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7 mai 2024 2 07 /05 /mai /2024 16:46


It is providence that guides the steps of those who put their trust in God. Providence is obviously not something magical in the sense that all life's events would fit together perfectly without a hitch, for those who seek to do God's will. Sure, failures and frustrations are part of life. And yet, believing in Providence means having a positive outlook on life and being full of hope for what lies ahead. In a world where people are easily tempted by pessimism and nostalgia for a lost world, thinking that God guides our steps is not only reassuring, it's also a way of mobilizing ourselves, of committing ourselves, of marveling at the unknown.

I will have spent 17 years in Asia, a third of my current life, a significant time. Previous generations of missionaries used to take lifelong commitment in the country where they were assigned. Time have changed, mobility is increasing, flexibility and the attraction of novelty are part of modern culture, and that is not negative as such. Still perseverance in commitment is essential and time is an ally for those who want to carry on solid project. My hasty and forced departure from Vietnam, although unfortunate, gave me opportunity to know the Philippines, a country I hardly knew since then, and I really enjoyed to stay in this wonderful country for 9 months. In the Philippines, I discovered a joyful people. Many people have a good level of English, that facilitates practical things and helps greatly to hold long conversations with the natives. Living in Tagaytay, at an altitude of 500 m, 70 km from Manila, the climate was much cooler than what I experienced in the previous years. Of course 9 months is a quite limited period of time (nothing compared to my experience in Vietnam), but what a privilege for a missionary to share once again the life of local people!

Leaving Asia after a nice transition of nine months in the Philippines
Leaving Asia after a nice transition of nine months in the Philippines

Like the Vietnamese, the Filipinos are sensitive people who favor relationships and solidarity over rational planning and personal interests (positive or not), in contrast to the Western society. They are less enterprising people than the Vietnamese people, though.  They regard life events with a high degree of acceptance, living the present moment, with a strong community belonging. “If we stick together, we always succeed...(well... most of the time!)”.

Living with the members of the Focolari, I discovered (or rather rediscovered) their generosity, their authenticity and their joyfulness. The Focolari center in Tagaytay (known as “Mariapolis”,that stands for “City of Mary”) welcomes thousands of people every year for a weekend, a week, a month, six months, a year or more. Their motto is: "Let our guests feel welcome". Welcoming means that the practical aspects are rigorously taken care of (room, food, green space...), but also that the activities they offer will please the participants. Basically, the Mariapolis is a place where people share their experiences to build a better world. More than ideas, they show how to put into practice the vision of a more fraternal world. This is done through small gestures on a daily life basis: cooking, listening to others, calling each other frequently to see how people are doing, working on relationships in general. They also carry on larger-scale projects: they have social centers, they organize national and international meetings with people from other religions, they offer scholarship for students in difficulty, etc...

Leaving Asia after a nice transition of nine months in the Philippines
Leaving Asia after a nice transition of nine months in the Philippines
Leaving Asia after a nice transition of nine months in the Philippines

Obviously, not everything is perfect in this 'small' world (a hundred people, still!). Many members are ageing and very few young people nowadays commit themselves to the consecrated life of the Focolari. As a consequence, as it is the case in many other institutions of the Church, some people find it hard to change their way of working. Others long for new people able to take on responsibilities and replace those who have been in Tagaytay for a long time, giving them the opportunity to take new commitments somewhere else, but this is not always possible. Some members may experience personal difficulties... In the midst of these ups and downs, the same question always comes up: do we let difficulties put us down, or do we see them as opportunities to love more? When the other person disappoints us, when the program doesn't meet our expectations, when the schedule of activities is unclear or suddenly changes, it becomes a call to forget our own interests, welcome the present moment with joyful acceptance and welcome the other person as they are, with generosity and sympathy.

Leaving Asia after a nice transition of nine months in the Philippines
Leaving Asia after a nice transition of nine months in the Philippines

The more I spent time in Tagaytay, the more I adopted this spirit of simplicity, flexibility and good humor. I was in no hurry to leave Tagaytay for good, but I knew that my presence here, far from my congregation (despite some visits to the Manila community), could only be temporary. Several options for my future were successively discussed with the superior of my congregation. At the age of 50, I was undecided about one fundamental issue: Was it good for me to remain in Asia and commit to a new mission in the Philippines that would have involved learning a new Asian language, bearing with tropical weather and adapting to a new local mentality, or was it better to return to Europe to rediscover my European roots and contribute to the evangelization of a largely secularized society? After several months of discernment and discussion, I was made an unexpected offer: to work in Rome on a new project for the congregation. I responded positively to the proposal, given that it corresponded to a real need in my congregation and that it would allow me to renew my ties with Europe while discovering a new country, Italy, still unknown to me. I have now started Italian language near Florence one month ago. With French, Portuguese, Spanish and Latin, I'm not starting from scratch - far from it!  Bye bye Asia, I miss you already !

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English - Français blog !!!

A blog written in Vietnamese? Not for now...Anyway, the articles published in this blog are usually in English and in French. Up to you to choose your language!

A quand un blog en Vietnamien?... Ce n'est pas pour demain, mais les articles publiés sur ce blog sont généralement et en Français et en Anglais... A vous de choisir...

La Providence passe par vous.

sm vn

La mission n'est possible que grâce à vous: soutien aux pauvres (1), y compris le parrainage scolaire, aux jeunes en formation (2), à la communauté (3), à la construction du séminaire à Manille (4), nous comptons sur votre aide! Une aide si modeste qu'elle soit, c'est important et encourageant !

- Pour nous aider de Belgique ou de l Etranger: Compte de Frédéric Rossignol chez BNP Paribas Fortis :
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