a Marianist experience of global vocation realities


This is a photo of the World Council of the Marianist Family (WCMF) taken at last November’s meeting in Rome. The members represent the leadership teams from the four different vocations in the Marianist Family: Marianist Lay Communities (MLC), the Society of Mary (priest and religious brothers), the Daughters of Mary Immaculate (religious sisters) and the Alliance Mariale (a secular order of consecrated women).

In my two terms on the MLC leadership team, I attended nine WCMF meetings. We gather as equals around the table sharing the current blessings and challenges of each of our branches around the world. In these conversations, I learned much about the global reality of the church, and the global reality of religious vocations. I wrote about this in my latest Prairie Messenger article, for a special issue on Vocations…

In my Marianist work and travels I have made many friends with sisters, brothers and priests of all ages and from all corners of the world. The ones who stand out are those who are, indeed, attractive witnesses. They dare to live differently in the world but not as strange otherworldly creatures that stand above or apart from others. Hierarchical mindsets and self-appointed exclusivity may be attractive to some, but not for most Catholics today.

The attractive witnesses, for me, are the religious women and men who embrace the joys and trials of community life for it keeps them grounded in their humanity. Collaboration with the laity is assumed and comes naturally, because the only way to be church is to be church together. They do not seek special status or privilege for they know that holiness and wisdom are not automatically conferred with vows or sacramental oils. Their holiness comes from their wholeness. Read more…..

On the first Friday of each month, the Marianist Family is called to pray the Magnificat for a specific social justice issue or project. This month we are united in prayerful support with the newest project of our Marianist Sisters in India. To fully appreciate the magnitude of this project, you have to realize that the Sisters are small in number (with only a handful of members in India), but truly audacious in faith!

Singhpur, is located in a poor rural area of northern India near Ranchi. The Marianist sisters there were aware of rising rates of infant and maternal mortality in childbirth, diseases and infections that could be easily treated if there was a local medical clinic. Through the support of Accion Marianista, the Marianist Sisters, and the Italian bishop’s conference, such a clinic became a reality.

The clinic serves 28 villages and 900 students of the Chaminade School sponsored by the Marianist brothers. Currently a doctor, nurse, laboratory technician, and two nuns work in the clinic. On the day the clinic opened, November 25, 2013, it served more than 90 people. Adult patients are asked to pay a nominal fee and students of Chaminade School receive free medical service. (From the Friday Magnificat, May 2, 2014)

Here is a video put together by Accion Marianista, a Marianist sponsored NGO and supporter of the project.


benedictine sisters – women of vision, daughters of faith

Here is my latest catholic dialogue column for the Prairie Messenger, Benedictine Sisters: women of vision, daughters of faith. This column, a tribute to some very dear friends, was a joy and privilege to write.

Also, check out a wonderful essay on Good Pope John from the PM’s archives, written by Rev. Andrew Britz, OSB. I so need to hear more about the good women and men who embodied the optimistic spirit of Vatican II. And this good pope surely did.

Who are your Vatican II heroes?

LCWR coverage in the Prairie Messenger

The latest catholic dialogue column in the Prairie Messenger is titled Difficult conversations have a greater need for dialogue.  It builds on a previous blog reflection on Sr. Pat Farrell’s strategy for dialogue as described in her presidential address to the LCWR Assembly in August.

I’m proud of the Prairie Messenger for its coverage of the ongoing story surrounding the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. One might wonder why a news journal from the Canadian prairies is so interested in what happens to an American organization of religious women. The Catholic Church extends far beyond our local parish walls, and the PM tries to give a fair and balanced coverage of local, national, and international church stories. The more we learn about each other, the more we can rejoice in shared gifts and support each other in our struggles.

The present situation between the bishops and the women of the LCWR is a microcosm of the bigger issues facing our church today. What are the roles of women and men in our church, whether vowed religious, ordained or lay? How do we address the tension that exists between an authoritarian,  hierarchical style of leadership and deep seated beliefs in participatory leadership, equality and freedom of conscience? How do we begin to build the bridges across the ideological chasms that continue to divide liberals and conservatives, progressives and traditionalists?

I believe we have much to learn as we watch the drama unfold to the south of us. Dialogue is key. We can only pray that true, respectful dialogue will be possible.

Check out the August 29, 2012 issue of the Prairie Messenger for more LCWR commentaries and reports.