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18.10.2023 14:10:30 236x read.
Identity and Mission...and community life (Prepared by Bro. Callistus)

Report Oasis; Monday,16 October, 2023.

Bro. Callistus Yengdem

We started the day with a beautiful morning prayer and reflection in the chapel led by our brother from Chile, Bro. Ge. In his introduction, he asked us to walk together with our founders with love. He added that we should celebrate and give thanks to God for the brothers who are attending this FIC spiritual journey, for our congregation, for our fellow brothers, associated members, collaborators, and so on. We should also thank God for our ministry to the poor, since there are so many poor people around the world. Thank God our Founder started this work through which we are expected to lay down our lives for those in need. Bro. Ge ended his reflection with a question "have you been able to lay down your life for your friends"?


In the first section of today, we dealt with the FIC identity according to our founders, and this was led by Bro. Johan Muijtiens. According to him identity is not the same as uniqueness. He said our congregation is not that unique since so many congregations were founded around the same time as FIC. He gave a us a brief history of our congregation in terms of its name, where it started and how it was registered in the Vatican year book.  

In 1839 the desire of Msgr. Rutten was to start a religious community of unmarried persons with the objective of explaining catechesis to the poor and other works of charity. Starting with this idea, Bro. Johan believes FIC is not a teaching congregation as such, but our real apostolate is “Christian education and formation of the youth”. Teaching, however,  becomes the tool to educate and form the youth, and to help them find meaning in life. Teaching should enable us to proclaim the gospel to the entire world through the youth. He hinted that the elements of our apostolic spirituality are to be found in Bro. Bernard’s Rule of Conduct for Superiors as well as the FIC Constitution especially “In the Spirit of our Founders” article 9, “Protecting their Heritage” article 10, and the Essential Reflection at the beginning of the document. 

Participants listened with keen attention since these ideas are clearly adding new insights into the understanding of our constitution. Up to date, it is still not easy for us Brothers FIC to say what exactly our Charism is. This presentation comes as a deep insight to our life. For many years, many brothers have believed that FIC is a teaching congregation. This clarity comes as an added meaning to our Charism.     

The afternoon session was dedicated to Community Life, and was presented by one of the animators, Bro. Didas Toogumo. His input had the following outline: community Life, Religious community, Apostolate and community life and challenges of living community life. 

Religious community is a setting where Brothers of the same community live together, sharing their life and mission. He quoted Article 37 of our constitutions as containing some core values of our community life: Forming a community means to be near one another in joy and in sorrow; to be willing to understand one another; to appreciate, encourage and inspire one another etc. He cited some practical examples to illustrate appropriate and inappropriate behaviours in community. 

In explaining apostolate and community life, Bro. Didas said living in community is intended for mission, and every brother is sent to a particular community to be engaged in a specific apostolate. It however takes a lot of maturity and discipline to maintain the sense of community in an active religious community like that of FIC. He again cited articles 32 and 33 of our constitution to indicate the relationship between community life and apostolate. Art 32 states in part:  ...... this is a bond that unites us and strengthens our community. Conversely, this community supports and inspires the individual brothers in their ministry........... Art 33 also states that our prayer life is marked by our apostolic motivation, and our apostolic motivation isenriched by our prayer........

In the end he highlighted some challenges of living community life such as the following: individualism, lack of communication, the use of modern technologies (social media), self-importance, lack of understanding of community life, focusing on personal interests and happiness alone, among others. As an answer to these challenges, religious brothers should develop the following: trust (for one another), openness, love , sensitivity, respect, concern for one another, sense of belongingness, etc.

Lastly, Bro. Didas read a letter he “received” from Bro. Bernardus our co-founder about our life to the hearing of all, and followed this up with two reflective questions: 

a) Did you and your community really care about the poor and marginalized?

b) Did you recognize the different forms of poverty in the environment where you live or work?


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