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Enlarged Bureau of Laity

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The first meeting of the newly enlarged Bureau of the Laity took place in the General House from 21-27 January. All the members were present: Ana Sarrate (Ibérica - Spain), Linda Corbeil (Canada), Tony Clarke (Sydney – Australia) Bro. Afonso Walls (Brasil Centro Norte) and Bro. Pau Fornells (Director of the Bureau).

The work was mainly centred around three topics: the identity, organization and operation concerning the enlarged Bureau, its action Plan 2008-2010 - approved in principle by the General Council - and the preparation for the two international experiences of combined formation and charismatic vitality, soon to be developed in collaboration with the Commission of Religious Life.

In the action Plan – which can be found in detail here - the following sections are highlighted:

Formation:
• To lead a collective process in the whole Institute that develops common approaches, fundamental elements and clear terminology for the specific formation of lay people and the combined formation of lay people and Brothers, and offer it to all the administrative units.
Actions: to encourage international, regional and provincial experiences of combined and specific formation; to develop a Manual or Formation Guide for lay people and combined formation.

• To offer specific formation for the Brothers on topics such as: Church-Communion and life shared with the lay people, with regard to charism, spirituality, mission, formation...
Actions: Encouragement for this formation, offering a bank of resources (animators, workshops, retreats, materials, etc.).

• To promote the spiritual and personal accompaniment of lay people and Brothers.
Actions: Motivation for the whole Institute, information on what is already taking place in some provinces, the offer of courses for accompaniers, etc.

Vocational promotion
• To promote the development of a Plan for vocational pastoral that contemplates the Marist vocation of the Brother, lay person, priest…
Actions: To follow up the diverse types of experiences that are already taking place in some provinces, to reflect jointly with the Bureau of Vocations to study the implications that this can have, etc.

Communication and networks
• To promote greater reflection, animation and coordination with the Marist Laity at provincial, regional and international level.
Actions: Creation of an exchange network (information, reflection, sharing materials, experiences, etc.) among people who are enthusiastic and committed to the topic.

New forms of ownership
• To promote greater reflection about ways of joining together and taking ownership of the Marist charism and the Institute which exist at the moment, and the possibility of creating other new ones.
Actions: To get to know the existing structures inside the Champagnat Movement and other Marist groups or movements, to reflect on new structures that promote a greater co-responsibility among Brothers and lay people, at the level of province, region and of the whole Institute.

Evangelical use of goods
• To promote greater reflection on the evangelical use of goods in favour of the charism and shared mission, to be able to respond better to the new situation involving the relationship between lay Marists and the Institute of the Marist Brothers.
Actions: To work together with the Commission of Evangelical Use of goods.

Although the work was very intense, the members of the Commission were also given time for their fraternal life and the need to take a breather, visiting some beautiful towns surrounding Rome: Grottaferrata, Frascati, Castegandolfo, Ariccia, Sermoneta and the Abbey of Casamari.

The evaluation of the meeting was very positive, highlighting the experience of family spirit, the work done, a very strong consciousness of the presence of the Spirit today in the Institute which pushes us towards novelty in creative fidelity and towards the need to pass on that fire of Champagnat that beats in many hearts of lay people and Brothers throughout the entire world. Brother Seán closed this first meeting remembering the Marist martyrs who have just been beatified and inviting us to be testimonies, as they were, of value, audacity and trust.

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