- Europe Marist Lay LINK


These are the words of our Founder, FatherJean Claude Colin. Pope Francis, in callingthe Synod of the Universal Church, said: 'We must live another way of being Church'. I believe that the mostbeautiful thing about the Chapter of the European Province of the Marist Fathers, held in Rome from 6 to 14June 2022 - preceded by an electronic session held from 27 to 29 May, in which some Lay Marists alsoparticipated - was precisely putting as the underlying theme of every moment these words of our Founder andof our current Pope; thereby, combining and comparing every prayer, action, thought, word, aspiration andperspective with this interpretative key. Finally, moving beyond the limits of our own horizon, our Founder'sprophecy, and fidelity to the Pope's action - aiming to trigger processes of renewal in the Church, so that shemay be ever more perfectly embodied in our time, marking a change of epoch - are the key criteria groundingour Spirituality and our journey in the Church and in the world.

During the Chapter I felt like a new spirit, giving me hope and confidence, and making me read the chapter asa positive step in the forming of our body as Province of Europe.

A step not yet fully realized, but clearly placed before us, corresponding as well to what Father Colin intended,prophetically, for the Laity in the Church.

As Fathers we must continually verify 'the lay dimension of our faith', manifested and expressed in our way ofthinking and relating to the baptized, the holy people of God.

The Marist Laity ought not to be confined within the limits of the Society. It ought to be, in a sense, a workoutside the Society, to which the Society ought to communicate its own spirit, which is the spirit of theBlessed Virgin... Thus, it is not a piece of the mechanism in the Society's clockwork, it should not revolvearound us...but it should shine out into the Church... Together with us Fathers, but independently, the laitylive the mission that is proper to them in the world and in the Church, with the style and strength of theMarist spirit, which it is our task to transmit, cultivate and support. (See Postulatum of Alphonse Cozon:statement of Colin's ideas on the Third Order, May 9,1880).

Pope Francis invites the whole Church to free herself from the virus of clericalism and to believe that everybaptized person is called to live the Gospel and to be a Church that brings the Gospel of Christ Jesus into theworld, always looking beyond institutions and structures, necessary as they are.

With this 'lay spirit', the Chapter came to define the following declarations on the Marist Laity, votedunanimously by the capitulants:
  1. In accordance with Fr Colin's intuition, the vocation of the lay Marist is to be like a bridgeto bring the joy of the Gospel to the heart of the world in Mary's way.
  2. The Marist Fathers are aware that the lay branch is an essential part of the Marist Familyand that the Work of Mary in Europe will continue fundamentally through the life andmission of lay Marists.
  3. The Chapter welcomes the contribution of the laity during the pre-capitular sessions andreaffirms its commitment to support, accompany and strengthen the European MaristLay Coordination (EMLC), and other forms or structures of association and collaborationthat already exist or may emerge in the future initiated by the laity.
  4. The Provincial Administration will see to it that the Marist Link confreres at the Provincialand National levels carry out the mission they have received.
  5. We also assume the responsibility of passing the Marist spirit to those lay professionalswho collaborate with us in the management and development of our life and mission.
  6. We ask the Provincial Administration, as far as possible and wherever possible:
    • to promote the mission shared with lay Marists;
    • to adhere to the proposals that they may make to us;
    • and to be open to any proposal for the provision of a retreat every second year for lay Marists as well asreligious.
P. Antonio Airò, sm

Pre-chapter online meeting
By David Sanz ( from Spain)

Some members of the Marist Family (Fathers and Lay people) gathered on an online meeting before the MaristFather's Chapter. This took place at the weekend of 27-28 May and the purpose of this event was to come up withideas about collaboration on the side of both branches to be brought to the coming chapter. First, Marist Fathersoutlined the importance of not imposing what they want, being close to the Marist laity in their missions andstrengthening the links with volunteers in their projects and missions. Second, Lay Marists asked for training fortheir leaders, improved communication between branches, developing dialogue and interdependence and,eventually, leadership in projects (decision making by work teams and not only Marist Fathers). As a summary, itwas a two-day online conference where everyone shared their thoughts and experiences, touched by the spirit ofMary.

European Marist Laity

Coordination meeting-18-21 July 2022

After 2 years of online meetings, the EMLChad the chance to get together in person atHigh Leigh (Hoddesdon - England). Themain reason for our gathering was to knowthe house and area where the nextmeeting for Lay European Marists will take place next year; this matter was included in the agenda, as well as some other points, as follows: 1) Current situation of Lay Marists groups in each country ; 2) Conclusions / comments after the Marist Father's Chapter, relating to the Marist Laity; 3) Suggestions / proposals ; 4) Finances ; 5) EMLC (revision of roles) ; 6) High Leigh European Marist Laity meeting (2023):Daily plan and activities

The Current Situation of Marist Groups in each country

England (Pam Kershaw)

There are 6 groups in the whole country. Some peopleare isolated across the country, so they meet everyother month. After Covid time it has not been easy tomeet face to face, but we have been doing it for thelast year (we use online zoom meetings as well). Aswe do every year, 200 people met in Walsingham inthe first weekend of July, to visit our Lady and the dothe Pilgrimage to the shrine in Norfolk; it was a feastfor the Marist family. In September we had arecollection day for all the Marist laity groups, sharingthe spirit of Mary. Many groups are continuing tomeet and work even though the presence of Sistersor Fathers is not guaranteed (a sign of independence).

Ireland (Nuala Fox)

Most of the people go presently to the laity meetings,although it has been difficult since Covid appeared.We are getting back to the previous routine, little bylittle (some people have had big difficulties after thepandemic). There are zoom meetings every Saturdaynight for some groups.

There are some celebrations: • the recollectionweekend at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock, inMay, where 40 people from the Marist Familygathered. • The Marist Day, on 11th September, thewhole Marist family gathering in remembrance of theHoly Name of Mary.

• St. Peter Chanel's Day, celebrating a feast whichgathered people with interesting life events.There is a need of training for leaders in our groups.

Norway (Sire-Beate Hanssen)

We have monthly meetings. There is one group, and, after some ups and downs, it has gone ahead (there was anew acquisition who left in a short time to join the Orthodox Church). We have had a one-day pilgrimage to asanctuary with some friends, which was quite fruitful. Some of these friends (not lay Marists) have shown interestin deepening their Marist spirituality (even though they belong to different churches). This is the reason why, ifthey continue interested, Siri will invite them to come to next year's meeting at High Leigh.

France (Alexandra Yannicopoulos B.)
The French Marist laity presents very diverse andcontrasting aspects, depending on whether thepeople are professional collaborators of Mariststructures or whether they have lived a long historyof friendship and closeness with the Fathers and ingroups. Thus, in France there are :
  • the Fraternities, heirs of the Third Order, present inthe Paris region and rather old. They maintain regularmeetings, an annual outing for the different groups -this year a pilgrimage to Lisieux on 13 and 14 October(photo below) ; the publication of Le signet, andparticipation in the animation of the network of theGroupements de Vie Evangélique (GVE). The GVEbring together 13 different Third Orders or secularfraternities associated with religious families. MireilleMa hé has been the leader of the Marist Fraternitiesand vice-president of the GVE for the past 8 years. TheGVE are accompanied by a Marist Father, FrançoisChauvet.
  • the canonical association Marists in education forteachers in Marist schools ;
  • the lay people isolated in Nîmes, Paris or Avignondistrict, but also the lay friends close to La Neylière orto the Marist Cultural and Spiritual Centre of Toulon,with the hiring of two newcomers for these twostructures since last spring: Thomas Gillet as directorof La Neylière and Marie-Pierre Julien at the CCSM.
  • The Marist Laity Animation Committee meets threeweekends a year; it will organise a spiritual stopoverat La Neylière in May 2023 ; it is in charge of thevarious training courses in Marist spirituality, as wellas the publication of Regards Maristes. It provideslegal support for the organization of Relais Maristes.The next one will take place in Alsace during the weekof the 15th August 2023.
Italy (Paolo Serafíni)

The Marist laity groups are attached to the Marist Fatherscommunities (no school). There are 3 groups in the north, 2groups in the middle of the country and 1 group in the south,which is more isolated. Because of long distances, it is noteasy to have a gathering of all the groups (last one was anonline meeting during the lockdown); therefore, they haveopted for having local meetings. After the pandemic, localgroups have continued to meet regularly, but personal/family situations have caused difficulties to have regularattendance by most of the members. On the other hand, thepandemic forced us to stop the training groups; hopefully they can start again soon. Moncalieri's group has been working on some questions for the synod meeting, deepening on the following points: the Marian face of ourestimony and focus on the important words to talk about (as FatherColin said). On the 11th September, atMoncalieri, the laypeople and the fathers of the area around Turin met at Villa Santa Maria. On the 12thSeptember, at Castiglion Fiorentino, in the sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie del Rivaio, the parishcommunity, the fathers and the lay Marists celebrated the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, and then on the 15thNovember the Founder's Day with the Marist novices in formation at Montauto in Tuscany and the fathersresponsible for their formation.

Spain (David Sanz)

There are two main groups (in Madrid and Valladolid). Somepeople are scattered in other towns; however, they try to connectonline to the monthly meetings in in one or other groups. We havebeen quite involved in reflecting on Pope Francis' text 'Fratellitutti' for our meetings. Nevertheless, some personal /familysituations have caused difficulties having a regular attendance.After no general meeting since 2019 (none in 2020 and assemblyby zoom in 2021), we spent a day of retreat in Ávila on 5thNovember. Afterwards, we took the opportunity to have theannual national meeting. There was time to reflect on the issuesof the Marist laity in Spain and its implications for the Church.

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17 December 2022

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