a Marianist experience of global vocation realities

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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.

 

how can an increase in births be promoted?….should it be?

There are friends, and then there are kindred spirits. Sometimes they show up in the most surprising ways. Maureen Weber is an editor for the Prairie Messenger. I first “met” Maureen back in the spring of 2011. I had hesitantly sent an email to the PM with a link to this catholic dialogue blog. I wasn’t sure what would come of it. What came was a quick reply with an offer to write my own catholic dialogue column for the paper.

Maureen encouraged me through the fear and trepidation of those early months, and continues to do so each time I send in an article. Through emails and phone calls, we quickly became friends. Just as quickly, we realized the many similarities in our lives. We are the same vintage, share many family and life experiences, and think and feel the same on church issues. When Maureen writes, her words resonate with my mind and heart….you said what? Me too!!!

In this week’s Prairie Messenger, Maureen writes a moving and honest reflection on her experience of motherhood. One of the survey questions for the upcoming Synod for the Family was“How can an increase in births be promoted?” For Maureen this is a perplexing question, and seems to be a throwback to days gone by.

Here is Maureen’s article.

Should parenthood be considered obligatory for all couples? Should women and men be pressured into having children, or having more than they can physically, emotionally, or financially support? What do you think?

leadership by bullying is an energy sucker

My latest column for the Prairie Messenger is titled Leadership can have a powerful hold over our spirits.

One of the strongest powers of leadership is the power that it can hold over our spirits. True servant leadership has the power to raise our spirits and energize us for our mission. Abusive, authoritative power crushes those same spirits and transforms our zeal into disillusion and doubt. Read more…..

Bullying is often at the root of dysfunctional leadership. We see it in the workplace, in classrooms, in homes and, sadly, in our churches. Besides making our lives miserable, these leaders bring immeasurable harm to those they are called to serve.

Leaders who speak to the heart hold the most effective power for growth and reform.

Pope smiles as he arrives to lead general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican