Madagascar: Lycée St Joseph Antsirabe
On July 23, 1816, the day after their ordination, a group of young priests, full ofenthusiasm, travelled to the shrine of Fourvière in Lyon. At the feet of our Lady, in the small chapel behind me, they promised to establish the Society of Mary. In 2016, we will celebrate the pledge made in that chapel 200 years ago. The icon of Fourvière, therefore, will guide us in this second year, from July 2015 to July 2016.
From the beginning, the first Marists conceived the Society of Mary as a large tree with different branches: priests, brothers, sisters and lay people. The project was not recognized by the Church at that time; perhaps the historical situation was not yet ripe.
Today, circumstances are very different today. We gratefully acknowledge the fact that the Holy Spirit has made lay Marist vocations flourish among us. Thousands of lay men and women around the world feel called to live the Gospel like Mary, according to the tradition of Father Champagnat and the first brothers. The origins of the Society of Mary remind us that, as religious and laity, we come together for mission, and are called to be the Marian face of the Church through our particular way of being and building Church.
Our last General Chapter invited us to a new relationship between brothers and lay people, to better serve the inspiring mission entrusted to us by the Church. The same Chapter stated: we see our Marist future as a communion of people in the charism of Champagnat, open to the creativity of the Holy Spirit, who can lead us, perhaps, on paths we might never have imagined.