Formation Course for Lay Marists
A course for Lay Marists from throughout the world was conducted in Rome from 18th May till 2nd June. The purpose was to see how these Lay Marists could contribute to the formation of other Lay Marists.
The participant from our Province was Mrs. Conny Stuart from the Netherlands. Here, she describes her experience of the event:
It was at the invitation of Brother Brendan Geary (Provincial) that I was able to attend the formation course for Lay Marists. It was an exceptional experience. I was a bit nervous about going there; a course with 55 other Lay Marists from around the world – who am I to belong to such a group? Why me? I had read the profiles of the other participants: for the most part they were people who for years have had responsibility in their schools for the formation of Lay Marists or for conducting a variety of programmes for co-workers in the Marist schools. Fortunately it became clear on the first day that many participants arrived in Rome with the same questions, a great leveller.
In one of the workshops we were tasked with coming up with a title of a book dealing with the 55 participants as a group and the intensive exchanges and togetherness during the two weeks. I chose the title, Fading differences. I had established that there were certainly differences, not only in terms of language and culture, but specifically in the way Marist presence in each of the countries is found and the relationship that exists between the Brothers and the Lay Marists. But within a few days it was clear that the differences were far outweighed by the similarities. With this group, as with every other group of Marists that I have met, it was the same experience: I felt immediately “at home”.
The programme was stimulating and well thought through. The themes were those which exercise the minds of the Brothers themselves at this time, such as Vocation, Mystics and Prophets in Communion, Mission and Joint Formation, but also issues of administration such as the organisational structure of the Brothers and the relationship between Brothers and Lay Marists were deeply delved into.
When I returned home I was asked by someone, “Do you now feel yourself a Marist?” I had to think about that for a moment because my immediate reaction was to say, “That is actually not possible.” But in spite of that I answered truthfully, “Yes, I feel myself a Marist.” And I feel myself to be a part of a greater whole. Now, when I look at a map of the world I see all over it points where those whom I have just got to know, live. We share with one another that we are people who wish to live according to a shared tradition and have a common vocation and this gives me a great sense of belonging. The “back-pack” with which I have returned home from Rome, is full of inspiration, ideas, acquaintances, courage and togetherness. I am extremely grateful to have been able to participate in this course.