Marist Laity Newsletter
News from the Atlanta Province Laity Service
Ah, Spring! That refreshing time of the year when buds begin to peek out and
the sound of lawn mowers wrestles the songs of the returning birds preparing their
nests for their young. We need only look out the window during this special
season, and the prayers of thanksgiving to God automatically form on our lips.
We encounter this newness of life and so many fresh beginnings during this time
in the Church as well. Easter was early this year, but other seasonal celebrations
keep us on track. My oldest grandson received the sacrament of the Eucharist
for the first time last month. He seemed so happy, but you never know with 8
year old boys. He was rather bored at his party, but he seemed to cling to only
one of his presents: a statue of Jesus with a little boy at his feet. Later, when the
party crowd left, he begged his mom to take him to morning Mass the next day
and every day that week! He just couldn’t get
enough of Jesus in the Eucharist!
As I reflected on my grandson’s attitude, I
wondered how many times we just can’t get
enough of Jesus. He’s always with us, ready to
welcome us to life with him. Use the sights, colors,
sounds and celebrations of spring to remind us that
our Lord is always with us. Sometimes he just uses an
8 year old boy to remind us of that.
Service Committee Finds New Home
The Marist Laity Service Committee said a sad goodbye to the Marist House on
Jackson Avenue in New Orleans recently. Father Ed Keel, Marist Council advisor,
recently moved to St. Vincent Parish in Wheeling, West Virginia to be closer to his
ailing parents, so we had to find a new home for our meetings.
We found an excellent home at the Marist Provincial House in Washington, D.C.
where plenty of new Marist friends awaited our arrival and welcomed us with
We conveniently met with Father Ted Keating, Atlanta Province Provincial, and
with Father Bruce Lery, formation director.
Other Marists we met along the way included:
Father Paul Frechette, Father Phil Gage,
Brother Randy Hoover, Brother John O’Brien,
Father Howard Smith, and Mr. Derek Coehlo.
The Sisters who cook at the houses presented
us with a scrumptious spread as we all arrived
on the first evening of our weekend. We also
welcomed Barbara Smith from the Boston
Province to our Marist Laity Service Committee. Barbara is shown in the picture
flanked by New Orleans members Martha Nosaka and Joyce Albert.
Friday: On Friday evening the committee met with Very Reverend Ted Keating, Provincial of
the Atlanta Province. Father Ted presented us with a vision of the restructuring of the Province
and the possible merger with the Boston Province. The steering committee believes that the
province will stay scattered and continue to be seeds in different places—a missionary endeavor.
Father Keating also spoke of the need for a closer relationship between the religious and the laity
and that a concrete plan for how to embed the religious with the laity is needed.
Saturday and Sunday
The Committee gathered for prayer and the opening of a very full agenda. Father Edwin Keel
spoke briefly about the theme of communion and that the Marist mission is about developing
communion in the Church.
The Committee spent a considerable amount of time discussing Father Keating’s Friday evening
address, especially the phrase about “embedding” the clergy with the laity. The laity are eager to
work with the religious in their work, and to spread the Marist spirit in the work that they do in
their own lives. The topic of creating common formation experiences for clergy and laity
together also generated considerable discussion. Father Bruce Lery, Director for Initial and
Ongoing Formation for the Atlanta Province, was invited to continue the discussion on this
subject. Father Bruce encouraged the members of the Marist laity to begin visiting groups and
sharing the Marist charisms they possess.
Two members of the committee will be attending the Marist Laity Australia Conference on April
18-20. Sheila Barrett and Christine Columban will represent U.S. Marist laity at the conference
in Sydney. Samples of the Committee’s formation materials have already been shipped ahead to
the Conference. Christine will try to establish communications with French speaking attendees at
the Conference and collect mail addresses and other information to bring back and share with lay
leaders in the U.S.
Sheila Barrett reported that Millie Lopez, a member of South Florida Marist Laity, is organizing a
gathering for families. She plans to hold the event May 22-24, 2009, at the San Pedro Center,
Winter Park, Florida. Her plan is that the event focus on families and she hope to have other
Marists there to provide simple, child centered witness.
Bob Spruce presented a proposal to offer phone/internet conferencing to share meeting materials
with interested persons who are not near other Marists. Telephone conferencing will be tried
first, and content will be planned ahead of time. Bob will proceed with a pilot project.
The committee has several ongoing projects that have received positive results. Bob is keeping
the database updated and will make the annual request of groups to update the database
information in June. He hopes that
everyone will respond in a timely
Diane continues to produce the
Newsletter. Even though this is an
“email” newsletter, we continue to
mail out a few newsletters to those
who cannot receive email. We
would like to hear from your group
so that you can be featured in the
Christine has done a marvelous job
with our laity website. You can
check it out at www.maristlaity.org.
There are several new items in the
newsletter, and you can discover
some information about groups in your area or references you may need for your group.
Your Atlanta Province Marist Laity Service Committee is here to serve you? What can we do to
help you or your group? Contact Diane @firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Mandeville, Louisiana: Elsie Kloppenberg, an “80-something” year old Marist has
started a new group! Elsie and the six members of her group, (all in their 80’s and 90’s)
hold their meetings every Saturday evening after Mass. They pray for the unborn and are
trying to get the names of some expectant parents to let them know that they are praying
for their child. They are also doing a lot of evangelizing in their home where they live
together. If you would like to correspond with Elsie, her address is: Elise Kloppenberg,
1770 North Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, LA 78471
New Orleans, Lousiana: Martha Becnel, a member of Holy Name of Mary Church in
New Orleans shares news from her group on Eliza St. Their meetings are held on the first
Sunday of the Month from 9:30 am until 10:45 am, then they attend the 11 am Mass together.
This group has 20 members-10 are active and 10 are in nursing homes. The members of
this group are active in the parish. They act as lectors, extra ordinary ministers of Holy
Communion, CCD Teachers, RCIA Instructor, Coordinator of Religious Education, Church
choir, Parish Fair assistants, and parish archivists. You may contact this group through:
Martha Becnel, 342 Elmira Ave., New Orleans, LA 70114.
Yaounde, Africa (This information if from Paul, as told to Father Ed
You asked for information concerning the Marist lay group in Yaounde.
It was created over six years ago in the Obili parish; next month we will be celebrating our
7th anniversary (I joined only in June last year, even though knewthe Marists before then).
We are between 12 and 15 of us; three of us are men, and the rest are women. I don't know
the ages of all the members, but the age range is roughly from 21 to early 30s. Two
members are married women with children. WE meet twice a month. We begin with vespers,
and we alternate between meditating bible texts (with either the Ignatian or the monastic
method of meditation) and texts on Marist spirituality. We also have recollections once
every 3 months and a retreat once a year, usually in the month of August. Also worth
noting is all the members are francphone; I am the only anglophone member - you know
Cameroon is bilingual. As concerns apostolic work, we are first of all called upon to
participate actively in all parish activities, for Mary supported the church at the beginning,
and has to continue doing so today through us. We also visit the needy. During ths lenten
season, we have organized a collection among ourselves, and sometime after EAster we
will visit needy people around us; we did the same thing just before Christmas, and then we
visited an orphanage. That, grosso mondo, is a review of who we are and what we do. Don't
hesitate to ask for any more information you need.
Accept greetings from the Marist community in Yaounde, and Happy EAster.
This and That
One of our Lay Marists, Evelyne Talbot, who joined in the Houston area along with Bob Spruce,
is currently living in the country of Qatar which is on the Arabian peninsula (her husband works
for an oil company and is working on a project there). This is a very Muslim country, but
somewhat liberal compared to other Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia. They have just built a
Catholic Church there, largely to accommodate the many Philipino and other imported laborers.
Evelyne is originally from England where she met the Marists who were campus ministers at the
University of Exeter where she studied. I am sure she feels somewhat lonely there, so distant
from the places she calls home. Why not drop her an e-mail. Her address is
Notes From Australia
Sheila Barrett sent a short email about the conference in Australia: “The Marist Laity
conference was wonderful and well attended...nearly 100 participants including all 4
Marist branches represented and lay Marists from New Zealand, Australia, and many of
the islands of the Pacific. Great variety of talks and I will share all that I can when I get my
act together. Maria Baden and her Team were so well prepared for this weekend ..a
great spirit of joy overflowing even after so much planning behind the scenes.”
Father Jim Reynolds, pastor of a church in Thayer, Missouri, and a supportive friend to the
Marist Laity group there, is dying of cancer. Please keep him in your prayers.
Marist laity mourn the loss of Miss Rachel Bailey, a lay Marist for more than 50 years, who died
January 17, 2008. She was buried from St. Anthony's Church, Atlanta, Georgia, where she had
led Our Lady of Perpetual Help Marist Laity for many years. During the funeral service, members
of the group formed an honor guard for Rachel along the aisles of St. Anthony's Church, and the
Marist Laity Service Committee sent the group a letter of condolence. Please join in prayer for
Rachel. We thank Dorothy Todd for informing us of Rachel's death.
We ask our Blessed Mother to look kindly on the Marists of the world.
West Virginia Marists
Two West Virginia Marists, Diane and Ed Poach, who are also members of the Marist
Laity Service Committee were honored to host Father Rafaele Qalovi S.M., assistant to
the Superior General of
the Marists who is
stationed in Rome.
Father Rafaele is visiting
the Marist parishes in
West Virginia, and he
spent a delightful evening
at the Poach house
discussing Marists here
and in his country of Figi.
He is shown here with
Diane, Ed, Father Ron
Nikodem, S.M. and
Brother Roy Madigan,
The following letter is written by Father Ed Keel, S.M., director of
Marist Laity, and can be copied and used as a study guide for your
April 16, 2008
Dear Fellow Marists,
Was it just that I was paying attention more? Or is it that my faith has grown and
deepened? I can’t say. But this year as I concelebrated the Easter Vigil, I was struck by
the power of the liturgical rites.
As most of you know by now, aside from my work with Marist Laity, I am also serving as
associate pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Wheeling, West Virginia, a parish the
Marists have been serving since 1904! For me it is a return to parish ministry after a hiatus
of 31 years! And while I have attended or even assisted at the Easter Vigil service many
times during the intervening years, the liturgy never left such an impression on me.
It was after all those readings about the creation of the world, the sacrifice of Isaac, the
crossing of the Red Sea—all of them potent images the church invokes in trying to give us
some glimpse and some grasp of the ungraspable mystery of Jesus’ resurrection—after
these readings and during the blessing of the water and the baptismal rite (we had one
adult, Joni, being baptized, and four others being received into the church and
confirmed) that it came to me: how mighty the work of God in recreating us and
renewing the face of our earth, and how robust a faith this calls for on our part!
Do we really believe that the waters of Baptism make a “new beginning of goodness” in
our violent and torn world? Do we really hold that we in our own baptism, and the
neophytes being baptized now “rise to a new birth of innocence by water and the Holy
Spirit”? Do we really imagine that we were buried with Christ and now “rise with him to
newness of life”? Do we really want for them and for ourselves what we pray for over
those about to be baptized: “light and strength to follow Christ with resolute heart”?
Since one of my assignments in the parish is to work with the program for the Rite of
Christian Initiation of Adults, I have been reading a book by the late Benedictine Monk
and liturgical expert Aidan Kavanagh, entitled The Shape of Baptism: The Rite of Christian
Initiation. In Kavanagh’s mind, the rites of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist,
especially as celebrated with adults at the Easter Vigil) give the Church its identity and
sense of purpose and mission:
“The paschal mystery of Jesus Christ dying and rising still among his faithful ones at Easter
in baptism is what gives the Church its radical cohesion and mission, putting it at the
center of a world made new” (pp. 162f).
“Christians individually and corporately need access to a radical experience and sense
of rightness; of standing at an axial spot from which everything radiates out and to which
everything falls home; of dwelling splendidly at the center of things. This experience and
sense form the basic orientation that must undergird the whole of ecclesial life” (pp.
“The Church which baptizes is not a garden club that putters around with good
intentions: it is a threshing floor on which God works his tough but gracious will in the
world after the pattern manifested in the life, death and resurrection of his only Son.
Under grace and in the Spirit, the Church is humble servant of this mystery, summoning
humankind to nothing but the life-giving cross of Christ as the axis of a world made new”
The purpose of the rite “is to generate a People shot through with a style worthy of the
gospel, with a finely disciplined humility before God’s grace in Christ—a Spirited People
irresistible in the splendid catholicity of its human and divine scope, unconquerable in the
fulfillment of its mission in the world” (pp. 200f).
These are powerful words, and they got me thinking and asking:
Do we Christians today have a strong communal sense of purpose, do we have what I
would call a cosmic sense of our mission: that it is through us that God wants to work his
purposes in healing and renewing and re-creating our world? Or have we perhaps
reduced religion and faith to an individualistic and sentimental pursuit of spiritual
comforts and good feelings? And if the latter is true, is it any wonder that people don’t
feel any need or purpose in going to church? And furthermore, if we as a Christian and
Catholic people lack a sense that our life of faith is utterly crucial to the salvation and
renewal of the world, is it any wonder that few young people feel drawn to priesthood or
religious life? Young people respond to challenge, to hardship, to danger. Do we as a
Catholic people really project an image of the Church as the bastion against the forces
of evil in the world, as the hope for healing of a broken, violent, hate-filled world, and do
we really want a leadership that will remind us of this dire calling and lead us into the
fray? Do we dare to be what Jesus calls us to be: the salt of the earth?
Think on these things.