From January 16th to 20th the RELEM Conference of Visitors took place in Borg-El-Arab which is located about 45 kilometers from the city of Alexandria, Egypt. Br Fadi and District of Proche Orient hosted the conference and all the logistical details were superbly coordinated by the Director of the impressive St Marc’s College in Alexandria, Mr Waguih Hanna, who accompanied the Visitors throughout the Conference.
As many of you will know, the St Marc’s College is located in the centre of Alexandria but the College also has a beautiful Conference/Retreat Centre outside the city, at Borg-El-Arab, and it was there that the Conference took place. The hospitality and the welcome was exquisite and this, along with the tranquility of the centre, created an ideal environment for the Brother Visitors of RELEM to reflect on significant issues affecting the Region and the Institute.
The Conference opened with a video message from Brother Superior General, Robert Schieler, in which he highlighted a number of important issues that the Region of RELEM, like the rest of the Institute, is currently facing. These included the continuity of the Lasallian mission into the future, with appropriate formation programmes for our Lay colleagues to ensure effective leadership of that mission, the development of effective vocation promotion programmes, the care and support of our older Brothers, and the protection of the patrimony of the Institute to support the mission. These issues were taken up during different sessions of the Conference along with some specific issues raised by the Visitors themselves. These included a reflection on community animation, the use of the Internet in community, and a pastoral approach to abuse.
One of the key decisions taken by the Visitors was to approve the procedures for the first RELEM MEL Assembly scheduled for October 2018 with the nomination of District participants to be finalized by the end of May 2017.
As is customary during these meetings, the Visitors took advantage of their visit to experience something of the local Lasallian reality. In this case it took the form of a visit to the College of St Marc in Alexandria where the Visitors had the opportunity to see some of the many varied opportunities offered to the students in the magnificent facilities of the College.
Additionally, on the final evening of the Conference, the Visitors had the opportunity to meet with the MEL Council of the Sector of Egypt and discuss the scope of the Lasallian mission throughout the District. The Visitors were also able to see something of the religious treasures of Egypt with a visit to the impressive Coptic monastery of St Pishoy which dates back to the 4th century.