Our Way Into The Future
Since Vatican II, the Congregation of Christian Brothers has been undergoing a continual process of renewal. Successive Chapters, after the first Spirituality Conference in 1982, recognised that the Spirit has been summoning us to march to a new rhythm, and called us forward with a series of inspirational vision statements in the form of Constitutions and Chapter documents. This renewal process, of its nature, will always be ongoing because it involves conversion of heart.
After 2002 our Congregation was significantly restructured. The stated aims at that time included “to transform minds and hearts”, “to facilitate new life in mission and ministry” and “to promote prophetic religious living”.
In 2008, the document that came out of the Congregation Chapter in India asked:
"The Congregation journey was given a new direction with the re-writing of our Constitutions in 1984, the articulation of the Four Directions in 1996 and with the emergence of the Seven Insights in 2002. And yet here in Munnar we felt that the Spirit was asking something new of us. What was this new thing?"
The document went on to suggest that the answer might be found as we deepen five dimensions of our lives as Brothers:
- To be ever open to exploring the Mystery of God in all of Creation
- To reflect on the Jesus Story in the light of our evolving understandings of the Cosmos
- To build healthy, compassionate communities living a heart-centred spirituality and supporting one another in mission
- To open our hearts to the cry of the poor and the earth and to be moved to prophetic action through advocacy and works for justice
- To allow the charism of Edmund to ‘fly free’ with freshness into finding new expressions
In 2013, having visited groups of Brothers around the world, the Congregation Leadership Team issued The Proposition. It forms the basis of the renewal process that we now call Our Way into the Future. It was embraced by the Congregation Chapter of 2014 as the pathway of renewal for each one of us and for the whole Congregation. It has three central pillars:
A new way of Engaging with Mystery
Our Way into the Future is first and foremost a way of living. It is a new consciousness that is changing radically our experience of being alive and the way we live and work. The Nairobi Document speaks of growing in “awareness of the presence of God in our midst”. This is the search for meaning and it is God’s searching for us, “drawing us to choose life”. More and more people are experiencing the world in a new way and out of this new consciousness we are engaging as co-creators within a living process. We are increasingly aware of the need for a life-long commitment to personal growth.
A new way of being Brother in Community
As Brothers, we are attempting to grow in authentic community living beyond superficiality, growing in “a love that struggles to cast out fear” (Con. #31). We remember that Pentecost happened in a community struggling with uncertainty. As we name our difficulties and struggles, we experience a deeper level of connection, we grow in a sense of relatedness with each other and with all of life, and we have a better sense of what it means to call ourselves “brother”.
A new way of being Brother with people in poverty
The Charism Statement of 1982 reminded us that “Edmund Rice was moved by the Holy Spirit to open his whole heart to Christ present and appealing to him in poor people.” As we reflect on Blessed Edmund’s charism, there grows within us a desire to be with those at the margins of society and to share in the pain of the world. This desire comes also from an ancient wisdom that tells us it is here we will find our wholeness.
Our Way into the Future is our response to the cry of our times to become a vibrant example of religious life that is responding to the urgent needs of our world. The Nairobi Chapter declared that “it is the agenda of the world that sets our mission direction. It is in deep listening to the groaning earth and her suffering people that the Church and Congregation experience God calling them to be agents of change, hope and transformation”.
The illustrative motif for the 2014 Congregation Chapter was the image of Moses and the Burning Bush along with the byline: Drawn by Mystery, Destined for Life. Like Moses, the delegates to the Chapter recognised that indeed we were standing on holy ground, that we had always been standing on holy ground, and in the midst of the rubble around us, “our house turned to ashes”, we knew we were being summoned anew by God to have our lives changed, just as everything in Moses’ life changed as a result of his encounter with this Mystery.
The Chapter proclaimed that the charism of Blessed Edmund is at a crossroads and challenged us to “reclaim our founding charism”. We can allow the flame to flicker out through preserving the status quo, or we can choose to move in trust to the Spirit’s invitation.
2013 - The document which articulated the structure of the new communities is called "The Proposition". It describes how we can all grow in spirituality, community and ministry.
2015 - The CLT issued a document called "Responding to the Call" which describes how we can all grow in spirituality, community and ministry.
The Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America Province in response to the 2014 Congregation Chapter in Nairobi, Kenya and in concert with Our Way into the Future has responded with our Mission Frère Initiatives in Harlem, Haiti and Miami and focused on Young Adult Ministry and Advocacy.
Updates are constantly being posted on the Journeying Together website: