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15.10.2023 14:01:46 204x read.
OASIS
Pilgrimage to the brothers' final resting place in Anjoulaan, Maastricht. (By: Bro. Raphael B.)

Report OASIS 2023 Netherlands

Raphael Besigrinee

Today Friday, 13 October 2023, we brought the week-long pilgrimage activities to an end. The week, which began with a visit to the birthplace of our Founder, ended today in the brothers’ final resting place in Anjoulaan, Maastricht. Significantly, there is a sense of completion of our journey with our Founder, Msgr. Louis Rutten which began from his birthplace till his return to our maker.  

The day was cloudy and dull but that did not deter us from walking from “Onder de Bogen” the meeting centre to the Brothers’ cemetery at Anjoulaan. When we arrived we first paused for silence as if to allow our resting fellow brothers to welcome us to their community. Indeed, for many of us there was a deep sense of being welcomed to this silent community of brothers. How else can we communicate to them than through prayer? We started the prayer service led by Bro. Didas Toogumo. The first reading came from the book of Ecclesiasticus 3: For everything, there is a season, and indeed we became conscious that it was their time to be with God. 

The prayer service was carefully prepared to suit the purpose for which we went there, namely to reflect on and to pray for our departed fellow brothers. Thus, the readings were interspersed with deep moments of silence for individual prayers. After this spiritual encounter with our silent community members, we took time to walk around to ‘greet’ the silent brothers individually. To keep this unique encounter with our fellow brothers in our memories, we took group photos near our Founders’ tombs. After spending one-and-a-half hours in this silent community, we took leave of them to return to the meeting centre, with hearts full of gratitude for an encounter that would most probably not repeat itself for the rest of our lives.

During the first session of the afternoon moderated by Bro. Augustine, participants shared their feelings, touching moments and impressions on this unique encounter. Among others, the following were shared:

When we prayed for them (our departed brothers), I felt in touch with Brothers I met before;  I felt connected with the brothers though I never met them; The brothers were ordinary men who lived extra-ordinary lives; Their Lives are worth emulating; By praying for them, we are asking them to intercede for us to live worthy lives;  It is a reminder to contribute to the advancement of society. There is a great need to PRAY for our dead brothers; our prayers can make them saints. 

In the last session of the day, Bro. Augustine led an interesting discussion on the HERITAGE OF OUR FOUNDERS, one of the chief topics of the Oasis meeting. Participants were earlier given some information in a booklet to reflect on before asking for a plenary discussion on what we believe constitute the heritage of our Founders. As a prelude to this discussion, Bro. Augustine reminded participants that this heritage does not refer to physical or material possessions our founders bequeathed to the congregation. Rather it refers to their Spiritual heritage.   

Participants shared the centrality of the points listed in article 10 of our Constitution, Protecting their Heritage. Community life was seen as most fundamental to our life as Religious, and also more challenging than the others.  This is because it is in community we practice how to live the other values we inherited from our Founders. It is in community we practice “Brotherly Love” which is regarded as the queen of our congregation. Without community life, there is no religious life.  We are also told in the document “Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church” that “Religious Brothers find their natural habitat in this context of communion”, so if we abandon community for too long, we perish spiritually. The discussion leader added that the centre of the community life is the tabernacle (in the chapel). 

Not that the others are not of any value to religious life, No! The rest are in fact seen as embedded in community life. We should never undervalue the others. However, emphasis was given to what our Founder calls “spiritual and religious needs” of people, attention to the poor and needy and spreading of the good news through our schools.  

After the Eucharistic celebration, we had an interesting evening recreation. The brothers from Malawi entertained the group with their rich cultural heritage. They first gave us an indication of Malawi province and the nature of their apostolate. They ended by presenting each participant with a kind of polo shirt specially designed in Malawi.  








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