I received an interesting letter yesterday. Interesting, because it was an actual letter. Almost all of my correspondence is done with the computer. I spend several hours a day at my desk writing, reading newsletters, browsing web-sites, and responding to emails. I am used to the efficiency of instant communications. It is a joy to send an email across the world and receive a response within minutes. I am still amazed at technology like Skype, which allows me to see faces and hear voices across the ocean. And, I appreciate the ease of sharing resources and materials by a simple online link.
The writer of this letter is from Victoria, British Columbia on the west coast of Canada. Retired Archbishop Raymond Roussin, SM was the bishop of Victoria before becoming archbishop of Vancouver. Presently there is no Marianist presence on Vancouver Island. My letter friend read a column that I wrote for the Prairie Messenger called An example of community: the Marianist tradition. This is what they said in the letter,
(Marianist Lay Communities) sounded like one of the best-kept secrets indeed of the Universal Church! As I do not have access to a computer, I’m writing you seeking printed information on MLC – from the perspective of a prospective lay member…I wish MLC would perhaps take out display ads in various pertinent periodicals on this continent so that more and more may learn of your charism and seek regional involvement. There’s no use in hiding your light(s) under a bushel nowadays!
This letter gives us several challenges.
- Have we become too dependent on computers?
- How do we reach out to those who do not have or use computers?
- How do we respond to persons who are interested in our charism, but live in a geographical area where there is no Marianist presence? Do we have the resources and energy to do so?
- Are we keeping our light under the bushel basket? If so, what is keeping us from placing it high on a stand for all to see?
Thankfully, we have some wonderful persons and resources in place to help us with some of these challenges. In North America, Pati Krasensky is the Assistant Director of the North American Center for Marianist Studies (NACMS) and the Director of the Marianist Lay Formation Initiative (MaLFI). She specializes in supporting new and emerging Marianist Lay Communities, and providing them with resources. The MaLFI program is a year-long program of formation for Marianist lay women and men, that prepares them to form new communities or nurture existing ones. Pati happily agreed to send a packet of Marianist materials to our letter-writing friend. I am very thankful for her expertise and generous response. It is a good first step.
We are called to spread our charism like a “contagion”. This is happening on the international level, usually with no initiative from our leadership teams or regional councils. It is coming from the grass-roots. We presently have emerging MLCs in Indonesia and Cameroon, thanks to the passion and commitment of one young Marianist lay man in each country. With our limited resources, it is a challenge for our leadership team to provide the necessary formation materials and support for these new foundations. Yet, the charism continues to spread. It is a challenge to keep up with the contagion!
In your region or country, what strategies do you have to help new Marianist Lay Communities? If a person comes to you asking to be a Marianist, but they live in an area with no communities, how do you respond?
We would love to hear from you….and learn from you!