Long live the Brothers of the CM

On January 21, 2020, the Brothers of the Congregation of the Mission and other interested confreres met in a webinar in two sessions. The first session was aimed at missionaries from COVIAM, CEVIM and APVC. It started at 9:00 am, time in Rome, and was attended by 45 confreres. The second session started at 5:00 pm, time in Rome, was  reserved for CLAPVI and NCV missionaries, 44 confreres attended. The activities were coordinated by Fr. Hugo Vera, responsible for the Office of Communication of the CM.

Both sessions mentioned above included the initial speech of our Superior General, Father Tomaz Mavric, who stressed the importance of the Brothers’ vocation within the Congregation of the Mission, characterizing the ‘double character’ of the same, clerical and lay. Father Tomaz expressed concern about the decrease in the number of Brothers, since the 1960s / 70s, when the congregation had more than 500 brothers, while today there are only 123. In this conext, an international commission was brought together to design a Plan for the Promotion of the Brother’s vocation in the CM. The analysis of the Plan was the main subject addressed in the online meetings

After the Superior General’s speech, according to the coordinator’s guidance, those present were divided into virtual rooms by languages. In these ‘chat rooms’ the confreres addressed three questions that helped them to reflect on the Plan for the Promotion of the Brother’s vocation and to reflect on how each one of us, as Lazarist Brothers, has lived his own vocation in the context of his province of origin. In the Groups many relevant points were addressed, of which I highlight five main points:

1- It is important to recover the relevance of the Brother’s vocation within the Congregation of the Mission, not as a second-class missionary, but as a member with full duties and rights. We have the same vows, which gives us a common vocation.

2- The figure of the Brother has disappeared in several provinces. We must do intense work to re-establish that a Vincentian missionary can also be a consecrated lay person. In this way the vocations of Brothers will arise where today they are scarce. Nobody loves what they do not know, if the possibility of lay consecration in the CM is not presented in a clear and modern way, that is, without the stigmas of the past, the Brother’s vocation will contintue to disappear.

3- Offer the Brothers a formation similar to that of priests, giving priority to their character as a Vincentian missionary, before offering him technical training. Equating the formation of priests and brothers is the first step in reducing the historical differences that have negatively marked the Brother’s vocation in the CM.

4- Work in the Provincial and Domestic Assemblies on the idea that the Brother’s vocation is a theologically complete vocation in itself. The Brother is not one who has failed to be a priest, but he is a missionary who has been called by God to follow Christ the Evangelizer of the Poor, as a consecrated layperson in the CM.

5- At the General Assembly, there will be a profound reflection on the clerical identity of the Congregation. Wouldn’t it be time to change that identity?

After the sharing of the groups there were some announcements. Father Andrés Motto confirmed that in October, the CIF Session for the Brothers will take place (which was scheduled for last year and was postponed due to the pandemic).

In general, the sessions developed in a very harmonious and organized way. It was good to see that we Brothers, despite being few, remain alive and active in the CM. There are young faces, new brothers who want to change the negative stigma that has accompanied us in the past centuries. We hope we can. Long prosperous life to the Brothers of the Mission Congregation.

Hno. Adriano Ferreira, CM