Edition 13: May 2004 Holy Spirit Province
 

Index to International Stories:

Christian Brothers and Edmund Rice Network urged to promote campaign for the Rights of the Child

Are you interested in joining an international community at Mt Sion, Ireland?

Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers – Joint Letter from Congregational Leaders

   

Christian Brothers and Edmund Rice Network urged to promote campaign for the Rights of the Child

Br Mark McDonnell of the Congregational Leadership Team in Rome has suggested that the Christian Brothers and members of the Edmund Rice Network take up the Pope's call to all of humanity to promote the Rights of the Child. Here is the full text of his letter…

Every year, Pope John Paul II proposes a theme for the prayerful consideration of the faithful during the Lenten season. This year, the Pope has chosen the theme encapsulated in the gospel text: "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me" (Matthew 18:5). By means of this text, the Pope wishes to focus the attention of all people of good will on the plight of children in our modern world. He goes on to say:

" … a word must be said about the selfishness of those who do not "receive" children. There are young people who have been profoundly hurt by the violence of adults: sexual abuse, forced prostitution, involvement in the sale and use of drugs; children forced to work or enlisted for combat; young children scarred forever by the break up of the family; little ones caught up in the obscene trafficking of organs and persons. What too of the tragedy of AIDS and its devastating consequences in Africa? It is said that millions of persons are now afflicted by this scourge, many of whom were infected from birth. Humanity cannot close its eyes in the face of so appalling a tragedy!

"What evil have these children done to merit such suffering? From a human standpoint it is not easy, indeed it may be impossible, to answer this disturbing question. Only faith can make us begin to understand so profound an abyss of suffering."

The Pope has not addressed his call on behalf of children and young people to any particular group with in the Church. His position is that such an appalling situation ought to be a concern for the whole of humanity. His words do contain a challenge, however, for those who have ears to ear to give serious concern to the plight of children and to do something about it; in other words, to champion the cause of Children's Rights as a matter of Christian duty and concern.

Why we Brothers should champion the rights of the Child.

Elsewhere on the Edmundclt.org site, there is an article arguing the need for the Congregation to have a corporate stance in relation to justice issues. In this article, some arguments are offered in support of making "the Rights of the Child" the core element of that corporate stance.

To champion the Rights of the Child in a world where there is so much abuse and exploitation of Children seems to be a profoundly Christian thing to do. The gospels repeatedly call on all Christians to be concerned above all for the weak and underprivileged. In today's world, it would be hard to find a more underprivileged group than the millions of destitute children who arrive on our planet crippled with a burden of misery that guarantees them a (short) life of deprivation and suffering. They receive this inheritance of destitution as a gratuitous gift from their forebears who see them as human capital to be exploited or human refuse to be disposed of. That these destitute children are unique manifestations of the face of God never registers on their human sensitivities of those who exploit them for reasons of power, greed or perversion.

Perhaps the most basic argument to be offered in support of the Congregation embracing the Rights of the Child as its corporate stance is the fact that this corporate stance is totally consistent with the charism of the congregation. If there was one thing more than another which moved Blessed Edmund to found our Congregation it was his love for children, particularly those children who were poor and deprived. To their welfare he devoted his whole apostolic effort, his paternal concern, his energy, his resources, his time. It was on their behalf that he gave of his all so that they might be liberated from the prison of destitution in which they found themselves through no fault of their own. It was the plight of the destitute poor children of Waterford that opened the heart of Edmund and allowed in the transforming power of the Spirit. What could be more in keeping with our founding charism for us Brothers than a willingness to open our hearts, like Edmund did, to Christ appealing to us in the misfortunes of young people and respond generously, creatively and vigorously as he did.
Indeed if we look in our Constitutions we will find ample support for such a stance. Here are some relevant quotations:

"As apostolic religious we are missioned by the Church for the evangelisation of youth, and especially for the education and care of the materially poor. This mission is expressed through a variety of ministries. In each ministry we respond creatively to emerging needs in a changing world." con 24

"In our mission of evangelisation we endeavour to proclaim gospel values, to affirm the dignity of all people and to work for justice and peace. We are called to witness by prophetic action to our option for the poor and the oppressed and to solidarity with them. This option is not an exclusive one; while some brothers are called to work directly with the poor, all of us are called to experience poverty ourselves and to work for the poor." con. 26

"As apostolic religious we are missioned by the Church for the evangelisation of youth, and especially for the education and care of the materially poor. This mission is expressed through a variety of ministries. In each ministry, we respond creatively to emerging needs in a changing world." con. 51

These extracts from our Constitutions speak for themselves. There is no need for elaboration. In their starkness, they speak more powerfully than if clouded in a fog of explanation.
There are many different levels at which to become involved in working for the Rights of Children . Here are just a few:

  • direct involvement in the work itself
  • proclaiming in the public arena the gross injustices done to children and exposing child injustice wherever it is to be found
  • lobbying at the political level of the change of laws and the recognition of rights
  • awareness raising through education programmes
  • collaborating with others in promoting the Rights of Children
  • being a support person for those more immediately involved through prayer, through solidarity and through the thousand and one practical ways in which a generous heart will find means of supporting a cause in which he believes passionately

By way of conclusion, it is worth repeating that the Congregation would be well served by identifying a corporate stance by means of which it could more effectively begin to harness its personnel and resources to promote the work of justice. For our Congregation, it would be difficult to find a more appropriate corporate stance than promoting the Rights of Children. What is called for now is a ground swell of support at local, region and province level to give concrete expression to this ideal for the Congregation.

Br Mark McDonnell
Rome

 

Are you interested in joining an international community at Mt Sion, Ireland? ...letter from Br Michael Godfrey

Dear Brothers,

MT SION, WATERFORD

I write to you in behalf of the Directors of a Company known as the Edmund Rice International Heritage Centres Limited.

   Background                        

One of the early decisions of the current CLT of the Christian Brothers was to take up the issue of the re-development of Mt Sion, Waterford as a joint enterprise with the Presentation Brothers. Accordingly a company was set up - Edmund Rice International Heritage Centres Limited. Seven Members of the Company were appointed [Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers] and then nine Directors [Christian Brothers, Presentation Brothers, lay men and women] have been appointed to move the development forward.

Declan Power [Christian Brother] has been appointed as the Project Manager with Walter Hurley [Presentation Brother] as his assistant. A Visioning Day, to which around forty people were invited, was held at Waterford and from that a Vision Statement for Mt Sion was developed. At a later date another visioning day was held, this time in an attempt to integrate the four recognised heritage centres - Callan, Cork, North Richmond St and Waterford. Currently the Directors are preparing an Architect's Brief and we expect to follow that in the near future with the appointment of an Architect as well as a Project Designer. The initial task of the Architect will be to develop a Master Plan and the Project Designer will be responsible for the setting up of the heritage area.

   Vision                        

The Vision of the Directors for Mt Sion is as follows:

Our vision is that the sacred space of Mount Sion will incarnate in a way relevant to today's world, the enduring values of the gospel and of the Edmund Rice tradition.

Our vision is that Mount Sion will be a place relevant to the lives and search of people today, particularly the young and in a special way those who are poor and marginalized.

Our vision is the radical transformation of Mount Sion.

On this holy ground we hope to have:

  • an international community which gathers around the Eucharist and the Word of God, fosters hospitality and promotes a spirituality of faith doing justice. This community will attempt to model emerging forms of religious life and a new expression of Brotherhood and Sisterhood for the third millennium.
  • a centre which provides a place of welcome and promotes a spirituality appropriate to the needs of searching young people today. We will welcome people of diverse faiths and of no faith. ? a centre which provides a place of welcome and a range of educational/social services for young people and others who experience poverty and marginalisation.
  • a vibrant heritage centre which tells the Edmund Rice Story and the story of the Brothers today in a way that challenges people to engage with the mission of Edmund Rice in our contemporary world.
  • a place of pilgrimage and prayer that continues to be relevant and meaningful to the people of Waterford, and is enriched by its multi-cultural character and global outlook.
  • a centre promoting peace, reconciliation and justice.

There are two issues which we, as Directors, wish to publicise to the Christian Brothers' and Presentation Brothers' Congregations as well as to the Edmund Rice Network and Presentation Family worldwide.

   Community                        

It is envisaged that an International community will be established on site in order to make the vision a reality. One of the first steps in the development of the Master Plan will be to make provision for a community to live on the second floor of the main building. The Directors believe that a vibrant community infused with the charism of Edmund Rice and capable of taking good initiatives on site is of the essence for the development of the Centre. The community initially will be small in number e.g. four people, and we are open to the community being comprised of Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers from various parts of the Congregations as well as members of the Edmund Rice Network. A commitment of a few years will be sought from incoming community members eg three years. In time we see the possibilities of others joining the community for limited periods eg three months to six months.

The international community will need to be comprised of people who are energetic and creative, capable of forming a lively community and of contributing to the operation of the Centre. There will be obvious needs in the areas of management, hospitality, running in-service educational programs, retreats, liturgies, personal development programs, programs of outreach to the marginalised, tour conducting, etc. We will be encouraging the Centre's use by other groups for courses and in services, as much of the property will be suitable for this type of activity. The Centre is not solely focussed on the Heritage Centre but that feature of the site will contribute to the attraction and atmosphere of the place.

Given progress on the initial steps, we expect to be ready to commence the new community during 2005. Any Brothers or members of the Edmund Rice Network or Presentation Family who are interested in the possibility of joining the community are asked to make contact with the relevant Province/Region Leader, who in turn is asked to contact either the Chairperson of Directors [Michael Godfrey] or one of the Deputy Chairpersons [John Burke, cfc, Martin Kenneally fpm]. We would like to have initial responses by May 15th, which will enable us to give further consideration to the formation of this community at our meeting on May 26th.
Where feasible, we will be asking Provinces/Regions to provide financial support, according to the norms of the Province, for any Brother who takes up a position in the community.

   Funding                        

From previous appeals and the generous support of some Provinces, a fund has already been established which in effect holds about Euro one million. Given building prices in Ireland, this amount will be useful but by no means will it enable substantial redevelopment to take place. The Directors have set up a Fund Raising committee, chaired by Michael Reynolds of Dublin to seek sources of funding and to make approaches to groups and individuals. Given prior demands on funding for African formation and the Bicentennial Fund, the CLT of the Christian Brothers is not disposed to asking Provinces to provide funding for the development. Nevertheless if any Province did wish to support the project which will extend over a few years, then any contribution would be most welcome in enabling the project to become a reality.

At the same time the Fund Raising Committee will be asking Provinces/Regions to investigate the possibilities of seeking funding from schools or individuals or groups of supporters. We do intend to publish a brochure outlining the development and seeking support for the various phases of the development. In time the Fund Raising Committee will make direct approaches to Provinces and Regions to seek your support and guidance in trying to ensure that the vision for Mt Sion becomes a reality.

   Making the vision a reality                        

Many Brothers and members of the Edmund Rice Network and Presentation Family are strongly attracted to Mt Sion as a meaningful place and a spiritual home. More and more people are finding in the spirituality of Edmund Rice the inspiration to live the Gospel values of justice and liberation in a practical way. The energy which is behind the development of Mt Sion flows from a strong belief that the person and spirit of Edmund Rice is very relevant for our times and that the story and spirit needs to be retained and promoted.The Directors of the project welcome your support for the steps which are being taken.

With best wishes,
Yours in Blessed Edmund,

Michael Godfrey
Chair of Directors

February 24, 2004

 

Letter from Congregational Leaders

Further progress on co-operation between
Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers

Dear Brothers,

We write to greet you for the Feast of Blessed Edmund Rice, and to give you the most recent information on the proposed Association of the Congregations of Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers.

In September 2003, we sent you a booklet that provided you with information on our collaboration along with some questions to be discussed by you, and a suggested prayer service. We are grateful to all who entered the process of reflection and discussion. Our Congregation Leadership Teams have processed the feed-back we received from you. Br Dominic Sassi and Br Martin Kenneally, who maintain links between our two Teams, have met and discussed the responses. Our Brothers – Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers – are profoundly aware that Edmund’s founding charism is what gives direction to our lives.

Vatican Council 2 called on all Religious to return to spirit and aims of their Founders.
As we engage in this process, we experience God’s Spirit drawing us into a fraternity that is unique to us. Our most recent Congregation/General Chapters have affirmed what is happening. Now, we look to the future and consider what our Brothers will share in the coming years.

Our Congregation Leadership Teams have been meeting annually. Following our meeting in Rome, in April 2003, we stated ‘we propose to form an association between our two Congregations.’ This in effect means that we wish to formalize what is already happening. We are satisfied that the proposal to formalize some form of Association meets with your approval.

The Association will provide a structure to promote and facilitate even deeper collaboration into the future. As we have already stated, we will attend two Inter-Congregational events later in the year: The ‘Brothers for a New Millennium’ Conference in Wa, Ghana in August 2004 and our Congregation Leadership Teams meeting in Cork, Ireland in October 2004. We will ritualize our Association in Ghana and in Ireland. Brothers in other parts of the world are encouraged to meet for a similar celebration.

We invite all the Brothers who can be present to join us for these ceremonies

(a) On Saturday, August 21st 2004 at 10 a.m. in FIC Brothers’ Conference Centre, Wa, Ghana
(b) On Saturday 9th October at 11 a.m. in the Chapel in Callan, Ireland.

We will invite some of our lay colleagues to join us for these most significant moments in our lives.

The life of Blessed Edmund Rice continues to inspire many people to follow his example of love and service. We are privileged to have so many people in our network who are living Edmund’s vision in a variety of ways. May we who live the vowed life in community and through our shared fellowship set an example for them.

We wish you a happy feast-day,

Philip Pinto

Andrew Hickey

Congregation Leader

Congregation Leader

 

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