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The Expanded Secretariat for the Laity holds meeting in Central America

27/03/2009: Guatemala

The Expanded Secretariat for the Laity, consisting of Tony Clark (Sydney), Linda Corbeil (Canada) and Ana Sarrate (Ibérica), and Brothers Afonso Murad (Brasil Centro Norte) and Pau Fornells (Director of the Secretariat), held their annual meeting at which they planned all the activities for the rest of the year. This year the meeting took place the first week of March in Guatemala.

We have enjoyed the welcome, the kindness and the hospitality of the Brothers and lay people of the Central America province, and we are grateful for their having made us feel so much at home.

During our stay in this beautiful country, we had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the lay people of the province. It was an exchange of experiences, concerns and hopes, and was very helpful to all involved as we, laity and Brothers, continue our journey together. We were impressed by the quality of the formation processes that have blossomed in different areas of the province and by the involvement of the lay men and women in their development: well-structured processes with a view to the future, and a creative and committed Marist laity who closely identify with the charism.

As the Expanded Secretariat for the Laity, we evaluated what has happened during the past year and the challenges that lie ahead. We realize the breadth of our objectives, but we also see that, little by little, many of the projects we dreamed of are being implemented.

We especially value the experiences of joint formation and vitality of the charism held in July 2008 in Quito, in January 2009 in Chosica and the one scheduled for May of this year in France for the Anglo-French provinces, and which is now in the final stages of preparation. In addition, there is the workshop on Spirituality and Marist Laity that will be held for all of Marist Africa in Nairobi (Kenya), jointly with the Secretariat for Religious Life. We have a sense that these experiences have become new and vital steps along the path of recreating our Marist charism; such is the opinion of the Brothers and lay men and women who have participated in them. After the international event at St. Paul Trois-Châteaux, there will be a full evaluation of the experiences, in order to determine some common threads.

We’ve also collaborated with the editorial committee working on the document “The Vocation of the Lay Marist”, by our contributions and suggestions regarding its distribution. This is one of our next goals: to set the stage for the document’s being welcomed and reflected on throughout the Institute.

In addition, the General Council has asked us to think about and offer proposals on the subject of ways for our Marist laity’s association with or belonging to the Institute. This topic has led to many hours of study and dialogue. So far, there has been little reflection in the Institute on this subject, despite the interest among both Brothers and laity and its prime importance for the future vitality of the charism. We decided to develop a consultation on it, together with the Procurator General’s office, and present the results to the next General Chapter.

There will also be, for the first time, collaboration in the animation of some province retreats, based on the theme “A Church of Communion/Brothers and Lay Marists Journeying Together”.

In summary, our most important objectives for 2009-2010 will be:

• to suggest methods for Institute-wide reflection on the new document on Marist laity,
• to support and implement joint formation experiences on provincial and regional levels,
• to gather materials and resources for retreats and meetings on the collaborative efforts of Brothers and laity,
• to maintain regular contact with lay Marist activities and to keep people informed of them,
• to give attention to the needs and ways of expressing the CMMF,
• to set in motion the contact network of the laity for the provinces,
• and to reflect on the forms of association and belonging of Marist laity to the Institute or the charism.

In addition to the work accomplished during our stay, we enjoyed some leisure time visiting the city of Guatemala, learning its history in Antigua, and the daily rhythm of life in the streets and markets.

Some of the experiences that left a lasting impression were getting to know some of the Marist ministries in the province, especially the visit to the Marist School, where Br. Moisés Cisneros was assassinated in 1991, and where his “spirit” continues being very much present; the welcome and simple sharing by the Marist Sisters of Champagnat, who opened their humble home and their hearts to us; and finally, our visit with the Brothers in the scholasticate, where we all shared our ways of being Marist.

The five of us who comprise this Secretariat feel we form a small community that not only shares the work, but also our lives, concerns and hopes. The language difference is not an obstacle to our feeling this unity (although we are very grateful for the work of the translators at the meetings) and we offer inspiration to one another with accounts of what is happening in our various provinces or regions. Marcellin’s dream is very much alive in our family, and Our Good Mother continues to do everything for us.

Ana Sarrate Adot
Expanded Secretariat for the Laity
1 – 7 March 2009

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