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Marists in World Missions: Our Stories

Marists challenged to "be Mary" with a more lively confidence

Marist Mission Refugee Center in London At the Marist-run Notre Dame de France Parish in London, a refugee center is managed by volunteers with a Marist priest offering pastoral care. Marists at this parish come from France, Ireland, and Spain. Nine lay people who live in rooms rented by the parish join the community for daily morning prayer, occasional meals and monthly reflections.

In Asia, two Marists from the Philippines district, a lay missioner and a seminarian have been on a spiritual and geographic journey with the people of Burma. For a year they found a home among the Kachin people northeast of Burma until government surveillance became oppressive and their visas were cancelled. Their journey has now brought them to minister with Burmese refugees in Thailand, alongside Redemptorists and Maryknollers in Ranong, where tens of thousands of Burmese migrant workers provide cheap labor but have little access to education or other services.

These are just two of the situations that illustrate
the collaboration Marists are undertaking –
between provinces and in concert with lay partners.

They are also representative of what former Marist Superior General Jan Hulshof has called the Society to do: engage in a spiritual and ministerial renewal leading to a deeper sense of global mission. Fr. Hulshof says in an extensive letter to the Society, With A More Lively Confidence, that "this growing sense of internal solidarity is an important asset for our congregation" that is showing results through the exchange of personnel and resources, development of international mission teams, and the experience of multicultural communities.

Marist MissionA prerequisite for renewed mission is renewed people, according to Fr. Hulshof. Recommitment to personal prayer and relationship to Mary along with greater emphasis on spiritual leadership and sharing prayer within and outside of Marist communities, and focusing on a life style which brings Marists closer to the poor are key to this change, he writes in his letter.

Fr. Paul Frechette says that getting closer to Mary is at the root of the community's spirit. "For our founder. Fr. Colin, Mary was a living presence and became a symbol of hope during the French revolution and its rejection of religion in civil society."

"We are asked to be the presence of Mary in the world – to think like her, feel like her, act like her wherever we are," says Fr. Frechette. "Marists are to be an instrument of mercy, to integrate the gentleness of Mary into our works and our communities."

Marists in Mission in LondonFor Marists, this is not an intellectual exercise or a personal devotional practice. "The relationship of Marists to Mary is a lived and implicit relationship," says Fr. Hulshof's letter. Fr. Frechette suggests looking at the scriptures that mention Mary. "She is rarely alone." Being like Mary means being in relationship to people. According to Fr. Frechette, this is what unites Marists worldwide. "Being a compassionate presence of Jesus and Mary – whether that is with Mexican immigrants in Brownsville, Texas, Haitian immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, Burmese refugees in Thailand, or college students trying to find their footing at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York – is what is means to be a Marist.

Fr. Hulshof's challenge to Marists throughout the world is to "be Mary" in a spirit of partnership, with a broader vision, and more porous borders. What he seeks, what Marists seek, is what every spiritual being seeks – to live a more vital life.

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"For our founder. Fr. Colin,
Mary was a living presence
and became a symbol of hope
during the French revolution
and its rejection of religion
in civil society."

Fr. Paul Frechette
member of the US Province

 

 

Marists in Mission...

...in Brazil

Brazil is the largest Catholic country in the world. Yet, the Church faces three major challenges: a shortage of priests, the departure of Catholics and a country of incredible poverty. The Marists number only about 18 priests, brothers and professed seminarians in Brazil.  Nevertheless, they are growing stronger as they continue to contribute to the strengthening of the Church and to serve those in need.

Read more about
Marists in Brazil>

...in Oceania

Two months from the day the first Marists were professed in Lyon, France, seven adventurous Marists set sail for Oceania. The date was December 24, 1836 and they represented one-fourth of the Society's members.

Read more about Adventurous Marists
in Oceania>

...in Friendship

Fr. Frank Springer's first memory of his seminary classmate and Marist missionary Fr. Nicholas Kutulas was meeting him on board a train in September 1946. As fellow WW II veterans, San Francisco natives, and young seminarians en route to Marist Seminary in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, the two young men had much in common.

Read more about
A Marist Friendship
in Mission>

 

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