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Defying our usual inertias



Towards a new profile of the Secretariat of the Laity

24/11/2017: General House

The Chapter message points out the challenge lived in the last Chapter: “Challenged to abandon our usual inertia, as well as our comforts and securities, to be able to respond genuinely to new needs.” It is in this spirit that we must read the appointment, by the general council, of a lay person as the new director of the Secretariat of the Laity, as well as the notes for a new format in the organization of such Secretariat. Since 2002, year in which a commission of laity was appointed at international level, it has been a brother who has guided and animated the lay processes in the Institute. After 15 years, as of January 2018, Raúl Amaya, a Chilean lay, married and with two children, will assume this post. Pep Buetas and Agnes Reyes will be his assistants. The group will also include João Luis Fedel, Kate Fogarty, Ana Saborío and Brother Elias Iwu. A general councillor will also be part of the Secretariat.

The step taken means there is an age of majority in the laity’s journey within the Institute. This lay leadership has been worked on during these years and is assuming that we feel brothers and laity around the same table of the Gospel and of the charism, and that together we “be a prophetic reminder of the common dignity and fundamental equality of the entire People of God.” (XXII CG, Call 3). It is the fruit of a process that continues to seek communion, but with a greater role of the laity. This new profile of the members of the Secretariat implies a greater commitment in the lay processes of their provinces, some type of personal participation in community experiences and a wider disposition for various animations in the region. The extended Secretariat wants to be an organism of animation rather than consultation or reflection.

The presence of a lay director and the focus of the animation of the members of the Secretariat, are also related to the global lay identity, or as the last Chapter has repeatedly expressed, with the sense of a charismatic Family. This concept, already widespread in the Church, is assuming a global body as Marists of Champagnat, that is, of all those who have chosen to follow Jesus in the style of Mary, through the identity of a religious brother or of a lay person. Globality is not confusion, nor assimilation, nor superposition, nor uniformity, nor homogeneity, nor equality... Globality means affinity, unity, communion, the same root, spiritual kinship, common visibility ...

The Chapter affirmed that as Marists of Champagnat, “we need new structures and processes that recognise and support our different vocational paths as Marists.” The new profile for the Secretariat expresses the desire to continue promoting the lay identity in communion with the brothers, which manifests itself in a laicism lived in the family, in one’s own profession and in the midst of the world.

The lay delegation that is being promoted in the Institute, now with the new director, means that each group of this charismatic family has its own identity, organization and specific path. This is what the final message of the II Seminar on Charism and Laity of the Latin American Conference of Religious CLAR (2017) has recalled: Charismatic families are a number of institutions and groups of believers united by a single foundational charism or charismatic root – although living different life styles and nuances of the same charism, that includes different vocations and life styles, none of which rises above or overlaps with the others, since they walk together in life complementing each other for the good of all and at the service of the Kingdom.”

The new structure of the Secretariat of the Laity challenges us to abandon comfort and security in terms of the inertia experienced in the brother-laity relationship. The challenge is for everyone. The Chapter says that, as Marists, we are all “fully committed.” Commitment of the laity in a life option for Marist values, and within a global body, with its own identity and as an organised group. And a commitment of the brothers to create the conditions that helps elaborate this path in which the Marist charismatic Family’s communion is built through vocational diversity, one’s own identity and a mature and sustainable organization.


Br Javier Espinosa

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