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First Lay Assembly in the Province of Central America

13/12/2019: El Salvador
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Over three days, 34 Laypeople and 8 Brothers gathered for the first Lay Assembly of the Province of Central America. This initiative, the brainchild of the Laity Commission and the fruit of dialogue with the Council, has been in the planning since the end of 2018. The participants were united in their conviction that the story begun by Champagnat and the First Brothers continues today in the hearts of many Marists who have chosen to follow Jesus in the way of Mary. To bring this story into better focus, place it into our Province context, foster a collective identity that takes up the story as never-ending in our region, were among the aims of the gathering.

The richness resulting from the diversity of participants is to be highlighted, as well as the multiple sensitivities around our common dream. Besides laypeople from the various countries of the Province – Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Puerto Rico – there were others from Canada, Colombia, Chile and Bolivia. Diverse we certainly were but we discovered the same spirit around the one table and in the strength of our relations as Marist brothers and sisters. The attendance of Br Josep M. Soteras, General Councillor, and Raúl Amaya, Director of the Secretariat of the Laity, helped us to grow in our international vision.

In the months leading up to the Assembly, we made use of reflection sheets on the three broad themes to be taken up: identity, communion, formal bonding- association. The fruits of reports on these reflections were set out in a working paper as a focus for the Assembly process. The flow of the gathering, with personal, small group, and Assembly dynamics, helped in refining proposals, defining concepts, clarifying language and spelling out the implications of the proposals for Laypeople, Brothers, and the various Province entities.

The Assembly gave rise to a feeling of hope, even in the face of a number of future challenges. Ways of deepening our communion were presented, be they between Brothers and Lay, or between Lay and Lay. After identifying various approaches to living the Marist charism, an attempt was made to give a name those who are choosing to adopt the charism as a lifestyle. It was suggested that the concerns of Marist laypeople and communion should be a common feature in all Province plans. The presence of a group of young Marists was a sign of a future communion based on ongoing formation activities.  Regarding official bonding  and association, the wish was expressed for a road-map setting out times and people to develop possibilities. There was a desire to continue the serious efforts of the Province to create formation pathways with a vocational character.

We all resonated with phrases like: "Only the one who is able to see far and well, can glimpse tomorrow.” "We are invited to leave our routines behind, to think outside known schemes.” "We need star trackers, pathfinders, beacons of a new future.”  We concluded that the experience we had shared was inviting us laymen and laywomen and brothers to be beacons of a new future.

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Nohemy Pinto, Province Lay Coordinator for Central America
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