Today we begin living the 201st year of the Marist charism passed onto us from St. Marcellin Champagnat. Our mission to "make Jesus known and loved" is still so prevalent. As Champagnat wrote, "I still firmly believe that God desires this work, in this age when unbelief is making such frightful progress."
This is an exciting time in the Marist world! Our Third century will be defined by the relationship between the Marist Brothers and Lay Marists. However, there are still many questions: What is a Lay Marist? Who is a Lay Marist? How does one determine this status? What formation should occur to be a Lay Marist? What does it mean, on a day to day basis, to say, "I am Marist" too?
The Marist Brothers Institute has attempted to answer these questions at several meetings, including our recent 22nd General Chapter. An international Commission on Being Lay Marist has been working on these questions for several recent years. And, last June, at our Province Assembly, we opened a brief discussion on these very important identity questions.
I am excited to invite you, colleagues, friends, Marist Family - Lay Marists - as well as any interested Brother of the USA province, to join me from July 18 - 20, 2018 at San Alphonso Retreat Center in Long Branch, NJ for the first ever USA Lay Marist Assembly. My hope for this assembly is to create a space where you can explore the many questions surrounding being a Lay Marist, and together we can decide how the Marist charism is going to move into the future. Mr. Pep Buetas from the Hermitage Province and Mrs. Patti Rios from the Mexico Occidentale Province, both from the FMS International Commission on Lay Marists, have been invited to present and to assist in facilitation.
The cost of the assembly and your stay at San Alphonso Retreat Center will be paid by the Province - participants will be responsible for travel only. A committee of lay people has been formed to work on the details of the assembly. They will be sending more information, including registration materials, in the very near future. However, in the interim, if you have any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions, please forward them to Maureen Hagan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Matt Fallon (email@example.com).
I hope you will consider joining me and your lay colleagues and friends at our first USA Lay Marist Assembly. See you at the Jersey Shore!
God bless you and your families during the beginning of our third century. And, let's remember to pray for each other throughout 2018.