SESSION ON INTERNATIONALITY IN AIX
Between late January and early April, 2008, thirteen Oblates gathered to experience and reflect on internationality for ten weeks at the Centre International de Mazenod in Aix-en-Provence. These Oblates came from the United States, Haiti, Uruguay, Zambia, Lesotho, Cameroon, France, Namibia and Sri Lanka. The session was animated by Dominique Dessolin (France), Frank Santucci (South Africa) and Noel Garcia (Philippines).
The session started with a liturgy during which each member planted a different variety and species of plant. This would serve as a symbol of the group for the following ten weeks. During the first and second weeks, they shared about themselves as persons, believers and Oblates. It served to build trust and confidence among the members. The group worked together for the liturgy, preparing meals, washing and cleaning the dining hall and recreating together by watching television, or a dvd or playing “Uno”. During the following two weeks, there were workshops on “experiencing internationality”. The group was guided by Sr. Marlene Huxley, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary from Australia. Each Oblate shared something about the history and culture, values, and beliefs of his place of origin. Insights and knowledge were gained from each others’ sharing; the participants became more aware of the “other” and the dynamics working within and outside relationships. Issues pertaining to living internationality also surfaced.
During the fifth week, Frank Santucci spoke about how Eugene crossed borders during his time; Wojciech Kluj (Poland) spoke about the history of the Oblates’ crossing borders as they expanded as a congregation. This was followed by five days of living together in houses at Taizé. The group joined the Taizé community and visitors from different parts of the world in prayer and liturgy. They had the chance to dialogue with a Brother in the community and ask about life in an international community. After the stay in Taizé, the group went on a ten day retreat at the Abbey of Citeaux. Frank guided the group as they deepened and reflected on their experience for the past weeks of talks, workshops and living together as a community. The Abbot of Citeaux gave a talk to the group on internationality as experienced by the Cistercian Order and on the theological aspects of internationality.
The eighth week was Mazenodian Holy Week during which the group visited the places of the first missions in Grans, Barjols and Marseille. The group also visited St. Laurent du Verdon where the founder wrote the Constitutions and Rules. On Holy Thursday, the talk was on the “Eucharist: Presence and Service” by Benoit Dosquet. As part of the Good Friday meditation, Dominique Dessolin spoke of Eugene’s sufferings and his Good Friday experience. The participants joined the local Oblate community for the Easter celebration.
During the ninth week, the group listened to and dialogued with Oswald Firth (General Administration) and Francis Nallapan (India). They spoke about the missionary challenges of today’s world and they shared about the mission context in Asia.
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