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19 January

Saint Kanute, martyr
1959, First Marist Brothers foundation opened in New Guinea

Marist Calendar - January

Ecuador 2008


Meeting of combined formation for Brothers and Lay people

Hispanic-Portuguese area. Quito, July 2008

InternationalPhotos 1 | Photos 2

Contributions from the international experience of combined formation. 

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We give thanks to God for calling us to "opt for life" (Deut 30, 19) and to "put out into deep water" (Lk 5, 4). 

The 20th General Chapter says: We are convinced that the life-giving Spirit is leading us along a common path. We commit ourselves to work and spend time together, to reflect on what constitutes our Marist identity, and to clarify the different forms of belonging to the Institute. This will require programmes of common formation for Brothers and Lay people. (29). 
The international Meeting of Brothers and Lay people in Les Avellanes, in May 2007, echoed the commitment of the Chapter and sought to characterise the fundamental elements of the Processes of combined formation. 
The international Assembly of Marist Mission, in Mendes, September 2007, ratified the road travelled in this respect with these statements: We feel called to promote a combined formation to deepen our common vocation and our specific vocations, be it at provincial, regional or international level".  (Mendes 1.1; 2.1) 
Our Meeting in Quito, with 21 Marists, eleven lay men and women and ten Brothers from 14 Administrative Units, is part of this same itinerary which begins with the General Chapter, where we are aware that starting from processes of combined formation we can enrich our specific vocations and our common vocation, and in this way recreate the Marist charism for our time.  
This perception was confirmed in the Letter we received from Brother Seán: Do not fear to dream these days, to be questioned, to push your imagination. Use your experience… to help us to deepen in the appreciation of our respective vocations and to live them in a fuller way. The charism is in all us… for that reason we make the effort of visualizing the Marist life and mission for the future, and we offer our energy to make that vision a reality." 
The road travelled during this month, has made us live the experience of the disciples of Emmaus: walking together, sharing life, feeling our heart on fire and being bread for others. This intensely human experience of community and of God brings us to express these convictions:  

The Marist vocation is a gift of God offered to people who are committed to different forms of life and who want to live the Gospel according to the Marist charism. The Marist vocation is shared by the Brothers. and the lay people who have a vocation

  • The community dimension of our vocation is translated into the shared search for a new significance of the Marist charism for the current world, sensing new roads of vitality and renewal. 
  • Combined formation wants to express that we lay people and Brothers feel reciprocally the need to develop our common Marist identity and our specific identities. Complementarity enriches this gift of God to the Church and it is a sign of communion. Together we should discern the implications of this new road. 
  • The formation presupposes processes, where we highlight the idea of itinerary, road, term, stages, systematizing… rather than detailed actions or programmes that lack vision. 
  • The formation to which we refer is mainly life experience; therefore we should prepare to share life, faith, mission, charism, community experiences, reflection… We believe in experience as the way towards growth; experience which is read, interpreted and shared.  
  • The processes that we envisage are community processes, since the Marist identity which we want to recreate is to be lived in community.  At the same time, we understand that these processes should be designed for lay people and Brothers, through an experiential and community journey.  
  • We feel that to revive the flame of the Marist charism in the Administrative Units through the processes of combined formation demands a global commitment to renewal both of the Brothers and the lay people. The transformation refers to new dreams about Marist life and mission for the future, and it involves people and structures.  
  • The mission of establishing the Kingdom of God is the great goal of our formative processes. The mission is what gathers us together in a common vocation. Within it we look at the children and young people especially in social commitment for the transformation of our world. 
  • Pedagogically we refer to a journey that starts with the person (personal processes) and is supplemented in the community (community processes), in the dimensions of faith, vocation, relationship with others and mission. It is difficult for us to understand, from what we have experienced this month, that true community processes can be lived if they do not spring from personal processes. 
  • We feel that the proposal of combined formation should be sustained in the provincial Project, which presupposes the preparation of formators’ teams, to design and follow up strategies and accompaniment of the processes, to revise the current formation structures so that they can integrate Brothers and lay people, to encourage local processes, to introduce appropriate methodologies…  

On finishing our Meeting of Combined Formation in Quito we identify with the gesture of Champagnat raising the boy on his shoulders. The statue of Marcellin in the Vatican seems to humanize the divine. The hand of Marcellin caresses, it is a sacrament of meeting. In the child can be seen the God of life who brings us happiness, creativity and utopia. Our experience of this month wants to honour life, as does Champagnat with the boy. To raise up what is born, to promote the capacity to dream, like the boy. 
From the journey that we have made in these weeks overflows a hope that advances the future of God, it stimulates us in the face of resignation and pessimism, it helps us to deal with the same topics and the same roads, it offers us alternatives, it opens us to the newness of God.  
Contemplating the statue of Champagnat invites us to creativity and dynamism, to "go beyond our possibilities". Before the challenges that the current world offers to the Marist charism, contemplating the expression of Marcellin encourages us to not give up risk, but to promote this way to combined formation, and to fill our life with hope.  
Starting from this experience and the convictions that we have shown, we prioritize these formative elements to be promoted in the Administrative Units from the Processes of combined formation: 


1.1 features of the Marist charism: family spirit, pedagogy of presence, children and young people as sacraments of God, Mary’s style, spirituality of simplicity, exercise of the presence of God… determine our way of following Jesus

  • Transmit these Marist features of our following of Jesus to all our groups, through our witness and in our projects.  
  • Make our works places of announcement and denunciation, within the prophetic spirit that Jesus' Gospel requests of us. 
  • Encourage meetings of combined reflection on the present and future of Marist life: vocational identity, mission, spirituality… 

1.2 Our faith accepts and welcomes the God of life, the God who is embodied and present in everything and in everyone, and whom we discover when we turn our face to his Love. 

  • Ensure keys for the interpretation of life and encourage attentive and prayerful dialogue with reality. 
  • Value human experience as a deepening element in faith. 
  • Promote discernment in the cultivation of personal conscience, transparency and openness with oneself and with God.  

1.3 Initiation and accompaniment on the spiritual road that Marcellin left us needs lay formators and Brothers, qualified for such a mission. 

  • To create processes and itineraries of faith (centrality of Jesus Christ, presence of Church, itinerary of Mary…), developed jointly. Such processes are attentive to the initiation levels, deepening and commitment or adhesion.   

1.4 Marist spirituality is community spirituality that makes us travelling companions in our approach to God-love and helps us to promote Church-communion. The religious community, the Church, the family… are environments for the growth of faith. 

  • Create significant communities: simple, open, sensitive, where the experience of God can reach its fullness, sharing life, mission and formation, with lay people and Brothers.  
  • Favour and encourage spaces (meetings, retreats, mission…) and a structure that allows for the sharing of life (open communities, mixed communities, common spaces to share in groups, Champagnat Movement …).  
  • Deepen the spirituality of communion as prophecy for our world. 

2.1 Promote a model of vocational pastoral for the development of shared Marist vocation and specific vocations (lay life, religious life, priestly life…). Such a pattern should be based especially on a consistent theology based on the diverse Marist vocational identities, the “lay Marist vocation". 
Some approaches: a model that is open, flexible, ecclesiastic…; focused more on the person than on institutional needs; progressive; that respects the cultures and the local processes already initiated;  that is present in all the Marist pastoral processes and linked with the diverse environments where vocation is encouraged such as the family, schools, communities, fraternities...  
2.2 Develop formative itineraries together, with the creation of teams of Brothers and lay people to accompany the processes of growth and of renewal around the Marist charism.  

  • Formation for accompaniment, in order to help personal growth (vocational response) and community growth. 
  • Renew the processes of the Brother's specific formation, as much in initial formation as in ongoing, so that they include elements of combined formation (Church-communion, lay Marist vocation, complementarity…).

2.3 Create or enable communities, fraternities and Marist works (made up of Brothers, lay people or both) that foment a coherent life within the received vocation and a strong community experience, missionary, ecclesiastic and social embodied in the reality. 

  • Strengthen the Brothers’ communities so that they are vocational spaces and life-giving for themselves and others. 
  • Promote community experiences for lay people that allow them to experience the Marist vocation. 

2.4 From our shared vocation we are called to live Jesus' centrality in the daily things, feeling ourselves to be men and women of God and offering audacious answers to our personal, community and social reality.  
2.5 To advance in reflection concerning the forms and structures of commitment, adhesion and/or ownership of the Marist charism (types, impermanence, rights and obligations, ecclesiastic recognition…). 

3.1 Cultivate relationships inspired by Jesus and Mary and driven by the dream of Champagnat that allow us to build the Kingdom from our fraternity.  
3.2 Encourage a greater presence of Brothers and lay people with vocations in significant activities of the Marist mission that makes visible co-responsibility and community
3.3 Promote and form Brothers and lay people for a prophetic leadership.  
3.4 Favour relationships that ensure the transmission of the charism favouring community nuclei at local and provincial level.  
3.5 Favour relationships among lay people and Brothers that transmit hope and happiness in combined formation, generating life among us and with others, especially with those who are at the margins of the process.  
4.1 Constitute passionate communities for Christ and for human beings, faithful to the Marist charism that integrates life and prayer. Communities that become mediators between the believing and non-believing world, being signs of the gospel and homeliness in the style of Mary. 

4.2 Promote a significant presence among children and young people, in vulnerable situations and at social risk, especially, in places where there are no others. It has to be a maternal presence, like Mary’s. 

4.3 Experience signs of sharing with institutions, ecclesiastic, interreligious and social movements. Developing flexibility, inculturation, travel and inconvenience, in a changing world. 

4.4 Revise and re-define structures, works and services so that they show the evangelizing action and transforming commitment of our mission. 

4.5 Participate, from our own identity, in spaces for the promotion and defence of human rights, especially of the child and young person, with an involvement in public politics. 


Amazonia: Valdir Gobatto, brother. América Central: Sergio Pérez, lay and Luis Carlos Gutiérrez, brother. Brasil Centro Norte: Rita Rocha, lay, and Wagner Cruz, brother. Brasil Centro Sul: Lúcia Coelho, lay, and Anacleto Peruzzo, brother. Compostela: Carlos Hernández, brother. Cruz del Sur: Marcos Denevi, lay. Ibérica: Ernesto Tendero, brother. L’Hermitage: Jaume Parés, brother. Mediterránea: Juan García, lay. México Occidental: Cecilia Cortez, lay. Norandina: Cristina Ángel and Claudia Rojas, lay. Paraguay: Francisco Romero, brother. Río Grande do Sul: Sérgio Schons, lay. Santa María de los Andes: Mónica Aguirre, lay. Centro de Espiritualidad El Escorial: Javier Espinosa, brother.Enlarged Bureau of the Laity: Ana Sarrate, lay, and Pau Fornells, brother.

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