Proud to be a De La Mennais Brother

I am indeed proud to be a De La Mennais Brother and I want the whole world to know it :-)

I'm proud of what we stand for - helping young people to grow as individuals and in particular helping them to come to know and love Jesus Christ.
I'm proud of the individuals in our congregation and the marvellous work they do.
I'm proud of their dynamism, their dedication, their enthusiasm (even when they are no longer young), their warmth, their prayerfulness, their hopefulness....
I'm proud of our Brothers' communities and the fraternal atmosphere that reigns in them.
I'm proud, and I want our congregation to be able to carry on doing it's work which I feel in today's society is ever more relevant and necessary.

To give but one example... I know many Brothers who after having reached the end of their professional careers in France at the age of 60 decided to commit themselves to the missions and spend their "retirement" teaching in our missions in, for example, Haiti, Togo, Senegal... One good friend of mine (Frere Albert - see below photo) died of malaria in Haiti a year after going out there to work.

Fr. Albert, taken during one of 3 summer itinerant three 3-week cycling camps we did together in the 1990's with groups of about 25 French youngsters.

During the same camp (Fr. Albert 2nd from left. Far right = Frère Stéphane, another French Brother now in a mission of ours in Indonesia)

Frère Pierre, who was my Director of Scholasticate from 1991-3 and remains a close friend, is now in his mid 70s and has been in our African missions for the past 15 years. He is currently working in Senegal.

Fr. Pierre, taken during my sposnored cycle to Santiago De Compostella in 2006. I spent the night in one of our communities in Brittany where he happened to be convalescing after an operation before going back out to Senegal.

I owe a great deal to so many Brothers in our congregation, but none more so than Frère Henri (see below) who was my Assistant Novice master in 1990-1 in the south of France (near the Pyrénées). Not only is it thanks to him that I took up cycling as a sport and have also become keen on mountain hiking (the former in particular helping me to overcome long-standing knee and back problems), but it is also thanks to him that I now speak French fluently and was able to go back to France in 1995 to do 4 years of further study (Theology + Philosophy) in French. During my Noviciate (= first year of training) he spent a great deal of time helping me to learn French (he taught French + Latin in Breton secondary schools for many years) and in the years that followed would respond to my letters to him with copies of my original letters containing spelling and grammar corrections. We became very good friends and I have been fortunate to be allowed to go for week-long summer breaks in France cycling and/or hiking with Henri in the Pyrénées and elsewhere, helping me to keep up my French.

Henri during a hike last summer in the Pyrénées near where he now lives in one of our communities.

Bro. Francis was Head Teacher in our school here in Liverpool for 25 years (as well as having other headships and teaching job previously) before retiring 4 years ago and moving to our community in Southampton. Under his dynamic leadership St. Francis Xavier's College flourished. He steered the College through turbulent times in the 1980's in particular, and was never afraid to make bold, courageous decisions in the best of the College and it's pupils. He was also (and still is) a great support and friend to me in my life as a Brother. We have actually just come back from a week of meetings in France (a Provincial Council) for which we were both delegates (see end of this article).

Bro. Francis, Christmas '06.

Here are some more photos that show the joie de vivre that is typical of so many De La Mennais Brothers that I know.

And finally... if you click on the below photo (a shot of delegates during our Provincial Chapter this week) you will go to the website of our French Brothers and an article with photos about the recent Chapter meetings.

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