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.

Mary’s Magnificat is our Magnificat



My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…
He has shown strength with his arm;
He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
And lifted up the lowly…..



The Magnificat is a favored and treasured prayer in our Marianist family. Mary’s words remind us of our call to the spiritual life. We take to heart Blessed Chaminade’s reminder that the essential is the interior. Therefore, we take the time to sit in God’s presence. To glory in God’s goodness to us. To rejoice and be glad, with souls that raise our thankfulness to the heavens.

But, we know that the goal and end of prayer is not for our own consolation. We pray to be filled with courage and strength to go forth in mission with Mary. And Mary shows us what that mission is. It is to speak and act with courage against all the injustices in our world. We are to shout mightily against poverty, violence, inequality, and war. We are to challenge authoritative leaders who seek only power and riches, not servant-hood.

We know, for Mary tells us, that our loving God will bring the mighty tumbling down, and lift the lowly. And it is our mission as Marianist women and men, to stand by Mary with hearts, minds, and hands ready. With her, we will pray. We will ponder. And we will act. We will reach out to each other for strength in our mission, as Mary and Elizabeth did. Together, we will work for the coming of God’s reign in our here and now.

Mary our model and guide…Pray for us!
St. Elizabeth…Pray for us!

A blessed and happy feast day to all,



Marianist lay woman works with Roma in Paris, France



entrance to the Roma camp; Cristian is wearing the baseball cap

Mary Harvan Gorgette is a Marianist lay woman living in Paris, France. She works as a  lay minister for social-justice and intercultural issues in a 5-parish area of the Diocese of Créteil. She coordinates a group that supports Roma families in the area.

Cristian spends most of his day on the road, in the southern suburbs of Paris, France. He rides his bike, stopping occasionally to pick up scrap metal and throw it in his makeshift trailer. Sometimes he loads up a larger appliance left curbside on trash day.

His trailer full, he pedals back to a small shantytown, located off an access road. In September 2010, five Romanian families built small homes around a central courtyard, using materials collected from trash bins. Cristian and Janina’s home has two rooms, a double bed for them and one for their three children. A concrete, wood-burning stove provides heat. A couple plastic chairs can be pulled out and covered with clean linens for visitors to the camp.

For cooking and washing, each family fills jerry cans from a roadside fire hydrant. Toilets are dug away from the camp. Janina and the other women cook on open fires in the courtyard.

A grassy field between the camp and the access road provides a workspace. There Cristian and other young men hammer the objects they have collected, separating the metal to be sold as scrap. The families survive this way because French law prohibits Romanian and Bulgarian citizens from working in any but a restricted number of fields, all requiring advanced degrees. It excludes the poorest Eastern Europeans from an otherwise open EU job market.

Many of the poorest belong to an ethnic group called Roma, long discriminated against in their home countries. There, they are excluded not only from the work force, but from schools, housing, and public services. This drives many to emigrate to the richer West. As Janina says, they live better off French trash: Romanians don’t throw much away.

Continue reading

News from Peru

A few days ago, I received an email from Brother Brian Halderman, SM in San Antonio, Texas introducing me to Alfonso J. de la Torre, a graduate of Santa Maria in Lima and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Alfonso, along with other graduates of Santa Maria, formed a Marianist Lay community called CAPA that is doing social outreach ministry to natives in the Peruvian Amazon. The region is presently experiencing severe flooding, causing a dire situation for the local people.

Here is a description of the project by Alfonso,

CAPA Perú was founded as a Marianist Lay Community four years ago by alumni from Colegio Santa María, the oldest Marianist school in Peru. CAPA was founded upon the experience that these alumni had a couple of years earlier when, as part of a Pastoral program, they traveled to Yanashi, a small town in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. Yanashi is the place that is now totally flooded.

CAPA has evolved through the years, not without struggle at times. We decided a few years ago to become a non-profit organization so that we could raise enough funds to make a real impact in the area. The transition was difficult, and we have committed ourselves to keep as identity the values of the Marianist charism: faith, hospitality, family spirit and adaptation to change. It was these last traits that, the openness and willingness to adapt to a changing environment, what has allowed CAPA to keep its communitarian and Marianist identity even if, on paper, it is a legal organization as well. One of the things that keep us honest to our Marianist heritage is that we have kept Fr. Eduardo Arens, S.M. as our adviser and mentor. We also try to collaborate with the other Marianists in Peru.

Our main project is the development of fish-farms in farming and native communities along the Orosa river, which flows into the Amazon river. These fish farms help people to improve their diet (they mainly grow vegetables in a very poor soil) and may one day help them to earn a living as they sell their surplus. We have also built a community well in one of the communities in order to improve their water supply.

Finally, as a personal testimony, I have to tell you that being part of CAPA has been a rewarding experience. I had the opportunity to grow up in a Marianist school and then attend St. Mary´s University, also a Marianist institution. Now that I am back in my country, I am happy to say that I remain involve with the Marianists and committed to what they taught me: to be Christ to others when they are in need. That Marianists have become an integral part of my life and my work in CAPA is a testimony to that.

You can get pictures of our work at http://www.capaperu.com . It is in Spanish, but the tab “Galería” (gallery) has a bunch of pictures for you to download. If you need more, please let me know.

Isabel Duarte Quapper, our CLM Responsible for Latin America, also contacted Miguel Agüero, our National Responsible for CLM Perú. This is Miguel’s response,

Buenas tardes Isabel, le agradecemos la preocupación por nuestros hermanos que estan sufriendo la indolencia de la naturaleza, es verdadque la Sierra de nuestro país y las quebradas (Chosica) lugar a una hora de Lima estan pasando momentos dificiles, perder casa y a veces familiares por un Huayco (una ola de barro y piedra) debe ser penoso y a la vez preocupante, esta reflexión se ha realizado en las comunidades y a la vez nos cuestiona la realidad y que tan rapido podemos actuar llevando la Buena Nueva en medio del sufrimiento; para esto dos CLM joven estan haciendo una colecta de ropa y viveres para donarle a nuestros amigos de la Sierra y de Chosica, esto esta en proceso y se hará llegara nuestros lugares de misión marianistas en las cuales se tiene continuidad y no sólo es un asistencialismo que lo puede hacer cualquiera, es un trabajo integral que nos lleva a sentirnos evangelizados por ellos LOS MÁS POBRES, el Señor nos habla desde estas realidades.

Ayer en cinco comunidades marianistas reunidadas en sus casas y la parroquia hemos dado gracias a Dios por tener hermanos solidarios y que asumen la tarea de liderarnos como movimiento (Isabel-Isabel) y darnos ejemplo de discipulado y misión, hemos orados por ustedes dos, saben que muchas de nuestros comunicación son conocidos por muchos en las comunidades, estamos conectados.

Nuestra ayuda se va a dar hasta junio y tenemos ayuda de gente, instituciones marianistas y si se puede de ustedes es con ropa de abrigo en especial de niños y mujeres (son los más animados en los pueblos de la Sierra en la misión), algunas medicinas, alimentos no perecibles, estas son de las cosas que más hacemos llegar en los pueblos y ellos siempren saben que son los marianistas que estan en medio de todo esto.

Being an international family means that we feel the struggles and pains of our sisters and brothers around the world. It also means that we can help each other make connections, so news can be shared, support given, and prayers united across the miles.

May our loving God bless our sisters and brothers in Perú, and may Mother Mary guide the compassionate hands and hearts who work for her mission.





Sharing the Marianist charism without computers


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!



International Marianist Communications

A priority for the International Organization of Marianist Lay Communities is to help network our communities and share existing news and resources. Many of our countries have wonderful web-sites and newsletters. To help share our communication efforts, the following updates have been made to our IO-MLC communications.


We have revised our web-site at www.clm-mlc.org. The web-site is published in all three official languages: Spanish, English and French. The goal of our web-site is to provide quick and easy access to our documents, resources, and our Marianist Lay Communities around the world. The new Regional pages list all our countries with the names of the National Responsibles, statistics, and links to national web-sites. These national web-sites include access to newsletters, local projects and gatherings, prayer and formation resources. We encourage you to visit these web-sites to learn more about our Marianist Lay Communities around the world.


We are continuing this blog at http://clm-mlc.org/blog/. The purpose of the blog is to share current news and reflections on Marianist life. It is usually written in English, but we have included an instant translator on the right-hand side of the page.


Our Facebook page is slowly gaining more friends. Please visit us, LIKE us, and share comments, news, links to newsletters and upcoming MLC events on our wall. All languages are welcome. The more we know about each other, the stronger our community of communities will be. You can also join us on our TWITTER account at clm_mlc.

If you have any questions or suggestions for improving our communications, please contact isabellamoyer@clm-mlc.org or any member of our International Team. We look forward to hearing from you!


March 25th- The Annunciation and World Day of Prayer for Marianist Vocations




Dear brothers and sisters,

The World Council of the Marianist Family, meeting in Rome in November of 2011, decided to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for Marianist Vocations on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. Here is what the World Council said in its document about this

“We desire to continue emphasizing its importance and we wish to give it a more specific character. For this purpose, we are establishing March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, as the World Day of the Marianist Vocation. If we have chosen this date it is because on that day that we celebrate the vocation of Mary and her “yes,” just as we celebrate the “yes” of the Word to God’s plan of salvation. The Marianist vocation in all its forms is best understood in the light of the Annunciation, which is fundamental for the understanding and integration of our charism into our lives. This new World Marianist Day will be the occasion for prayer in common with the Family.

So let us not miss this event with the Family. Each of our branches needs the support of the fervent prayer of each one of us in order to grow, to be renewed and to develop. On the 25th of March let our prayer rise unanimously from the four corners of the world. Let us listen to how the Word of life resounded in the heart of Mary when, at the “yes” of his Mother, he responded within her: “Behold, here I am.” Let a new missionary drive renew our personal and communitarian Marianist vocation. We are offering a document as a guide to meditation, to reflection, to personal or collective prayer.

Together, with Mary, let us celebrate, pray and listen to what the Spirit is saying to us.


Christiane Barbaux (Director of the Alliance Mariale)

For the World Council of the Marianist Family

World Day of Prayer for the Marianist Vocation 2012

Día mundial de oración por la vocacion marianista 2012

Journée mondiale de prière pour le vocation marianiste 2012

Informativo Família Marianista Brasil

María de Lourdes Perezim de Mattos, (Malu), has sent the latest edition of Informative Família Marianista Brasil. The newsletter of the CLM in Brasil is filled with beautiful color and photos reflecting the joy of our Marianist Lay Communities in Brasil.

Malu has happily announced that the CLM Brasil will be celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2012. The actual anniversary was last year, but the communities wished to focus on the Chaminade Year. We unite with our sisters and brothers in Brasil in joyful gratitude for the past 25 years, and join them in prayer for continued growth in the years to come. We look forward to receiving news of the celebrations in the coming months.

“Que a graça de Deus, cresça em nós sem cessar.”

(May the grace of God grow in us without ceasing.)

40 Days with the 40 Least – 2012

Once again, the Marianist Family in Spain is inviting us to enter into Lent with the 40 least countries of the world. The following is from the introduction to the 2012 campaign,

This year we wish to focus our gaze, our heart and our mind on the reality of the human rights of the people who live in the last forty, the forty countries with the lowest Index of Human Development, according to the 2011 Annual Report of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). We will do this in union with the social pain of those who are victims of the violation of their rights, and also with the witness of those who, in the midst of that situation, embrace the responsibility of denunciation, promotion and defense of those rights…

In identifying the current situation of human rights, contemporary reflection tends to highlight three concerns: the degradation of life, the loss of liberty, the lack of justice. Around these three universal principles – life, liberty, justice – in situations where they are lacking and in the forces that defend them, revolves our Lenten campaign this year…

As in other years, for each day of Lent we are offering a passage of testimony and, following it, a juridical text Signed and ratified, taken from the very rich universal legislative sources, which we will see. To help us pass from right to deed, there is a commentary and a proposal for action. Finally, a short Prayer will help us place into the hands of God both our plans and the situation of which we are witnesses. We hope that for another year this recourse to the situation of human rights in the last forty might help us to live this Lent in solidarity and compassion, as we walk with our Savior on his ascent to Jerusalem.

The 40 Least campaign is sponsored by the Society of Mary Province of Spain, and is a collaborative Marianist family effort. We thank them for their continued commitment to this project. It is a valuable and inspiring Lenten resource for us all. May we join our minds, hearts, and hands across the miles as we take this journey in union with all our sisters and brothers around the world.

Here are the links to the 40 Days with the 40 Least Project in English, Español, and Français. Click on the Calendar on the home page for each day’s resources.

Acción Marianista

On January 22, 2012, Acción Marianista celebrated its second anniversary. The NGO is a project of the Marianist Family in Spain. Having worked on education projects and international cooperation for development for several years, they accumulated a rich and varied experience in this area; from religious foundations to projects promoted by lay members of the Marianist Family.

While each of these experiences has its own origin and history, all have seen the need for coordination to improve awareness, commitment and training people of the Marianist Family in the North, and the implementation of projects in the South and the need for an exchange of ideas and people.

Acción Marianista para el Desarrollo (Marianist Action Foundation for Development) was founded to collect all these rich and varied experiences.

We place education and development as pillars of our action, considering education broadly understood not only as the acquisition of knowledge and promotion capabilities, but as the promotion of human values ​​of dignity, confidence and social engagement.

Acción Marianista is truly a family project, co-sponsored by Religious Marianists and Marianist Lay Communities. To find out more, visit their web site at http://accionmarianista.org/ and their Facebook page.

The latest Bulletin highlights two of the projects supported by the NGO: Balay Pasilungan for street children in Davao City, Philippines, and the Jesus of Nazareth Library in Medallin, Columbia.

We are united in a prayer of thanksgiving for all the good work that Acción Marianista has already accomplished, and pray that our sisters and brothers will continue to be blessed in the years ahead. And, in their words, Acción Marianista invites us all….Marianists….to Action!

Acción Marianis-ta te invita a la “acción” “marianista”. Anímate!