2nd Pan-African Congress of Catholic Laity

Pan-African Congress for the Laity Logo

The Pontifical Council for the Laity is organizing a second Pan-African Congress of Catholic Laity. It will be held in Yaoundé, Cameroon from 4 to 9 September 2012. The theme of the congress is “Being witnesses of Jesus Christ In Africa today”.

We are happy to announce that Mr. Ernest Kasongo, our Regional Responsible for Africa, will be joining about three hundred delegates from bishops’ conferences and associations and movements from all over Africa. It is a special honour and responsibility for our Marianist Lay Communities to be represented at this important meeting.

“The Church as God’s Family” is the ecclesial context in which the congress will take place. The co-responsibility of the lay faithful in building up communion will be an important point for discussion. This will include the subject of the new ecclesial movements and communities that are present on the continent.

We received news this week that Ernest will have an opportunity to present a brief report during a panel discussion on new ecclesial movements and communities. We encourage all our Marianist lay women and men in Africa to collaborate with Ernest, so we may give a truly representative voice from all our countries and experiences.

We were blessed to gather in Nairobi for our 5th International Meeting. We experienced the deep and joyous faith of our sisters and brothers in Africa, and their zeal for works of justice and peace. We know of their commitment to strong formation for lay women and men, so the gospel can be shared by all. And we have a deeper understanding of the many challenges that are present. The Pan-African Congress is an opportunity to gather with the Church, to listen and learn from past and present experiences, and to vision together for the role of lay women and men in the Church of Africa.

We encourage you to visit the web-site of the Pontifical Council for the Laity for more information, and join us in prayer for a blessed and fruitful congress.

Click here for a copy of the Announcement letter in English, Francais and Espanol.

MLC Annual Report

(Front row) Félix Arqueros Pérez, Susan Vogt, Isabella Moyer (Back row) Ernest Kasongo, Bro. Domingo Fuentes, Isabel Duarte Quapper

The report from our MLC International Team meeting in Rome is translated and ready for distribution. The report gives a brief account of our discussions. It also describes the strategies that we are using to accomplish the Challenges given to us in the Nairobi meeting. As you will see, the success of accomplishing these Challenges depends on an international, collaborative effort. I am confident that we will continue to move forward if we do so together.

We depend greatly on the generosity of lay Marianists who are willing to share their translation skills with us. Thank you, gracias, and mérci to Izaskun Arias and Mary Harvan Gorgette for providing the Spanish and French translations of the report.

The reports can be found online at www.clm-mlc.org.




Rome 2010 – Days 5 and 6

Good afternoon! Yes, it`s true….I`m not writing late at night. Yesterday was a full day of meetings with the World Council. In the evening, the MLC team (with the help of Bro. Michael) packaged all the Chaminade calendars for mailing to our communities around the world. It was a long day, and I needed to follow it with a good sleep….which I did! :-)

During our meetings, we shared the present plans for the Chaminade year. Many resources have been made available online, including these two videos from France and Spain:



We hope to promote all the initiatives online at www.marianist.org. An intentional effort is being made to use the web site of the World Marianist Family to post linksto the many good works and resources around the world. Brother Michael McAward shared the news of an upcoming update to the web-site. A new design and template will be available in the new year. The purpose of the site is to be a portal to the many sites around the world. We will be collecting content for new pages linking to all the formation centres and resources and social justice centers and projects. Each branch will be working with their regional, national , and local members to collect this content for Michael.

We had a good discussion on communications. Brother Charles-Henri, World Council secretary, is still working on updating and completing a directory for regional and national contacts in all the branches around the world. It is the responsibility of each branch to help him in this task. It is also our responsibility to ensure that the communications are forwarded to all.

Today, we returned to the objectives of 2010-2013 to evaluate the progress made at this meeting. At this moment, writing teams are producing a report of our meeting, and the Christmas Message from the World Council. We decided to have the writing teams by language. This year, one team is French and one Spanish….so I have a few hours off!! Here are Félix, Isabel and Maria José working on the Christmas message.

Rome day 6

A highlight of today was the celebration of Bro. Michael`s birthday. Michael is our travel organizer, taxi driver, visa getter, web-master, translator, pilgrimage and tour director, calendar designer, shipping and handling person…..etc, etc!!! We wish him continued blessings in his life. He is a real gift to our Marianist family! Here is a picture of Michael with a festive outfit from Togo, given to him for the occasion.

Rome day 6 b

Tomorrow we will meet as a team in the morning, and then enjoy the hospitality of our Sisters for pranzo. This will be followed by a trip into Rome. According to Domingo and Félix, we must take time to `sin a little`…..at least that`s how the Spanish was translated to me. ;-)


Rome 2010 – Day 4

Today we began our World Council of the Marianist Family meetings. We welcomed Agnes Senou from Togo. Agnes and Christiane Barbaux are members of the Alliance Mariale General Council. It was the first time two members attended the World Council meeting. There is much growth happening in the Alliance Mariale especially in the areas of communication and formation. Greater use of the internet has allowed more personal communications around the world. A booklet has been published to help new aspirants to the AM. Work is being done on a second booklet for those in formation. The reports from the Society of Mary, the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, and our MLCs high-lighted continued growth and new projects around the world. One of the most valuable aspects of our annual meeting is the chance to `catch up on news`. Often, connections are made around the table during our conversations. Mutual challenges are addressed, and possible collaborative opportunities are recognized. A more detailed report will be available at the end of the meeting.

Ernest, Charles-Henri, Marica, Isabella, Félix, Bina, Susan and Domingo

Ernest, Charles-Henri, Marica, Isabella, Félix, Bina, Susan and Domingo

A happy activity each year is to share `pranzo` (the always delicious and leisurely mid-day meal) with Marica Testa and Cherubina (Bina) Coppola, the national responsibles of Italy. Today we had the opportunity to toast Marica on her 81st birthday! The Fraternities in Italy are a model and inspiration to us all. They financially support the FMI work with street children in India, work with the poor in Albania, youth in Italy, and a re-forestation project in Ecuador. They produce stunning newsletters and magazines, and special booklets to commemorate their consecration ceremonies. They are also faithful supporters of the International Organization. I was presented with the Italian translation of my circular, and was humbled by the enthusiastic response that was given to it.

Meeting with the seminarians

Meeting with the seminarians

Another happy annual activity is our evening with the Marianist seminarians in Rome. The Brothers are a true international community, coming from India, Togo, Mexico, Spain, USA, Congo Kinshasa and Congo Brazzaville. We discussed the need to work together to help start and nurture new Marianist Lay Communities in all countries where there is a Marianist presence. The conversation was honest and very insightful for us. We learned how difficult it is to journey with a new MLC when the brothers move frequently. The support of all the brothers is important, as is strong formation for both religious and lay women and men. Also, it is difficult to journey with a lay community if a person has not had an experience of Marianist Lay Communities themselves. Domingo shared his desire to study the issue of forming strong assessors or spiritual counsellors among both the lay and the professed. There was a real energy in the conversation, and seeds of ideas were planted. Knowing that the brothers rise early for prayers and classes (and being tired ourselves!), we tried to end the meeting at a reasonable hour. But the conversations continued around the room for some time after the meeting ended. Always a good sign!

Rome 2010 – Day 3

We have completed the third day of our MLC team meetings. There were many items on the agenda, and we had to discern which to prioritize. The Challenges given to the team are many, but there is only so much that we can do! And, as we discussed at our meeting in Nairobi, the Challenges for this term are not to be completed by the team alone. Therefore, we are forming teams to address the three main issues. An International Youth Team will network and support existing Marianist youth initiatives around the world. An International Justice and Peace team will work to promote present Marianist social justice projects around the world. An International Formation Team will gather links to online formation resources, and other lay Marianist formation materials. Some of our countries do not have an internet presence, but have formation materials and manuals that can be shared with others. They just need a web-site to upload them. A member of the international team will work as a liason with each group, but the initiative will come from the group itself. Our hope is that greater involvement in our global work will promote a greater understanding of our international dimension.

We continued our discussion on finances. A clear set of guide-lines for team expenditures was drafted. A final copy will be attached with the annual report.

Tomorrow we will join our brothers and sisters of the FMI, SM and Alliance Mariale for the meetings of the World Council of the Marianist Family. It was another long day, and the jet lag doesn`t get any easier. The alarm clock is sounding more annoying each morning……so, good night for now!

Rome 2010 – Day 2

We began the day celebrating the feast of `Tutti i Santi`…All Saints! We depend on the prayers of all our communities, especially that great communion of holy women and men that have gone before us. We are truly strongest when we pray and work together.

Isabel, Susan and Domingo

Isabel, Susan and Domingo

Our meetings began with regional reports. Slowly but surely, we are collecting the basic data and contact information for our Marianist Lay Communities around the world. Thank you to all the national responsibles that sent their reports. We cannot do our work without you. Each regional responsible also shared the successes and challenges of the past year, as well as a summary of their regional tasks for 2011. Data is important, but the `heart` of our work is centered on working together with our national responsibles and, through them, with our MLC on the local level. It is encouraging to hear of all the good works that are being done by lay Marianists around the world. And, it is sobering to ponder the many needs that exist.

Ernest and Félix

Ernest and Félix

Our concerns included struggles in effective and timely communications with some countries. We are a world-wide community of communities, but this international dimension is not always understood by all. This is a challenge that we must address as a team. How can we improve our communications? How can we promote a sense of ownership, support, and responsibility for the work that is done on the international level? Finances are a constant worry. Presenting a clear and simple report of our incomes and expenses is vital. Isabel is re-working our existing template. The team accounts will be available in January for the December 31, 2010 year-end. It will include a list of countries that have paid dues, and the expenses of our international organization.

It was a long day, and the agenda will be full again tomorrow. But, the spirit of the team is good. A blessing, indeed! 

Rome Meetings– Day 1

Assisi 1

Ernest Kasongo, MLC, Fr. José Ramón Sebastián de Erice, SM, Sr. Susanna Kim, FMI, Bro. Domingo Fuentes, SM, Susan Vogt, MLC, Agathe Senou, AM, Félix Arqueros Pérez, MLC, Sr. Maria José Jaurégui, FMI, Isabel Duarte Quapper, MLC, Bro. Charles Henri Moulin, SM, Christiane Barbaux, AM, Isabella Moyer, MLC

We began our time together in Rome with a pilgrimage to Assisi. Contrary to the weather reports, we didn’t have the expected heavy rains – just unexpected heavy crowds! All Saints Day is a holiday in Italy, so the weekend drew many visitors. Despite some inconveniences, it was great to see so many families and tour groups coming to experience these holy places. It was especially good to see so many young people!

Grazie mille to Brother Michael McAward for organizing all the details of the day. He now has a permanent role on our team as official tour guide and pilgrimage leader. Shhhh…..don’t tell him we’re already making plans for next year. ;-) And thank you to Brother Domingo for planning our prayers, Fr. José Ramón for celebrating mass with us, and Brothers Charles-Henri and Michael for expertly chauffeuring us through unbelievable traffic jams and tight parking spaces.

Assisi 2

Bro. Michael McAward, SM (2nd from right)

Tomorrow we will begin the day with a mass for All Saints Day in the main chapel at Via Latina. Then we will begin our team meetings for the International Organization of Marianist Lay Communities. We pray that the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare will guide us in the week ahead. Inspired by their simplicity, humility, and prayer, may we share their passion for God, creation, and renewal in our Church.

Preparing for Rome Meetings

The leadership team of the International Organization of MLC is preparing for our annual meetings in Rome from October 31 to November 6. We will begin our time together with a one day retreat and pilgrimage to Assisi. Monday and Tuesday the MLC team will meet. The World Council meeting will be on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Saturday the MLC team will meet again to finalize the work for 2011.

The work of the MLC team is directed by the Challenges of the previous International Meeting. Last year, these Challenges were divided among the Three Offices of Education, Religious Life and Temporalities. Preliminary working plans were put in place for each Challenge. This year, we will be moving forward with each of these Challenges. Forming international working groups for each task is imperative for the success of our goals. We cannot do this work alone! The agenda and work of the World Council is directed by the three year Objectives that were approved last year.

Here are some other items on our MLC team agenda:

  • Regional Reports
  • Finalize a location for our 6th International Meeting of MLC (It will be a country in Latin America)
  • Choose a theme and writing team for the 6th International MLC Document
  • Present a Finance report of Incomes and Expenses from August 2009-December 2010 (The final report will be available at www.clm-mlc.org )
  • Collaborate with the World Council to develop an international web page for Formation Resources for all four branches of the Marianist Family
  • Collaborate with the World Council to develop an international web page to promote and support Social Justice projects of the Marianist Family
  • Reflect with the World Council on Common Mission

I hope to send updates on our meetings while in Rome. Please pray for us, that we may be open to the action of the Holy Spirit, like Mary was. May she guide us in an honest and true family spirit, working together in the tasks and challenges before us.

MLC Leadership


Equipo Animación CLM Europa

Each of our four MLC Regional Responsibles have the challenge of balancing the tasks of their region, the tasks of the International Team as a whole, and tasks of the World Council of the Marianist Family. And, all these tasks must be accomplished in volunteered time. Work, careers, and family responsibilities also require their energy and commitment.

Marianist leadership is meant to be a collaborative leadership. This is why Father Chaminade proposed the structure of the Three Offices, each working together for the greater whole. Collaborative leadership recognizes the need to share the responsibility of leadership. It recognizes the need to share the tasks, because the tasks are too many for one person. It recognizes the need for discernment based on the collaborative wisdom and prayer of community.

We, as lay Marianists, know this in our hearts. But, we are still learning how to do this in concrete actions. Our leaders are chosen and empowered by our communities. The same communities are also called to share in the responsibilities and tasks of leadership. When we do this, the blessings are great. We benefit from a diversity of gifts and talents, ensuring that many minds and hearts will help bring visions and mission statements to life. The burden of work is divided so that challenges are successfully fulfilled. And, we help form and empower each other into present and future leadership.

We have a wonderful international team. But, a team cannot function efficiently if all the work is done by its leadership. Our Marianist Lay Communities in Europe have given us a model of Marianist leadership. Our Regional Responsible for Europe, Félix Arqueros Pérez, has formed an Animation Team to work with him for the CLM in Europe. This team met in January and completed a Report describing the responsibilities and tasks of each member. This is a good example of collaborative leadership. We need many hands and hearts at all levels of our organizational structure -from international, to regional, to national, to local, and finally to each community.

I commend Félix and the Region of Europe for this initiative. I know that it will bear much fruit for both Europe and our International Organization. And I challenge each of us (myself included!), to see how we can better collaborate in our work for the Marianist family.

International Team – Vision and Objectives

The summary of our meeting in Rome is now available on our home page at www.clm-mlc.org. It’s available in English, Francais, and Español. Thank you to Mary Harvan Gorgette and Ana Blazquez Ubach for their translation help!

The focus of the next four years will be in the areas of Formation and Social Justice/Mission. Our goal, as a team, is not to produce a formation strategy for all to use, or to be founders of a world wide social justice project for our Marianist Lay Communities. We continue to learn of new formation initiatives and resources being produced around the world. We continue to be amazed and humbled by all the good works being done at the grass-roots level. Our goal is to improve the accessibility of formation materials so we may grow in quality as lay Marianists. And we want to promote and find support for our mission works, so these efforts may grow in quantity. This work is going to require collaboration across the miles with all the branches of the Marianist Family, in true family spirit.

Communications and networking are vital for our work. We’re working on a simple new design for our web-site. It will have a web page available for each country with Marianist Lay Communities. This page will include contact information for the National Responsible, names of cities and towns where MLCs are present, and links to newsletters and web-sites. If your country does not have a web-site, this page can provide a simple online presence for sharing news. We will also have new sections for Formation and Mission. The web-site will be very basic at first. We will need the support and help from National Responsibles and others to provide the content.

Isaiah the prophet

Isaiah the prophet

And, of course, money is needed to do our work. We encourage each country to pay their annual dues if they have not already done so. Iñaki Barrio has kindly agreed to continue helping us with our International Team finances. An annual finance report will be available in January or February, 2010.

In these Advent days, I’ve been rejoicing in the Isaiah readings of Advent anticipation and hope. There is a wonderful energy in our Marianist Lay Communities and in our Marianist Family. It is truly a time of being “strong in faith, firm in hope, and constant in love.” It is a time for visions and dreams, trusting that they can become a reality!