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Letter from the marist laity of Venezuela

23/12/2009: Venezuela

From the city of los Teques, gathered at the Marist House of Formation, in the presence of God the Father, of our Mother Mary of Coromoto and of our Father Founder, we wish to share with you the experience we have lived during these days of reflection, Brothers and lay people together, on the theme of the identity of the Marist laity in Venezuela.

We begin this letter by declaring and acknowledging that we are assuming our identity as lay Marists, a particular and rich vocation for the Church and for the Marist Family. We are aware of our sharing in the charism left to us by Champagnat and of the responsibility of giving birth to it again with a new face. The example of Mary, who went in haste to visit and serve her cousin Elizabeth, and the example of the first Brothers sharing life together around the table at La Valla, urges us to reaffirm our vocation and to be faithful to it.

In order to give reality to this expression of the lay life, we feel the necessity of organizing ourselves through teamwork and animation. The lay life we have inherited from history and from the great number of lay persons who, in its course, have contributed their lives and spirituality to the growth of the Marist charism in this land. As part of this history, we recognize the vigor which lay youth contribute and from which have come the majority of those who, as fathers, teachers, animators, directors, and members of the different pastoral agencies, make up the variety and richness of the Marist laity of Venezuela. This history binds us today to respond to the call of Jesus, to deepen our response in a real journeying in the lay vocation. (…)

This call that we have heard from God, we have found deepened in sharing the mission with the Brothers. Thank you, Brothers, because it is you who have shown us the Marist way of life and given us a love for the charism of Champagnat. (…)

For this reason, we feel it necessary to initiate a process of formation and accompaniment which will help us to strengthen our identity as Lay Marists and allow us to hold fast and reaffirm the vocation to which we have been called.

This process of formation and accompaniment we envisage as a joint journey of Brothers and laity, in which all are responsible for building the family, following the example of Marcellin and the first Brothers in the construction of the Hermitage.

On this itinerary of formation and accompaniment, we discover some involvements and ways we must travel:

• Passionate for the charism, to share responsibility for animating a Marist Vocations Ministry, both combined and specific, which will multiply the members of our family. For this reason, to organize the Vocations Ministry team with the participation of Brothers, and single and married lay persons.
• To make ourselves present, Brothers and Laity, in the processes of Youth Ministry, giving witness to our own Christian and Marist vocation.
• To grow in personal relationship with God.
• To organize and set in motion a Plan of Basic Formation: human, Christian and Marist.
• To live the processes of formation and accompaniment in community. To let ourselves accompany and know how to accompany processes.
• To live and offer ourselves personal accompaniment, helping others to make their own decisions in faith.
• To form ourselves and make ourselves capable of accompaniment.
• Commit ourselves to significant experiences of serving the most disadvantaged children and young people. (…)

Informal spaces of sharing life and friendship between Laity and Brothers should be the source of a family relationship, a relation of equals. This relationship should be made concrete at all levels: decision making, planning, realization, evaluation.

All this implies major changes in the paradigms that have existed for many years. It is time to make a joint effort for the rebirth of the Marist charism among children and youth. We know that many of these plans have to be laid aside, especially by us Laity. Dependency on the Brothers does not help the Champagnat Laity find its identity and take on the responsibilities which our Marist Venezuela requires of us today.

We talk of a life shared between Brothers and Laymen and women, in which the specific identities of our vocations complement each other and give reality to the dream Marcellin bequeathed to us: “See how they love one another”. The time has arrived to expand the tent and share the same table. We must travel decisively and conscientiously in that direction.

The fruit of discernment realized in the different works, and as coinciding with this meeting, we acknowledge the richness and diversity of the Venezuelan Marist Laity, a laity which in its multiple expressions springs from service, from the encounter with Jesus in the poor children and young people of our beloved Venezuela. For this reason, we propose (to the new Provincial Council) the combined formation of a Commission of Laity and Brothers of Venezuela to examine, for a time of no more than a year, the possibility of converting into a mixed community one of the existing works of new presence and /or reopening one of the closed works of new presence in Venezuela (Apure, Primero de Mayo). As for this community’s mission, we would suggest that it be with children and young people in situations of risk. (…)

As Lay Marists of Champagnat we involve ourselves together with the Brothers in the challenge of helping to give birth to the dawn of a new Marist life and to strengthen the existing one by making it more creative, faithful, dynamic and prophetic. On our response depends the future of a revitalized Marist Venezuela.


Brothers and Laity of Champagnat
II National Meeting of Laity
Venezulea

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