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4 December

Saint John Damascene and John Calabria
1889, opening of the first Marist school in Colombia

Marist Calendar - December

The Vocation of the lay Marist



Meeting of the commission on the marist laity

21/05/2008: General House - Photo gallery

The members of the commission drawing up the document on the vocation of the lay Marist had our third meeting in the General House from 5th - 10th of May 2008. At the moment this commission consists of Anne Dooley (Melbourne), Annie Girka (LHermitage), Bernadette Ropa (Melanesia), Carlos Navajos (Central America), Chema Pérez Soba (Iberia) and Sérgio Schons (Rio Grande do Sul) as the lay people, and Brothers Afonso Murad (Brazil Centro-Norte), Rémy Mbolipasiko (East-Central Africa) and Pau Fornells (Bureau of the Laity). Bro. Juan Miguel Anaya (Procurator General) was also present as consultant.

In the course of the whole meeting we kept in mind Mr. Noel Dabrera (Sri Lanka), who died on 6th December 2007, and who had been a member of the commission from its commencement on February 2006. His presence, always affable, profound and constructive encouraged our intense work during these days, as well as our moments of shared prayer. Thank you, Noel, for your witness to the Marist life!

The commission had its first meeting in April 2006, establishing the agreed foundations of what the document had to be, regarding objectives, target group, style and fundamental content. From the very beginning we wanted to distinguish, from among all the sympathetic lay people and collaborators of the charism and the Marist mission, those who live their relationship with what is Marist as a specific Christian vocation: lay and Marist. That is to say, the document, although directed to all the lay people and Brothers involved in Marist spirituality and mission, will emphasise the lay Marist vocation, understood as a call from God and as a conscious answer of some men and women who consider themselves to be Marists.

It was also the decision of the commission not to speak of the vocation of the lay Marist in the abstract, merely through theological concepts, but starting from vocational stories. To do this, each administrative unit of the Institute was asked to send testimonies of lay Marist vocation, written by those same main characters. We received 92 life stories, 49 women and 43 men, belonging to 25 provinces and 3 districts (they are being published here), which were studied by the commission in order to select those fundamental elements that constitute the object of our document. This work was carried out until the end of February 2007, when the commission met for a second time.

Starting from then, we began to edit the first draft of the document, following the outline of the document approved in this second meeting. Three lay members of the commission were designated to edit it, different chapters being distributed among them. They were then translated and studied by everyone, sending the three editors any corrections, amendments, suggestions, etc. In this way a second draft was made which followed the same process as the first one.

The main objective of the third meeting was to come to an agreement on the main variations that the document should have with a view to editing a third draft that included the most important observations exchanged among the members of the commission, the Enlarged Bureau of the Laity and others. The document was once again studied at global level (objectives, target groups, style and structure of contents) in order to reach the analysis of the contents, chapter by chapter. One single editor was already chosen for the following versions and a new schedule of work was agreed for finalizing the document, planned, in principle, for the end of 2009.

The work rhythm was very intense, work being done at a personal level, in linguistic groups and in plenary, even far beyond the hours agreed initially in the approved methodology. We were aware of the importance of our work and of the necessity of arriving at a consensus. Neither the linguistic difficulties, the cultural differences nor the different levels of development of the lay vocation in each one of our provinces, caused any tensions among us nor were we ever disheartened. At every moment, there was attentive listening and valuing of the contributions of each one of us, trying to listen to the voice of the Spirit through our work. The mutual enthusiasm and happiness which reigned contributed to reaching a consensus through conviction and not fatigue. Also contributing to this were our relaxing community trips to Tivoli, on Thursday afternoon, and to Viterbo, Bagnoregio and Orvieto, on Sunday.

By the end, our faces showed our fatigue, but also our great satisfaction; because there always existed the conviction that we were giving the best of ourselves and that God was truly present among us during these days. We were happy to confirm that, little by little, the document was taking on a more vital aspect, attractive, prophetic and original.

We hope that the third draft will be ready and translated into the four official languages of the Institute by November of this year and that it can be sent to the General Council and some lay people and Brothers of each one of the administrative units of the Institute for study and feedback later; so that we can have a fourth draft by the end of April 2009, when we plan to have our fourth and last meeting. That will be the time to fine tune the result of our work and to be able to present it definitively to the General Council in the plenary meetings of June 2009 to be approved for distribution.

We ask for the prayers of all the lay people and Brothers of the world that we do not falter in our efforts and that we open ourselves to the grace of God present in the commission and in all of those who will work with us.

Bro. Pau Fornells Sala
Bureau of the Laity

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