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10.08.2020 15:05:28 6733x read.
The Chilean Province (Taken from Orientatie Magazine, 2018).

The Chilean Province (Taken from Orientatie Magazine, 2018)

Bro. Diego Izquierdo Gallego

The FIC province of Chile was founded in 1953. The first brothers were invited by Msgr. Manuel Larraíno, then bishop of Talca. All in all there have been 75 brothers working in Chile over the years. Most of them were Dutch brothers who eventually returned to the Netherlands, but who spent a large part of their lives in this South American country.

Some of these brothers had leadership tasks, others quietly dedicated their time and care to the Chilean people, and they are remembered with warmth and sometimes with humour. All of them sowed the grain that brings new life.

The apostolate in Chile is aimed completely at relieving the spiritual and material poverty of the local population. An important way towards this is through the schools, although some of the brothers have worked on other projects, such as youth, addicts, sports for young people, wo- men’s place in society, and housing. We thank God for so much effort and love.

At this moment we are a multicultural community. The last Dutch brother in Chile, Gé van Vugt, is among us; we have five Chilean brothers: Luis Muñoz, Marcelo Sandoval, Javier Solís, Patricio Guentelican and Hector Rojas; two Indonesian brothers: Eko Ekowijayanto and Johanes Krismanto; and two Spanish brothers: Lucio Torres and Diego Izquierdo.

At this moment we are working on the apostolate the first brothers in Chile saw as the most important one. We have had to let go of some other tasks and concentrate on education: two technical schools, a primary school, a school for students with special requirements, and a centre for professional training for adults. That is in accordance with the basic apostolate of the FIC to give education to whoever needs it, and the formation of youth and migrants loo- king for a better life. The educational centres we manage are closely linked, so we can more easily follow new trends in society and the educational reforms of the government. Fortunately we have government subsidies and sponsoring from sympathetic foundations to support us.

Unfortunately we are only a few brothers for the five projects we manage and which supply more than two thousand persons with education and training. But that is the way it is, and we are very happy that we can cooperate well with lay peo- ple who feel connected to FIC and who give their lives meaning by educating people who have difficulties following the demands of society.

Brothers on our way

Our community grows in humanity as brothers are more aware of their own personal and communal reality. As our number decreases the community is the poorer for it, less rich in diversity, there is less leadership developing, and it weakens the community, that is all very true. But on the other hand we must not forget that the meaning of brotherhood, of religious life, a life dedicated to the big project of God, can transcend all weakness. Then we can be strong, creative, hopeful, and we can forget our insecurities and disappointments. We can rise above our personal and communal problems, because once we are aware of them we can limit them and find solutions to them.

Magic doesn’t exist. What we do have, and what helps us, is our association here in Chile with people who have bound themselves to the mission of FIC. Since a number of years we share our lives, especially in the education centres, with people who are not just very good at their jobs but who are very valuable in the humanitarian and spiritual fields. And in that fashion we can develop a brotherly and apostolic spirit which enables us to do our work in a different way and still follow the ideas of our Founders.

We have put a lot of effort into attempts to find new candidates for the FIC in Chile, and we keep trying. We will find more candidates if we look at today’s youth through the eyes of Jesus and develop an understanding for modern culture and for young people who feel called. The advisors and indeed the entire community are responsible for this task. We must keep on learning.

There was a time when we thought we would not be able to continue our mission here without brothers. But now there are lay people who have taken up our mission and who also have leader- ship qualities. We have also asked the international community to send us brothers and we were answered in plenitude. We are very happy with the brothers who have visited us and with those who will remain in Chile for a longer period to share our life and our mission. Their presence strengthens us and helps us to better understand the international nature of our congregation, with in the background always Constitutions 19: “A valuable tradition in the Congregation is the willingness to help build a more human world outside one’s own native country.”

New Leadership

Being a brother and taking responsibility for our mission means that we have to think carefully about the kind of leadership we need, now and in the future. It will be a kind of leadership completely adapted to the vulnerability of a small com- munity; on the one hand there must be ample freedom for the members, but on the other hand there must also be a joint sense of responsibility for each other both as persons and as a com- munity. The kind of leadership where you live together in service to the formation of others and if necessary for the reform of structures.

We will have to keep asking ourselves what is the meaning of our presence in Chile. We must have a clear vision of which people are vulnerable and need our attention in this country, where the face of poverty has changed and inequality is a lasting problem.

We want to live in such a way as to keep our community life strong and we develop even better brotherly and flexible relationships between the brothers, and where we grow together in a process that will make all of us better and happier people.

We pray that Jesus, God’s son among men, and Mary, loyal handmaiden of the Lord, accompany us on our path.

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