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CIL on Vocations week 4

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Brother Alvaro joined us for dinner after a long day session

Br. Arian from the Philippines facilitated and presented this week. He was amazing both in sharing the vocation efforts of our Brothers and Lasallians in the Philippines and in helping us highlight the efforts throughout the world. Cultures are so different, approaches vary, but in the end our joys, frustrations, challenges and blessings are very much the same.

Last week-end four of us, two from India, one from Australia and myself spent several hours walking at the Vatican, literally from bottom to top. I remember walking to the top of the dome 32 years ago. It is just as high now and, I must admit, it takes a little longer to get there. I also enjoyed a visit at North American College with the Seminarians from Dubuque and Fr. Dennis Quint, Pastor at Dyersville, IA. Alan and I have had few meetings both counting our blessings and praying for hope and courage.

Br. Jose Rubio (Chewy) from the generalate asked me to be on a panel with him next week to assist with his presentation. Perhaps Alan will write about that next week. Time is going fast. There are just seven more days, but whose counting?

-Br. Stephen Markham

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CIL on Vocations Week 3

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I never cease to be amazed at how one commitment leads to another and how the unexpected seems to become the norm. Here I am writing to you from the Eternal City, Rome, on what would have been the the 92nd anniversary of my mother’s birth, surrounded by my Brothers from all over the world.

There are 49 of us representing some 38 countries remaining for the last three weeks, as 17 partners and one Brother left last weekend. Monday – Friday each week is pretty well scheduled with talks and discussion, always navigating the three main languages of our Institute (Spanish, French and English).

Unfortunately, I missed the talks by Brothers Chuey Rubio, Joseph Felix and Alvaro, our Superior General. Alan tells me all three were very good. Fortunately, the chapter we had at Techny, which caused me to miss the talks, was also very good.

The highlight of the sessions so far for me has been those presented by Br. Sean Sammon, a Marist Brother from the United States. He spoke very practically about the identity of the Brother in the Church and Religious Life prior to and after Vatican II. He addressed Community noting that such requires a free commitment to live, work, pray, and relax with a specific group of people and is meant to help us carry out our primary mission which is to love God and make God known and loved. He concluded by distinguishing between Celibacy (being unmarried) and Celibate Chastity (a way of being a sexual/intimate person).

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Two and a half weeks remain so you will here from us again.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle. Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts. Forever.

Br. Stephen Markham

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CIL on Vocations Week 2

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Here we are at CIL in Week Two. In this international setting (Brothers and associates here from all over the world), we spend each day hearing lectures on topics related to  vocations and do some small group work.  We also pray and plan liturgies.  There is a time for fun such as our Halloween party and our trip to Assisi.  One of the highlights was the noon Angelus in the piazza at St. Peter’s on Sunday.  We had a good view of the Holy Father, and his message on Zaccheus was inspiring, though in Italian.
The Generalate community has been welcoming and gracious.  Tomorrow we celebrate the Spanish Martyrs with a special liturgy and dinner with the Generalate community.  They also hosted us last week with a very elegant meal.
My personal favorite thing to do is walk through the hall of the Superior Generals on my way to and from the CIL building.  It never fails to inspire awe as I realize that I am here so close to our heritage.  I was deeply moved seeing the written vows of the first twelve Brothers in the Archives.  I silently renewed my vows and thanked the Lord for my FSC vocation.
Lastly, I am praying for all of you.  The relic of the Founder is in the main chapel, and that is where I remember all in the District each day.
-Brother Alan Parham, FSC
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CIL on Vocations in Rome

Bro. Stephen with Bro. Victor Guttierez

Bro. Stephen with Bro. Victor Gutierrez

Sixty-seven Lasallians, 56 Brothers and 11 partners, are gathered in Rome at the Generalate for a two-week CIL session with the topic of Pastoral Ministry for Vocations.  Thirty- eight districts are represented. Most of the Brothers will remain for an additional three weeks to continue the discussions.

During the first week there have been two presenters, Sister Enrica Rosanna, FMA and Brother Robert. Sister set a context for the CIL sessions with lots of stories and examples all delivered in true Italian style. Br. Robert, in true French style, reviewed the stages of development in anyone’s journey and invited us to make application to the vocation journey of a young person.

As expected the best part of the program is the richness of the relationships with Lasallians from around the world. I note I am the oldest among the group and am amazed at the many young Brothers in several parts of the world. In just the few days we have been here, I have had conversation with Brothers from Egypt, India, Hongkong, Africa, Mexico, Spain, Australia, Italy, Philippines, Malta, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Japan, the Districts of Bogota and Colombo. The picture attached is one of Brother Victor Gutierrez, a Brother from Mexico who ministers in Japan. He is a former student of Br. James Roszak.

Br. Alan is having the time of his life. His ability to understand and speak Spanish and universal sense of humor serves him well.

We just returned from a full day at Assisi where I spent the entire day walking with two Brothers from India and one from Colombo.  So far, it is the highlight of the CIL experience for me.

-Bro. Stephen

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CIL Update

Dr. Roxane Eubank particpating in a CIL work group.

We are now into Week 2 of CIL.  Last week we spent a great deal of time getting to know each other as well as getting an overview of what we would be doing for the next two to four weeks.  This week we are getting into the “meat” of the matter.  On Monday, Brother Diego Munoz from Venezuela spoke on the topic of Association and Vows. He did a good job of giving a narrative of the historical perspective on association from the beginning of the Institute to where we are today.  It really was quite fascinating.  Given the reality of the Institute today, it is now time for Lasallians to express their own identity. 

What is it we want? The idea of association being invitational continues to surface.  On Tuesday, Brother Charlie Kitson from DENA spoke about Circular 461 Associated for the Lasallian Mission…..an act of HOPE. He spoke about how the Circular came about and what has been the initial reaction to it.  He emphasized that all Lasallians can find themselves in this Circular.  We need to read it, reflect upon it, and discuss it with other Lasallians.  The future of the Lasallian mission is in our hands!  It is a future filled with HOPE.

On Tuesday afternoon the delegates from the Midwest District had an opportunity to meet with Brother Leonardo Teijio, Procurator General for the Institute.  He was able to clarify for us what can and cannot be done according to Canon Law.  We now have some direction in which to move.  A great deal of work lies ahead.  There is much to be shaped and formed.  It is an exciting time!

Bro. Dave Poos, FSC

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First Week at CIL on Lasallian Association

On Saturday, we went to Saint Peter’s Plaza and Basilica.  My first reactions was that is looked bigger on TV and it did largely because there were no points of reference for comparison at the time.  There were few people or other things to give a sense of the scale of the place.  We went into the Basilica and the experience was much the same.

Little by little though, I began to understand the immensity of the plaza and the Basilica.  I looked across the plaza and saw the tiny human figures lined up to go into the Basilica.  When inside the Basilica, someone was talking about the structure built over the altar and pointing out that it was eight stories high.  I saw some people looking like tiny dots way up in the copula.  Finally upon returning to the Generalate, I saw some photos of the workers who brought the statue of Saint La Salle into the Basilica and hoisted it up to its present position looking down on Saint Ignatius of Loyola.  Just the base of the statue was as tall as the person standing next to it in the photo and yet it looked rather small as we looked up at it from the ground level.

That has been my experience at CIL during this first week.  When we look at a map of the Lasallian world, we only get an inkling of its immensity.  We can find the countries and look at the city names, but it is hard to get any real sense of it until we have an opportunity to get a sense of scale by interacting with other Lasallians from around the world.

Three languages are used for presentations at CIL:  French, English, and Spanish.  Participants are divided into language groups for small group discussion.  My English speaking group has one from Memphis, New York, Philadelphia, and Moraga, CA.  We also have one from Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Rome.  Each has a different geography, history, and governmental structure.  Some are primarily in schools while others are forbidden by law from teaching in schools.

We share some things in common, but it is clear that there are profound differences.  One size will not fit all.  When we speak about Lasallian Association, it is difficult to imagine one approach working in every place.  Our cultures and histories are so very different.

This week we began to get to know one another.  We found things we had in common.  We welcomed and listened to one another.  We shared our experiences of Lasallian Association in our corners of the world.  We listened to presentations that showed us great challenges and great possibilities.  We began to work on our CIL projects.

For me it is clear that there are lots of possible approaches to Lasallian Association, but I wonder what can actually be sustained beyond the particular personal commitments of individuals?  What can be institutionalized?

Can we rely on sheer numbers to sustain Lasallian communities, i.e., lots of new people coming as others leave?

Do we need some system of long term commitment?  Do we need older experienced Lasallians to sustain younger and inexperienced?  How can we ensure that in the future?

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CIL Session Begins in Rome

Midwest District CIL Participants: Bro. Mark Snodgrass, Tina Bonacci, Roxanne Eubank, Bro. David Poos

The Midwest District’s CIL participants join a group of 78 brothers and partners from around the Institute to focus on Circular 461– “Associated for the Lasallian Mission …an act of HOPE.”  Participant Dr. Roxanne Eubank shares this about her experience so far: “Today (day two, Tuesday, November 9, 2010)– we started to really delve into the document and had a wonderful morning filled with thoughtful presentations and an afternoon filled with enlightening discussions.  We are looking forward to continuing the discussions and to reflecting on all we learn in light of our own Midwest realities.”

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