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Meeting of the European Lay Commission in Freising

11/04/2016: Germany

The meeting took place at The Kardinal Döpfner Centre, at the invitation of Wolfgang Hacker, who was our gracious host, representing the province of West Central Europe. The Centre, which was the former seminary of the diocese of Munich – Freising, has a lot of history and tradition.

Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, lived at the centre when he was a seminarian.

Wolfgang shared with us the beautiful experience of the Provincial Chapter, which had been held right there, with its lines of action for the coming three years: new structures for mission, development of Marist spirituality, formation for Marist leadership, supporting projects for young adults.

During our time together we spoke about the diversity of the five provinces, but we also sensed the need to join efforts and share our vision, as well as the need to walk together.

The African proverb that was shared at the IInd Mission Assembly in Nairobi, reminded us that “together we go further.” We felt motivated when listening to the richness of the lay processes and realities, like the Marist groups that unite laity and brothers in the strengthening of communion for mission, or the experiences introduced by communities that are committed to a shared life.

We listened to different ways of sharing processes of formation, spiritual retreats, and reference communities. Several provinces are promoting proposals in the area of spirituality and some of them have online programmes.

Some provinces have already elaborated a Pathway for deepening the Charism as a vocational key; another province is involved in designing the programme.

The most significant point of the agenda was the dialogue on the first responses to the Reflection Document proposed by the Secretariat for the international meeting that will be held in October, 2016, in the Hermitage.

This involved delving into the idea of a project with a formational path with a vocational perspective, and the possibilities of making a commitment together and lay affiliation, as well as in establishing common formation spaces for brothers and lay people in their response to God.

In doing this we are joining with all the regional commissions of the Institute who have been involved in the same reflection, with the intention of bringing forth proposals at the next General Chapter.

Throughout our dialogue we are seeking ways of contributing to the “new beginning” of our Marist family.

Ana Sarrate, a lay Marist from Spain, spoke about the updating process of the Champagnat Movement in a video conference.

Joseba, a member of the Commission, shared information about the process of establishing a commitment in the Ibérica province. As it happens, another group of lay people in Logroño were also reflecting on this subject at the same time.

Around 50 people have already made their commitment. Joseba stressed that this is not a final gesture, but rather marks the beginning. They commit themselves to continue to growing in their lives of faith and in their commitment to the Marist charism.

The encounter concluded with the reassurance that participants are living a time of possibility and of grace.

This time calls for walking without prejudice, without fear of starting new projects. The current time is moving us to invest in people that can accompany both personal processes as well as in groups.

Participants also felt that although there is no urgency for a lay association, they must begin to reflect on it.

The idea prevailed that an association must be born of the desire to live Marist spirituality and mission; it is the charism that gives meaning to itself.

They underscored the current process of renewing the Constitutions as an opportunity to articulate the identity of the brother as a member of the Marist Institute while holding at the same time the perspective of communion between brothers and laity.

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