NEW ZEALAND LAY MARIST WORKSHOP
(18-20 April 2012)
The workshop came about as an activity having its origins in the Strategic Plan for the Marist Brothers of the Province of New Zealand. There is a need to establish an Identity for Lay Marists in the Province. It was decided to bring a group of committed lay people together to workshop this. From lunchtime on Wednesday to lunchtime on Friday the group picked up the challenge and experienced a very rich and rewarding time together. The definition below is the outcome of deep discernment and vibrant dialogue. While acknowledging that the definition is not the final word it is a positive development in the journey of lay Marists coming to understand themselves better in these rapidly changing times.
The statement of Identity which emanated from the recent New Zealand Lay Marist Workshop, 18 - 20 April, involving Lay Marists from throughout is:
The New Zealand Lay Champagnat Marist Identity
The Lay Marist:
• Is anybody who responds to the call of God: men and women of all ages, people who live Marcellin’s charism of shared life, mission and spirituality.
• Lives Marcellin’s charism through the 5 Pillars
• To make Jesus Christ known and loved to children and young people on the margins. It is our way of living, involving our being and doing. Our constant thought towards those we serve is “First you must love them and love them all equally”.
• Is expressed in Partnership both between Brothers and Lay, and amongst ourselves, in evolving familial relationships which are synergetic by nature.
• Has a core dimension which is Marial. Mary is our model who leads us to Jesus. She is the one who encourages us towards living in the constant presence of God in our daily lives. “All to Jesus through Mary and all to Mary for Jesus”.
The statement pares back the core expression of being a Lay Marist. It can be adapted to suit Lay Marists in various stages of formation. Some expressions have been borrowed or adapted from other documentation.
Comments from some of the Participants
Lay Marist Workshop
The Lay Marist Workshop was a wonderful opportunity to strengthen existing friendships and to develop and grow new ones, as 12 participants came together in community to explore and express who we are as an entity in New Zealand.
For two days we prayed, debated, and at times, struggled with the words that best represented our group’s perception of the Lay Marist movement.
It was an intense period of personal discernment and affirmation, as well as a shared experience and bonding with other Champagnat Marists walking side by side.
We spent time in prayer and shared conversation with the Brothers who were attending their 40-60 conference at Sacred Heart College, on our last morning, which was beneficial for all concerned.
Thank you Alan and Brother David for helping the partnership to develop and mature, as we begin to take the first faltering steps together towards the new land, with Mary as our guide.
Being together with the group of Marist – both Lay and Brothers, reinforces the power of the Champagnat Charism and how important it is for me to do everything I can to keep it strong in the school. The practical approach – the doing in teaching always with God at the start, middle and end – helps me to encourage students to try their best. It strengthens the way I teach and nearly always stops me from giving up on a student.
I was approached by an ex-student on Friday night after Harold Leask’s farewell as Principal. The student was a struggler and often found himself at odds with the system. He had potential to achieve but not a lot of faith in himself. He was one of my boys – we clashed but basically we liked one another. He said to me on Friday – thank you so much for the reference you wrote when I left school – I know I was trouble but I have sorted myself out, travelled around the world, seen sights that make you realise just how good we have it in New Zealand. You said that I would do well at whatever I set my mind to and I have – I have my skipper’s ticket and I am in-charge of a fishing boat and doing really well. Another good day in teaching.
Thank you to the Marist Brothers who have inspired me, supported me and given me hope for the future.
Bev McDonald (Coordinator of Lay Marists – Marist Fathers)
For me it was uplifting to listen and learn more about the Champagnat Marist Charism and how life giving it is in your lives. There are far more commonalities with wider Marist laity than distinctions so the identity statement was a source of great encouragement for me as a Lay Marist. I am hopeful our Lay Marist life can be shared in various ways in the future as we all grow in understanding of how God is moving amongst us. I also valued the process, shared prayer and holding lightly to goals to let the Holy Spirit work gently in a Marial way amongst us.
Meeting with the Brothers was an object lesson in how shared life and co-responsibility can work when we commit to both enter and stay in the conversation and I am grateful for being welcomed so warmly amongst you all. Ma Te Atua koe e manaaki.
The meeting of the Lay Marists was a wonderful opportunity to deepen the relationship which is growing among ourselves. The final statement on identity was succinct, not full of surprises and very meaningful. The range of people and their ministries meant the discussion was wide-ranging and thoughtful. The value of the process was invaluable.
It is with deep gratitude that I am involved with such a dedicated group of people (both in this group and beyond) who only want to see young people have a chance in the Marist way. Our joining up with the Brothers was a bonus and spending time listening to their realistic assessment of the journey of Champagnat Marists in New Zealand was heart warming. Their acceptance of Lay Marists as true partners in the charism is something I cherish.
The workshop was for me a reconfirmation of my call for this stage in my life. I greatly appreciated not only the chance to have a frank and good natured discussion about our Lay-Marist identity but also to be treated as a complete equal despite me being a bit younger and not directly involved in education. I started reading the little book you gave me which started with the superior general who himself thought the word fragility best describe the status of the Marist institute today. Before I read that line I took his advice and thought of a word that described the institute, my word was Hope so I was surprised to see him use fragility. For me I took away hope from the workshop and think of hope as the best describing word for the institute as I believe our work will help spread the charism.
As always I love the chance to interact with the brothers. Through any conversation with them we can learn more about the charism and ourselves to help continue the work.
The workshop provided me with opportunity, opportunity to:
+ get to know some very interesting people from diverse backgrounds, ages and stages in life
+ learn more about Marcellin
+ begin to understand more about the term “lay Marist”
+ feel comfortable in the presence of people with shared values and in most cases shared views
The experience of the meeting with the brothers was an absolute eye opener for me. The wisdom and vision of the brothers around the table with two of us was amazing! Revolutionary views! A huge desire for action! Br David has some very good men whose thinking and energy he needs to capitalise on. A partnership with brothers of this ilk gives me boundless hope. It was a hugely valuable session.
I appreciate Lay Maristness so much more because of the workshop. I felt a strong sense of identity already from the people gathered, before we even started talking about what we believed our identity is. The workshop gave more shape to my own Lay Marist identity in the way that it acknowledged my presence, in my relative newness to active Marist spirituality, and in affirming my commitment to aspire to meet Marcellin's challenge.
Meeting the brothers achieved a goal of meeting brothers! I value being familiar with different brothers, being welcomed into their family and exposure to their wisdom and gentleness in the capacity that that has to inspire me to live deeper into my spirituality as Lay Marist, as Christian, as Catholic and as lover of Mary.
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