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Marist Bulletin - Number 224


1st American Meeting of the Champagnat Movement of the Marist Family

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Fusagasugá, Colombia, 2nd to the 5th November 2005

The General Councils Laity Commission, with 75% of fraternities being found in America, convoked the 1st American Meeting of the Champagnat Movement of the Marist Family in this geographic region at Fusagasugá, in Colombia, from the 2nd to the 5th November 2005. Until this time, the animation and the co-ordination of the Movement had been effected exclusively at the level of each Province, except for Mexico. The General Councils Laity Commission believed that the moment had arrived to put all the members and councillors of the Movement of the whole region into contact, that is to say, from thirteen Administrative Units that go from Canada to Cruz del Sur. For that meeting, they invited three or four participants per Province and two per Sector (one brother among them) who could play the role of animators and who could have a vision of the Movement in their Administrative Unit.
The delegations from ten Provinces in America met together to share the development of the Movement in their respective Provinces: Canada, México Central, México Occidental, América Central, Norandina, Brasil Centro-Norte, Brasil Centro-Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Cruz del Sur and Santa María de los Andes.
The meeting, animated by Brothers Pedro Herreros and Antonio Ramalho, General Councillors, and supported by Brother Michael Flanigan, Secretary of the Laity Commission, proposed three simple objectives: for those in leadership positions in the different countries to get to know each other well, to reflect together on the identity of the Movement in America: Marist identity of laypeople, role of the brother, belonging to the Church, etc., and to contemplate the future of the Movement in the region, by trying to define which structures would facilitate its development, which role the Laity Commission would play, etc.
Brother Seán addressed a letter to the participants of the Meeting, thus showing the proximity of the members of the General Council with regard to the participants. In his letter, Brother Seán emphasised that the foundation of the Marist layperson is our baptism which is a universal call to holiness… and to proclaim the Kingdom of God.
In the same way, Brother César Rojas, Vice-Provincial of the Province of Norandina, in his greetings to the participants, wished them a very happy stay during these days of reflection, of dialogue and of deepening the values and the role of the lay Marist in the Church, as well as of the charism and of Marist spirituality.
He recalled that in sharing together, brothers and laypeople, we discover new signs of life that call us to deepen the specific identity of brother and of layperson, by sharing life, spirituality, mission and formation.
He affirmed: By their presence, lay Marists are renewed in our spiritual heritage and have engendered a new dynamism which pushes us to be witnesses of Champagnats values in the various environments where we live.
He invited all the participants to ensure that the meeting be transformed in an ardent expression of this beautiful dream of a great Marist family, united in one single heart, in the same spirit, that with the bread and wine we can celebrate the joy of meeting each other… in the love and fraternity that express the great DREAM OF CHAMPAGNAT that invites all to be protagonists and builders of the great Marist Family.
We dedicated a good deal of time for reflection on the great challenges that the Movement faces: its ecclesial identity, its link with the Congregation, the role of the liaison brother, the plans of formation, etc. We tried finally to perceive the ways for the future that require accompaniment for the laypeople who have chosen to live their baptismal vocation according to the spirituality that Saint Marcellin has left us.
Brother Laurentino Albalá, Provincial of Norandina, host of the Meeting, recalled in his closing words that the Marist fraternities number already several years and have developed in each Province according to their rhythm and with slightly different characteristics. He emphasised the importance of this first meeting as an opportune time to share the journey of the fraternities and the riches that they have developed. He noted that the Marist fraternities are authentic in their formation, their spirituality, their family life and their solidarity. As well, he recalled the invitation of the XX General Chapter to walk together, brothers and laypeople while emphasising that the Champagnat Movement of the Marist Family needs encouragement, enthusiasm and commitment from the laypeople because it is their movement. He concluded by affirming that it is necessary to invite others, to motivate them, to encourage them so that they commit themselves in this admirable adventure in which we live our Christianity in a Marist way

This first meeting finished with the convocation of the XI Meeting of the Marist Fraternities of Mexico at the Mexican Episcopal Conference Centre at Cuautitlán Izcalli, from the 21st to the 23rd October 2005, with the participants of the two Marist Mexican Provinces, and the VI Provincial Meeting of América Central, in Guatemala from the 28th to the 30th October, with the participants from Guatemala, Salvador, Costa Rica and Porto Rico.

The final document
The participants in the Meeting addressed the following letter to the Brother Superior General and to his Council, to the Brothers Provincial, to communities in America and to Fraternities of the Champagnat Movement of the Marist family in America.

To be faithful to the intuition of the Spirit, the Second Vatican Council gave the laity their place in the Church as participants in the mission of Jesus as priest, prophet and servant. As well, the three last General Chapters of the Congregation have launched very strong calls for us to walk together, brothers and laypeople, and to share our life: spirituality, mission and formation. (Cf, Choose life, 31 and 26)
To continue to respond to the calls of the Church and of the Congregation, the General Councils Laity Commission convoked, at the beginning of 2005, this first meeting of the Champagnat Movement of the Marist Family of America.
Responding to this convocation, by the grace of God and the generosity of the Provincial Councils of the continent, we met at Fusagasugá, a small city of Colombia situated 80 kilometres to the south of Bogotá. There were 26 laypeople and 16 brothers representing 193 Fraternities and about 3000 members of the Provinces of América Central, Brasil Centro-Norte, Brasil Centro-Sul, Canada, Cruz del Sur, México Central, México Occidental, Norandina, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa María de los Andes, all having come to realise the first American meeting of our movement. The brothers of the Laity Commission: Pedro Herreros and Antonio Ramalho, General Councillors, and Michael Flanigan, Secretary, accompanied us and co-ordinated our activities.
From the 2nd to the 5th November, brothers and laypeople, enriched by the diversity of languages and of cultures, shared in a fraternal way about the spirituality and charism of Marcellin. It is extraordinary to note that hundreds of men and women, from all of America, from Canada to Chile and to Argentina, are trying to walk in a resolute manner in the footsteps of Champagnat, a man whose heart knew no bounds and who has captivated us all.
During these four days of meeting we developed the following dynamic: after the individual presentation of the 45 participants, each Province presented the experience of its fraternities during the first two days. During the third day, we deepened the profile of the Champagnat Movement of the Marist family in a vision of the Church. The final day, after a plenary on the direction of the Movement, we worked on the identity of the layperson and the role of brothers in the fraternities.
Drawing on the conclusions of the meeting, we highlight the following aspects under the form of calls, to motivate reflection which needs to be done in each Province and in each fraternity faced with the growth of our Movement in America and in the world:

1. Our condition as lay Marists constitutes a response to an authentic call of the Spirit, to live our mission as baptised people, according to the charism and spirituality of Saint Marcellin Champagnat, a gift from God to the whole Church.
2. Taking into account that the Church is living today the time of the laity, in a respectful manner, we address ourselves to Provincials and brothers in general, to invite them to continue to encourage the creation of spaces for sharing with laypeople so as to realise more fully the mission that Saint Marcellin left us. (Cf, Choose life, 43.10)
3. In the same way, we invite the communities of brothers and the fraternities to continue to deepen the subjects of the identity of the lay Marist, as well as new types of relationships between brothers and laypeople in the light of current ecclesiology.
4. Before the progressive impoverishment of the majority of our American people, it is important that in the fraternities, we challenge ourselves on the possibility of responding by projects of solidarity which offer new hope for the lives of men and women of our continent.
5. Faced with the growth of the Movement in America, we have planned to increase the exchanges and reflection at the continental level between the Provincial Teams, by using the resources of the Internet and the Institutes web page. We suggest also to Provincials to form regional teams to accompany this reflection on the development of the Champagnat Movement of the Marist Family.

Finally, we thank the Brother Superior General and his Council for having thought of America to start these continental meetings, and the Brothers Provincial for the support that they have given, not only for being able to have this extraordinary experience of fraternity, but also for making possible our daily work in the fraternities.
May the God of Life and our Good Mother accompany us in our journey to accomplish the mission that we have received as baptised people in the charism and the spirituality of Champagnat!

The laypeople and the brothers of the Champagnat Movement of the Marist Family of America.


On the 20th November 2005, Mrs Mary Sammon died at the age of ninety-five. She was the mother of two Marist Brothers, Seán Sammon, Superior General of the Institute, and Henry Sammon of the Province of the United States of America, as well as of a daughter Mrs Moira Sammon Magro.
We wish to inform all our readers of this poignant loss and we wish to share our condolences with our brothers Seán and Henry, to whom we unite ourselves in prayer for the eternal repose of their dear mother.
The Brothers love for one another extends also to their families. This is shown by a warm welcome into our communities and by prayer, especially in times of happiness or of sorrow. Our religious consecration deepens and makes more sensitive our love for our parents. (C 56)

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