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Saint Kanute, martyr
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Marist Calendar - January

Saint Paul Trois Châteaux - 2009


Meeting of combined formation for Brothers and Lay people

The experience for the English-French world
Saint Paul Trois Châteaux, France (April 26 to May 18, 2009)

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Recent General Chapters and General Administrations of the Institute have encouraged the discovery of Marist charism as a gift to the Church, a gift for all, Brothers and Laity. So when Lay People welcome it in their lives, in both the aspects of mission as well as spirituality, they become Lay Marists. The call for Lay Marists is to live jointly Marist mission and Marist spirituality.

For this reason the experience in Quito, Ecuador in 2008, and now that of sixteen English and French speaking Brothers and Lay People at Saint‐Paul‐Trois‐Châteaux, were imagined and brought to reality. It is hoped that after the experience the members of this group would be called to offer processes of joint formation in their administrative units (AUs), since they will have lived a three‐week experience during which they planned, developed and animated formation processes for each other. After a short phase of integration in which participants spent time getting to know one another more deeply and developing an appreciation of each other and their province situations, there were four key areas for process and development. Each of the processes, Faith and Vocation, Mission, Relationships and Formation, lasted two or three days, punctuated by opportunities for mission immersion and pilgrimage to Marist places and Taizé.

In striving to deepen our relationship with God, with a particular reference to Marist spirituality, we relied heavily on Water from the Rock as source material. Whilst we certainly discovered and lived the common ground of our Marist identity, we also spent significant time exploring what is specific to each of our vocations. Without a doubt, Marist can be and should be lived in different life situations. Our relationships during the time together were a cornerstone for giving us understanding of the communion from which we draw spiritually and then put into practice by going on mission. We realised that this sometimes makes demands on us, Lay Marists and Brothers, which calls us out of our comfort zones in response to the needs of others. Formed in this Marist school at Saint‐Paul‐Trois‐Châteaux, we are called to share this same formation with others across the Marist world.

And now it is our hope that, along with the new document Around the Same Table: The Vocation of Champagnat Lay Marists to be released shortly, the group of Saint‐Paul‐Trois‐Châteaux is able to offer tothe 21st General Chapter the richness of our experience that points toward new paths and new horizons, “new hearts for a new world” in which Marists, Brothers and Lay, look forward to serving in Marcellin’s way.

Faith and Vocation

The Faith and Vocation Process was designed so that a deep and personal reflective and creative experience might lead participants to trace their personal faith history as a sacred history. In each of the four processes the Marist spirituality document Water from the Rock was a significant beacon as participants took steps in sharing their journey of faith and vocation. One‐on‐one conversations between Brothers and Lay Marists helped us clarify both our initial attraction to Marist life and what sustains our specific identity as Brothers and Lay Marists. Whilst sharing a common baptism and attraction to Marist charism we grappled with issues such as the demands of family life, the role of community, vows and forms of commitment, not wanting to exclude the many who are simply attracted to Marcellin’s story and that of the early Brothers without desiring any further commitment.

We found ourselves struggling with the real distinction between professional and vocational Marists. In this sense, the question was asked about when the paid work stopped and the life choice began for some involved in various ministries. How do we identify and encourage vocational Marist life? And isn’t there a need to educate Brothers as well as Lay Marists about the evolving reality of shared Marist charism? There are also questions about how Lay Marists might be recognised in the Church. Certainly, leadership from Brothers and Lay Marists alike is needed for the appropriate encouragement of vocational Marist life.


The days spent examining Mission enabled Brothers and Lay Marists to reflect personally, communally and as AU groups on their understanding of Marist mission. Participants explored how each person has been shaped by Marist mission, realising that an appreciation of their common understanding of mission was essential in the process of further understanding the complementarity that both Brothers and Lay Marists bring through their specific identities. Brothers have provided a rich heritage, but together Lay Marists and Brothers bring a new energy and vibrancy as these threads are used to weave a new experience of charism. Consecrated religious life, single life and family life lived out in Marist mission all witness to a dramatic renewal in the Church and the world through their authentic and faithful expression.

It was suggested that AUs create structures that allow Marists to be co‐responsible for mission, following appropriate formation and then taking up roles of decision‐making and leadership. There is also a need to identify and form those younger Lay Marists and Brothers who will be able to ensure the animation of mission in Provinces and Districts in the not‐too‐distant future. Therefore, the formation of formators becomes an essential issue in the AUs.


Marist spirituality is clearly relational as evidenced by Marcellin’s relationship with Jesus and Mary as well as his relationship with the first Brothers who asked to call him, “Good Father.” This relational element was our experience participating in the three‐week experience at Saint‐Paul‐Trois‐Châteaux. Our shared Marist life was tangibly built up by daily attention to the quality of our relating. It became clear to us that at each level of our mission and community experiences it is necessary for Lay Marists and Brothers to walk together, and that we must create spaces in which to share life and faith. When we speak about a Marist vocation, we must understand that it means the vocation of the Lay Marist and the Brothers. There can be no Marist vocation without a mission, spirituality, and a sense of community. However, we need to discover what it is that people are looking for in Marist life, and what their shared common purpose might be. Clearly, whatever formation experiences we offer, we must be sure that they reflect the relational aspect of our Marist charism.


Participants in this experience were keenly aware of the formation they had been privileged to receive at many stages in their lives. Brothers and Lay Marists shared their formation stories and history, identifying those elements most essential to good formation. We also looked at what was missing or lacking in our formation experiences.

To plan and provide good formation experiences specific to the vocation of Lay Marists we asked the question “What do we want to see in this vocational Lay Marist at the end of their initial process of formation?” The discussion around that question helped us to identify the urgent need for various programs of joint formation in individual Provinces and Districts. These experiences were so highly valued by each AU as was evidenced by the structural planning of ongoing formation programs for Brothers and Lay Marists at an AU and then local level. There was a strong desire to plan for pathways and structures which would support the ongoing formation of the vocational Lay Marists even if the Province or District was not currently in a position to identify such people. Each AU looked for creative ways to support this vocational growth which reflected the cultures and specific needs of their individual Provinces or Districts.

A New Future for Lay Marists and Brothers

For the long‐term vitality of the Marist charism, we recommend that:

  1. The General Chapter focus clearly on the development of ways of belonging and being coresponsible as well as on different models and/or levels of commitment for Lay Marists.
  2. Provinces and Districts take initiative and responsibility for experimenting with and creating new models of Marist life and mission that would support Brothers and Lay Marists in their commonand specific vocations.
  3. Joint formation processes for Brothers and Lay Marists be made a priority across the Institute.
  4. Provinces and Districts develop formation programs for those Brothers and Lay Marists entrusted with the leadership of forming others. Such formation programs or experiences should be based on sound theology, Marist spirituality as expressed in current Marist documents, the rich patrimony of the Institute, and offer experiences which continue to deepen the understanding of what it means to be a Marist apostle. This calls for a new vision of joint formation, not limited simply to that of Brothers. Clearly, at all levels of the Institute there is a need to commit to and support financially the leadership necessary for the animation of these programs. In addition, the General Administration must continue to take an active role in creating and animating formation programs.
  5. Brothers and Lay Marists across the Institute continue to take responsibility together for the formation of those people who will be prepared to commit themselves to the vitality of Marist mission, making Jesus Christ known and loved among the young. Formation experiences should ensure there are adequate offerings and invitations as well as appropriate stages in which people can participate, including joint retreats, personal accompaniment and local fraternities, among many possibilities.
  6. Provinces and Districts develop formation programs that invite young adults to begin or continue their Marist life. This could be achieved especially through solidarity and vocational discernment opportunities.
  7. Appropriate structures be developed in AUs for Lay Marists and Brothers to share in authentic decisionmaking concerning Marist life and mission.
  8. AUs and the next General Council plan for the most effective means of communication to encourage the growth of shared Marist spirituality and charism for a variety of different age groups.


Br Réal Sauvageau
Mr Robert Giguére
Ms Véronique Dumais
Central West Europe
Br Michael Scmalzl
Ms Marie‐Paul Stevens
General Administration
Br Teófilo Minga
Br Jean‐Pierre Destombes
Br Bernard Régis
Br Donovan Tami
South Asia
Br Chinthana Nonis
Mrs Kamala Xavier
Br Michael Callinan
Mr Tony Clarke
Mrs Carole Wark
Mr Vincent Andiorio
Br Hank Hammer


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