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Preparing the future of the Marist charism

 

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Secretariat of Lay

20/06/2008: General House

In every province of the Institute there exists the will to deepen our common Marist identity, which comes from the process of walking together, brothers and lay people ("Marists of Champagnat", according to the statement issued by the International Assembly of Mendes), as well as the specific and complementary identities derived from it (cf. Choose Life, 26). The XX General Chapter expresses the firm conviction that "The Spirit of life drives us on this common road" (Id, 29) and that new signs of life will emerge if we know how "to share life: mission, spirituality, formation… “(cf. Id. 26-27). The document of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life “Walking from Christ" (2002), also affirms that "a similar ecclesiastic dynamic will benefit that renovation and the identity of the consecrated life" (31). 

That is why the Bureau of Laity, in collaboration with the Commission for Religious Life, has recognised the great importance of forming the brothers and the lay people in these processes which the Spirit indicates for the future of the charism. In the next few months they will offer two experiences of combined formation for brothers and lay people, at the whole congregation level. The first one will be for the Hispanic-Portuguese linguistic area: 10 brothers and 11 lay people, belonging to 14 administrative units (AU), who will share their Marist life (faith, vocation, relationship with others, mission and formation) in Quito (Ecuador), during the month of July 2008. The second experience, for the Anglo-French linguistic area, will be carried out in St. Paul Trois-Châteaux (France), from 26th April to 17th May 2009, with a similar number taking part. Their main objective is to prepare a group of brothers and lay people to promote processes of combined formation in their own administrative units. 

In the same area, and building on the experience of the Year of Spirituality, in Nairobi (Kenya), there will take place, from 18th to 30th September 2008, a workshop on spirituality for brothers and lay people from the five administrative units of Africa and Madagascar. A shared spirituality implies a charism and a mission which is also shared in a common Church. 

Whoever receives the Marist charism cannot keep it to himself. A charism is for the mission; that is to say, for others. Also, whoever lives the charism passes it on through "infection". In fact, it is the same God who passes it on, but he does it through Marists, brothers and lay people who passionately live this gift which they have received. It is what we call “pastoral vocation.”  

Until now, traditionally, there has existed a pastoral vocation solely directed to presenting the vocation of the Marist Brother. Thank God, today we also begin to feel the need to help young people and adults to meet with a God who proposes a wider Marist life: brothers, lay people, and priests. Thus, the province of Santa María de los Andes wants to start, with the help of the Bureau of Laity, a Project of pastoral vocation for lay people. To achieve that objective it will develop a workshop for brothers and lay people in Chosica (Peru) from the 3rd to the 13th January 2009, with about 40 participants, 6 of them invited from the province of Cruz del Sur. 

Other provinces are also beginning to realise the importance of the formation of the brothers in this new way of being "Marists sharing in different ways of life". This "sharing of Marist life” is not as easy as it would seem. It presupposes the understanding of a call from the Spirit and a conversion of the heart that enables us to "enlarge the space of the tent". In this sense, the province of Norandina has been the first to request the Bureau of Laity to animate the four annual retreats of 2009 for the brothers in this key area of living the charism shared in a common Church.

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