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From the Superiors of the four Marist branches: a common letter

01/02/2008: General House

The Superior Generals of the four Marist branches are Judith Moore, SMSM; Monica O’Brien, SM; Jan Hulshof, SM; and Seán Sammon, FMS. They have addressed a single letter to the “priests, Sisters, Brothers and lay persons who are called to live the Marist charism.” Dated January 1, 2008, feast of Mary, Mother of God, the letter is entitled, «Marist life and Mission: Gifts of the Spirit for our Times.»

The idea of the letter arose because the four branches of the Marist Family will soon be holding their General Chapters. The Marist Sisters’ Chapter will begin in June of this year. Three months later, it will be turn of the Marist Missionary Sisters, gathering at their Rome headquarters along the Via Cassia. The Marist Fathers and the SM Brothers will hold their Chapter one year later, as will the Little Brothers of Mary: these Chapters are planned for the later half of 2009.

The letter makes reference to «the process of renewal» which has been a beneficent force among the religious families, a look back towards the origins, when «men and women who founded each branch of the Society of Mary were dreamers,» thinking about the future, and “doers” who actualized their plans, because they were truly «eager to make the whole world Marist».

The members of the four Marist Family branches are now getting ready for their coming Chapters. This then is the time to «foster a true spirit of collaboration among us that will nurture the ongoing life and mission of the whole Marist Family.”

The original vision of the first Marists included priests, Sisters, Brothers and laity: «Our history over many years has led each of our branches in many different directions. We have a great deal to learn from one another and an equal amount to share».

The letter closes with an invitation «to build another century of Marist life and mission» in concert with the laity. In preparing the four General Chapters, special attention has been given to those Marist laity from all around the globe who have demonstrated a lively interest regarding the Chapter sessions to be held in the coming two years. The letter alludes to the multiform reality in which Marist laity live their lives across the world. «Their movement is worldwide in nature, but because of the diversity found in its structures and lack of a single leadership for its many faces, direct communication with all those involved can be difficult.» All the same, the Superiors hope that the message conveyed in this letter «will be shared not only with our brothers and sisters in consecrated life but with our lay partners as well.»

Read the letter

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