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The laity deliver their message to the 21st General Chapter

19/09/2009: General House - Photo gallery

Various provinces have taken the opportunity of the time before the organization of the daily work of the assembly to present the capitulants with a souvenir of their province or country. Today the brothers of the Hermitage Province gave everyone an electronic one. It included some animated presentations of the remodeling of the Hermitage and the proposal of new services, which it hopes the new house of Marist spirituality will offer in the future.

Listening to the letters

The “Letter to the Preparatory Commission” written by each table was a work of the imagination in which each one dreamed of the progress the Institute was going to make over the next eight years. As each table shared the contents of its letter with the assembly, it was observed that new ingredients were added, which gave heart to all. It was an important moment in the development of the Chapter. This activity showed a great unity in the vision of the future for the Institute and a very high level of consensus. Many expressed satisfaction that the exercise had opened horizons for them, given them a broader vision of the future, and filled them with enthusiasm for what could be achieved in the coming years. Although this was a theoretical exercise, it is hoped that some initiatives, which emerged during the drawing up of the letters, will be taken into account later when it is time for decision making.

The laity deliver their message to the Chapter

After a brief break, the lay people shared their message with the Brothers of the Chapter.

The text of the message was entitled: “On Pilgrimage to a new heart for a new world”. It begins: “we would like to express our appreciation for the opportunity to be here amongst our brothers” … “to share community life and to travel a unique spiritual journey together”. They recognize that this Chapter has made them feel more strongly committed to the mission, to their own vocation and their responsibility to other lay Marists, and they leave for their homes carrying in their hearts “the conversations and sentiments we have shared, unique to this time and place”.

The message goes on to mention the “ideals” and “hopes,” and adds three recommendations: “To give definitive recognition to the lay Marist vocation, to promote meetings between Brothers and lay Marists throughout the Institute to enable us to share our lives more deeply, and to strengthen the structures fostering co-responsibility for the charism”. The final part reads: “We commit ourselves firmly to work together, Brothers and laity, in fostering all these initiatives”. Warm applause greeted this contribution from the lay people.

There were only nine lay people in the hall since Agnes Reyes, from East Asia, could not come. The members of the tenth table, therefore, distributed themselves among the other nine so that each had a lay person to dialogue with on the contents of the message just shared. This dialogue took some time.

This session concluded with the floor being thrown open. Some Brothers expressed appreciation of the witness of the laity at the Chapter, adding that they had discovered a new way of looking at the reality of the lay Marist.

With Chema as spokesperson, the lay persons thanked the capitulants for the attention they had received and the welcome given them. She concluded: “Courage! We are quiet and confident because you are going to perform a spectacular work”.

Around the same table

The day and the week concluded with Mass and a meal. The Eucharist began at the door to the chapter hall. Before proclaiming the word of God, the lay people distributed seeds among the capitulants, which were scattered to the four winds as they moved in procession from the hall to the chapel.

Before the homily, Dilma, from Brasil Centro-Norte, explained the significance of this gesture performed in unión with the word of God. After the priest finished his homily, the nine laity placed themselves under the protection of Mary by reciting the Ave Maria together in the middle of the assembly. The prayers of the faithful were also read by the laity, reflecting the plurality of the charism incarnate in the Marist world. During communion, images of children’s faces from different races and countries were projected on the walls. This mosaic of children’s and young peoples’ faces reminded all of the joint mission of Brothers and laity.

After communion, Erica, of the Province of Sydney, in the name of Linda, Rufus, Angela, Fernando, Arturo, Irma, Chema and Dilma, expressed gratitude for the opportunity of being here among the Brothers, conscious, she said, that “we are breathing new life into this dynamic and precious charism”. She finished with a word of thanks to the General Council, and Brother Sean in particular, for having invited them to the Chapter, for the precious souvenir of Mary of the Visitation, presented to them the previous evening, and for all the other opportunities offered them over recent years.

Before the farewells, the laity presented all present with a candle in the form of a heart, a heart representing the light shared.

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