“Into the future with hope”
In the village where I come from, when a woman conceives, the whole village rejoices and start preparing for the new life. A new member of the community is about to be welcomed. When the child is born, a great celebration take place and all efforts are made to protect the new life in the community’s midst. The mother is given lessons on how to form the child into a responsible member of the community. As the child moves from one social group to the next, great care is shown to him or her. The child has various opportunities of learning from both adults and peers in the community at various stages, and also at different gatherings with the elders. The child gets to know about the past, the values of the community, what the community stands for, and how to survive into the unpredictable future with hope. This process of learning and being supported by the community continues for the rest of a person’s life with special occasions, like the celebration of a marriage, providing outstanding opportunities for growth in understanding and appreciation.
Recently in Zambia, we Christian Brothers of the Mater Dei District gathered in the capital city, Lusaka, for our annual assembly. This year our aim was to reflect on how to keep the charism of our founder Edmund Rice burning in our hearts. The gathering, facilitated by brother Mike Burke from our Southern African District, focused on the spirituality of Edmund Rice – what motivated and energised him to do the extraordinary things he did. Together we walked through the 250 years’ history of Edmund Rice and those who continued to carry his spirit of great service to the people of God. Our ten communities were challenged to reflect further on how deeply they are in touch with the local poor as Edmund was in his time and circumstances.
Like Jesus, Edmund was filled with compassion when he saw the overwhelming needs of the people in his city, Waterford, especially the neglected children. Compassion urged him to move into action. Similarly, it is compassion coming from the depth of our being that urges us to renew our positive response to the poor and needy in our time and circumstances.
This gathering gave rise to new expressions and energy. It was a gathering with a difference!
The Brothers were further encouraged and impelled to move into the future with hope by two important celebrations.
The first of these was the Golden Jubilees of Brothers Seamus O’Reilly and John McCourt, who were among those who pioneered Christian Brothers’ presence and ministry in Zambia. Their fifty years of self-giving offered a strong message to the youthful Zambian Brothers who have started out on their path of service. Hearing some of their story was testimony to their generosity and joyful attitude to being brother to others.
The second celebration was the permanent commitment of two of the younger Zambian Brothers – Clement Mbulo and Stephen Chewe – in the context of Eucharist on our final morning together. These two young men have been deeply involved in empowering and enriching the lives of many poor young people. Their life-long vows within the Congregation of Christian Brothers provided another concrete proof that a life of unreserved dedication to God through the service of people is possible.
Christian Brother Puriey Musunga
published May 2012
This website looks forward to sharing the story of the two Jubilarians and the two newly committed young Brothers in our PROFILES column.