How does charism affect vocation ministry and renewal?

How does charism affect vocation ministry and renewal?

By Br. Paul Byrd OP, Sr. Mary Hughes OP, Sr. Mary Emily Knapp OP, Br. Seán Sammon F.M.S., Sr. Mary Whited C.PP.S.

IF A CHARISM IS A GIFT of the Holy Spirit to the church at the time of a congregation’s foundation, it should continue to be a source of renewal. How does religious charism impact vocation ministry?

In order to continue the conversation about the results of the NRVC-CARA study of new members, HORIZON put this question to a cross-section of leaders in religious life. In fact, each of the five writers were given three choices of questions but all chose to tackle this one. We present their reflections in keeping with one of the directives of the National Action Plan, which flowed from the fall 2010 “Moving Forward in Hope” symposium. Our hope is that these thoughts will spur fruitful reflection and response for all consecrated men and women.

Charism: gift to the person and the church 

by Sister Mary Hughes, OP

Discerning a religious vocation is a sacred part of a journey that can lead to consecrated life. The journey is, at the same time, exhilarating, scary, often filled with doubts, but ultimately filled with peace. There are multiple dimensions to each person’s journey. At the very least, there is discernment about the call to consecrated life and discernment about the charism one is called to follow.

Our loving God is vast and possesses innumerable gifts. Charisms are gifts of the Holy Spirit to the religious foundation, and these gifts are put at the service of the church and all of God’s people. For some congregations the invitation might be to reflect the mercy of God, and so the call would be to a congregation that holds out the works of mercy as its primary ministry and identity. Some are called to reflect God’s love for truth and the need to speak the truth. Some are called to reflect to our world God’s love for family. Others might reflect the love that pours out from God’s sacred heart. No single congregation or religious order can reflect the fullness of God. Each one invites a variation on the path to holiness. Together, we offer to our world a glimpse of the glory of God.

Part of discerning the call to a particular charism is an honest assessment of one’s own personal gifts, and, of course, listening for the gentle voice of God in one’s heart. One may find that one loves members of a particular community, but never feels called to join them. On the other hand, as one continues to pray, one can trust that God will introduce a community one might never have thought of, but in which one clearly feels at home. Part of the work of the vocation director is to raise up the kind of differences and questions that arise because of the various charisms that gift our church.

Even a superficial assessment of our world today tells us that charisms given in the Middle Ages or given during the time of the early church, are very much needed now. In a world of polarization, bitter words, policies that reinforce poverty and practices that de-value human life, the presence and the glory of God are urgently needed. In order to be gifts to the world, charisms become the organizing principles around which the prayer and the activities of the religious congregation revolve.

While most religious communities have the prayer of the church as part of their ritual, the charism of a congregation invites its members to pray again and again with those psalms, prayers and readings that nourished the call of the founder or founders. If one is called to the charism, one will feel increasingly at home in the style and words of this prayer. If one is not comfortable, it might be a sign that this is not the charism to which the individual is called. While this fit with the charism may not be evident in one or a few prayer sessions, it ought to be evident over time.

The charism of the congregation determines the ministerial involvements. The expression of some charisms is clearly best served by the ministry of education. For some, it will be best served through the ministry of health care. Other charisms find their expression best articulated in social service ministries. Still other congregations have charisms that can be expressed in a variety of ways. In order to feel at home in such settings, one must be able to experience the unity that is located in the charism. It is this unity that allows the diversity to make sense. The unity, I would suggest, would be evident in the ability of the members to express this unity and identify the necessity of diversity. In healthy communities, this is very much present.

The charism is also the principle around which communal living is centered. In some congregations, the members were sent out two by two, but the larger community remains the base. In other communities, most live within the larger community and perhaps rarely go out from that source of nourishment.

Whatever the ministry, whatever the size of the community, or the manner of dress, each member of a religious congregation is called to be a lover of God. Whatever the charism, each of us is called to lean into God and draw our strength from God alone, rather than anything that might be external to us. As we grow in our love and understanding of the charism, this is what happens to us.

Father Pedro Arrupe, the former general superior of the Jesuits, captured the essence of this discernment in these words:

Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

Vocation ministry is really about accompanying persons who are in the process of falling in love. The role of the vocation director is to support, to raise questions, and to rejoice with those who are falling deeply in love with God. At the same time, it is to accompany, to support, to raise questions, and to support those who are falling in love with the charism of a particular community or congregation. It is to stand with an individual who will say to the community, “I am responding to God’s call and I am at your disposal.” In this way, charisms can continue to be sources of personal holiness as they are poured out for the life of the church.

Sister Mary Hughes, OP is prioress of the Dominicans of Amityville, NY and  former president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.


Charism lead us forward 

by Brother Paul Byrd, OP

“There is something in the eloquence of the pulpit, when it is really eloquence, which is entitled to the highest praise and honour. The preacher who can touch and affect such a heterogeneous mass of hearers, on subjects limited, and long worn threadbare in all common hands; who can say anything new or striking, anything that rouses the attention, without offending the taste, or wearing out the feelings of his hearers, is a man whom one could not in his public capacity honour enough. I should like to be such a man” (Mansfield Park, chapter 34).

Although Jane Austen puts these words in the mouth of a man interested in preaching more as a medium for gaining public acclaim than as a ministry, she is touching on a genuine concern for people called to preach. Namely, the question of how to convey the Gospel message in a way that one’s audience, so varied in age, background, and intelligence, can hear it, and not in a perfunctory way, but with renewed interest. From the mouth of a true preacher, the words above would signify a passionate commitment to proclaiming the Gospel well, for the sake of others—an inner stirring that is part and parcel of who the preacher is, not just what he or she does. This is an example of a charism: a gift for the mission that is also an identity given by the Holy Spirit.

As a Dominican friar, I begin with the example of preaching because it is the readily identifiable charism that the Order of Preachers has retained over the course of the nearly 800 years of its existence. It was undoubtedly thanks to this clear mission of preaching for the salvation of souls, supported by the commitment to prayer, study, and life in community, that so many men and women came to join the order.

Factors in the vocation decline

But that was then. It is no secret that most religious communities, including the Dominicans, have suffered a serious decline of vocations in the past century, following the Second Vatican Council. Novitiates built for hundreds are now fortunate to house five to ten novices; with the “luckier” ones receiving around 20 or more. Many external and internal factors have contributed to the vocation decline, making this no simple problem to fix. I will outline only a few of these factors.

First, there is the classic battle against rampant individualism that emphasizes personal freedom and happiness over and against concepts like communal living and the common good. People immersed in such cultures are not likely to be interested in vowing chastity, poverty and obedience to a religious superior. Second, there is a misinterpretation of Vatican II that says one does not need to be a priest or a religious brother or sister to be holy. Indeed, there is a real sense that we can no longer talk about religious life or priesthood as being special paths to holiness—but without the promotion of vocations on both the ecclesial and the familial levels, fewer people are taking the option seriously. Third, the recent scandals in the church, especially the sex abuse scandal, have done a great deal to disillusion people, giving them the impression that religious and priestly vocations are merely the false fronts of hypocrisy. And finally, internal problems like the lack of communal living and the lack of central apostolates offer little incentive to vocation inquirers to join communities that do not function as communities.

To combat these problems, communities are beginning to ask themselves: Who are we? What are we for? Are we still relevant, or must we change? Have we changed too much? These questions of identity inevitably lead religious communities back to their charisms, since charisms answer both the question, “What do we do?” and, “What do we have to do with each other?” With the clarity that comes from being able to answer these two questions, energy for mission is replenished and the renewal of communal life is given direction, which in turn enables religious communities to continue their unique participation in the Church’s work and to attract new vocations.”

Charism unifies and inspires

Given what has been said, it should not be surprising that religious charisms have everything to do with successfully attracting new vocations. Charisms, if articulated clearly and lived authentically as visions which unite diverse groups of men or women into brotherhoods or sisterhoods, allow discerners to see a part of themselves reflected in communities they visit, which in turn inspires them to join these communities.

“What you are, I am, too,” is another way to express the unifying and attracting qualities of charism. This is what I felt when I first visited the Dominican friars in St. Louis and Chicago five years ago, and it explains why Austen’s comments on preaching in Mansfield Park so resonate with me.

This naming of commonality—the oneness a group of people can share in Christ through a charism—is at the heart of the history behind religious life. It explains why people first joined St. Anthony in the desert, St. Dominic in the pulpit, and Blessed Teresa in the streets of Calcutta, and it is and will continue to be the reason people join religious communities— but only insofar as charisms are taken out of the exhibits of motherhouse museums and allowed to take center stage again, thereby combating individualism, clericalism and anything else that works at weakening the communion the community members have with each other and with the God they serve. Thus, charisms are not to be treated merely as theoretical mission statements but as the gifts of the Holy Spirit—gifts that move us, renew and reform us, leading us forward and sustaining us if we remain true to them.

Brother Paul Byrd, OP is assistant to the promoter of vocations for the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great.


Charism: central to discernment 

by Sister Mary Whited, CPPS

As I focus upon the question of how religious charism impacts vocation ministry, I am reminded of how the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has been engaged in a contemplative process entitled “Behold I Am Doing Something New… Do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19). The process is designed to create a national conversation among women religious about the critical questions on the horizon for religious life. It is intended to enable greater contemplative engagement with the emerging questions being faced by the world and church and to strengthen and shape the mission of U.S. women religious. While the process has just begun, I believe it is already strengthening solidarity among women religious and reflecting the complementarity of charisms of individual communities.

As I think about this growing solidarity among many religious and the complementarity of charisms in relation to vocation ministry, I can’t help but wonder: “How do we together support the charism of religious life— in its various expressions— now and into the future? How do we strengthen our efforts and work together to nurture the multiple charisms that reflect the mystery of the sacred and respond to compelling needs of our church and the world? Do we perceive the new that God is doing?”

Throughout the ages many expressions of religious life have evolved. Some expressions are more reflective of the mystical tradition, with an emphasis on prayer and contemplation. Those that emphasize community and stability are more monastic. At the heart of apostolic religious life are mission and ministries. Various expressions reflect different experiences of God, different understandings of church, and different senses of how to be about the mission of Jesus in the world. There is so much richness in the various expressions of living religious life! There is ample room for a multiplicity of charisms of congregations to exist side by side. There is also a rhythm in which some congregations complete their missions and die and new congregations emerge. Joining together to nurture vocations in ways that affirm the various expressions of religious life and recognize the richness of various charisms evidences the reality that God is doing something new in us.

Charism is central, shapes the lifestyle

Vocation ministers in the United States try to respond to the calls of religious vocation in an age when lay persons are taking more responsibility in the church. The NRVC-CARA study of new members indicates that those who are drawn to and remain in religious life do so for a variety of reasons, including a desired lifestyle and the charism of a particular congregation. Given the various expressions of religious life and multiplicity of charisms of individual congregations, it would be shortsighted to focus attention on a single lifestyle as though there is “one right way” to live religious life and any other way is “wrong” or “misguided.” It is very important that members and congregations continue to assess whether specific elements of lifestyle are consistent with their unique expression of religious life and the charism of their congregation. However, it is simplistic to assume that a change in elements of lifestyle will result in new vocations. It is also important to realize that, throughout the development of the various expressions of religious life, there were times when one expression of religious life has attracted more vocations than other expressions. This time is not an exception.

While the NRVC-CARA study indicates that some persons who seek religious life look for a clear identity in elements of lifestyle, I believe that, at this time when religious life is in a process of transformation, it is important to emphasize the identity that comes from the prophetic nature of religious life and the charisms of our congregations. While lifestyle reflects some aspects of identity and may be a significant element in what attracts some new members to a congregation, identity is ultimately rooted in the charism of religious life itself and its various expressions, as well as the charism and mission of each individual congregation. The charism of a congregation is at the heart of the identity and life of the community. And so, in vocation ministry, it is important to assist those discerning religious life to explore various expressions of religious life as well as individual charisms of congregations. Even more than elements of lifestyle, the charism of religious life itself, together with the charism of a congregation, must be the primary focuses for discernment.

Sharing our charism, wherever that leads

The study indicates that new members who enter religious life are much more diverse in terms of age, racial and ethnic background and life experience. What is not directly addressed in the study is that persons discerning religious life reflect diverse perspectives around who God is, what “church” is, and how the “spiritual” relates to the “world.” Vocation ministers are in a key position to help persons articulate these important aspects in relation to their attraction to religious life. They can help those they accompany to move toward deeper discernment around these significant aspects, integrally connected with the choice of pursuing religious life in a particular congregation.

Nurturing a call to religious life implies the sharing of charism. According to the study, “New members are drawn to religious life by a sense of call and a desire for prayer and spiritual growth…. More than anything else, they were attracted to their particular religious institute by the example of its members and especially by their sense of joy, their downto- earth nature, and their commitment and zeal.” These desired aspects are grounded in the charism of religious life and reflect the charism of a congregation. If we believe religious life and our charisms are worth sharing, we will be eager to offer them as possibilities to others, regardless of whether they enter our congregation or choose another.

As religious life moves into the future in uncertain times, vocation ministry is a walk in trust. Such a walk requires a conviction that the Spirit is working in our lives and in the lives of those with whom we walk. Let us continue to walk the journey together, knowing that God is present in the many expressions of religious life and the various charisms that reflect so well the multiple facets of the Mystery of God and the many aspects of mission. Truly God is doing something new. Do we not perceive it?

Sister Mary Whited, CPPS died in August, 2011, not long after she wrote this article. She had served as superior general of the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of O’Fallon, MO, and as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Over the years her ministry focused on initial formation, education, adult faith formation, retreat ministry and facilitation. May she rest in peace.


Fidelity to charism leads to vocation 

by Sister Mary Emily Knapp, OP

What do our religious charisms, some of which are hundreds of years old, have to say to the Facebooking, tweeting young people of today? The charism of a congregation is a gift of the Holy Spirit given to the founder, and it defines the distinct spirit of the congregation. In the years that have followed the Second Vatican Council there has been much turmoil in society, and rapid changes have impacted attitudes and expressions of religious life. The Council’s call to return to the spirit of our founders continues to serve as an anchor that helps us navigate the powerful currents of culture and not be swept away by them. Fads come and go, but the message of Jesus Christ is a constant one that must be adapted to every time and place. If presented faithfully and lived joyfully within the life of its members, a charism that is “ever ancient, ever new” can have great appeal to today’s youth. Steeped in the inspiration of its founder and the traditions of its community, each religious congregation is called to prudently adapt its religious charism to the needs of the contemporary culture. When this is done, the charism of the congregation can become a source of renewal and will have a direct impact on vocation ministry.

When we remain faithful to the original inspiration of our founders, the identity of our religious communities is set in bold relief, and that is appealing for young people who are seeking meaning and clarity amid a culture that tells them anything goes. When members of a religious community are formed in the charism, they know who they are, what they are about, and where they are going. Our world today can be a confused and confusing one. Fundamental values that once were clearly understood and widely accepted are now being called into question (for example, sexual identity, the complementarity of the sexes, the institution of marriage, the basic unit of the family, etc.). In the midst of this confusion, young people are seeking answers, not in easy black and white fundamentalism, but in the rich tradition and teachings found in the Catholic faith. I am frequently surprised by college-age young women who are reading church documents in search of a deeper understanding of their faith: Evangelium Vitae, Fides et Ratio, and the beautiful Apostolic Exhortation, Vita Consecrata. I have found that these clear teachings of the church speak to these young women in ways that are life-changing. They desire to give themselves to an ideal that is intelligent and far-reaching. When they seek and find the truth that will set them free, they hold fast to it.

Lifestyle checklist: seeking a noble cause

It is my experience that young people are drawn to religious communities which have a clear and well-defined identity. Often young women come to us with a checklist of characteristics they are seeking in a religious community, such as faithfulness to the church and the sacraments, the practice of prayer (individual and common) and Eucharistic Adoration, the wearing of a religious habit, and devotion to Our Lady. I find they are not inclined to such a way of life out of nostalgia but from the timeless idealism which has always moved young people to give themselves wholeheartedly to a cause. In speaking with the youth of the New Millennium in Rome, during World Youth Day 2000, Pope John Paul II challenged the young not only to give themselves totally to a cause, but to a person who fulfills their highest hopes and desires: “In saying ‘yes’ to Christ, you say ‘yes’ to all your noblest ideals.” Christ is still calling and young people are still answering.

Young people are also attracted to visible witnesses of faith and to the joyful living of community—both of which are tied to the founding charism of a religious community. Ironically, while we live in a world of radical individualism where people feed on the ability “to do what I want when I want to,” young people are drawn to this witness of community life that has a deep simplicity and radical humility. There is an innate human desire to be a part of something larger than oneself. These young people want to belong, to contribute to a cause. Our life in community seems to attract them all the more because it offers the opportunity to imitate those early followers of Christ, whose communal life was both an expression of their faith in him and a source of mutual support and example—a graced atmosphere where love is the common striving.

As Dominicans, the sisters of my own community are called to a “holy preaching,” in the spirit of our Holy Father, St. Dominic. For our particular Congregation of St. Cecilia, founded in 1860 for the Christian education of youth, this “holy preaching” continues to be carried out in the classroom. Originally established at the invitation of the bishop in the small diocese of Nashville, TN for the education of the young women, we have continued the teaching mission in changing historical circumstances, seeking to adapt the same educational apostolate to meet the needs of the time. Our sisters are now present in over 36 schools in 21 dioceses (including Sydney, Australia and Vancouver, British Columbia).

Many charisms needed

Through the charism of the Dominican life and the apostolate lived in our congregation, we live the motto of Dominic, Contemplare et Contemplata Aliis Tradere, to contemplate and give to others the fruits of our contemplation. While first being called to be the Bride of Christ and placing prayer at the heart of our life, we then can use the energy and enthusiasm that results for spreading the Gospel, through teaching and taking Christ to the world.

For over 2000 years, men and women, in imitation of Jesus Christ, have sought to leave everything behind to devote their lives to him with an undivided heart. They have given their lives to Christ in community and in service of the church, carrying out many different and much needed works for the building up of the kingdom of God. “In this way, through the many charisms of spiritual and apostolic life bestowed on them by the Holy Spirit, they have helped to make the mystery and mission of the church shine forth, and in doing so have contributed to the renewal of society” (Vita Consecrata, 1).

Today more than ever, the many charisms of religious communities are needed for the up-building of the church. In the measure that we are faithful to our founding charisms, the joy of the Holy Spirit will abound, and many among our youth will be more attuned to the voice of Christ calling them to religious life. This, in turn, will enable the Gospel of Christ to be spread to the ends of the earth. Let us together pray to the Lord of the harvest to give us a spirit of humility and faithfulness to respond to the church’s call.

Sister Mary Emily Knapp, OP is vocation minister for the Dominican Sisters of Nashville, TN, which is one of the religious communities identified in the NRVC-CARA study as successfully attracting and retaining new members in recent years.

Charism and the process of renewal

by Brother Seán D. Sammon, FMS

Just what does the word charism mean? St. Paul used the term to describe those gifts given to each of us for the good of everyone, and he was intrigued by their universal presence and uniqueness. He was fond of pointing out that one gift is given to this person and another to that but always for the good of all. Paul also helped us understand that the charism that is part of the life of each of us is an important element in the ongoing change of heart that should mark genuine Christian living.

Pope Paul VI, realizing that the word charism takes on a different meaning when applied to a religious congregation rather than an individual, defined it as nothing more and nothing less than the presence of the Holy Spirit. He also suggested that allowing that Spirit to work in and through us can give rise to some surprising outcomes. The following story illustrates this point.

In 1686, after more than 30 years of exile in Bilbao, Spain, two Irish women, members of the Dominican congregation, set out once again for the land of their birth. They did so at the urging of the then provincial of the Friars of St. Dominic; he judged it safe enough to establish once again a convent in Galway in the west of Ireland.

Rising to the challenge Sisters Juliana Nolan and Mary Lynch made their way home in an open boat. They did so with full knowledge that upon their arrival in Ireland they would face many unknowns. When the full and final history of Dominican life in the church is written, these two women will hold prominent places. They endured exile, war, political upheaval, the crushing anti-Catholic penal laws, hazardous journeys, and financial insecurity to reestablish in the land of their birth the Dominican way of life. Mary was 60 as she took up this task; Juliana was 75.

Who but the Holy Spirit could give any of us the courage to do what these two women did? But becoming involved with the Spirit of God can be dangerous business indeed. The genuine renewal of religious life, however, cannot be accomplished unless we are willing to risk that involvement and, in so doing, reclaim the charism of our respective congregations. Understandably, doing so will involve a cost, and at times the price we are asked to pay can be very high indeed. If you and I are seriously interested in the renewal of religious life today, however, we need to put aside excuses such as age, temperament, fear of the future, etc. and get on with the task at hand.

Mary as model of openness to God

Mary of Nazareth is a prime example of a person who lived her life in the Spirit of God. Paul VI reminds us that the future mother of Jesus had the good sense to question God’s messenger, and Luke tells us that the angel’s news “greatly disturbed” her. And if we believe that she had free will, we will have to admit that Mary could also have said “no” to God’s invitation. Instead, she said “yes” and in so doing changed the course of her life and that of human history.

If we look to Mary as a model of how to respond to the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the life of our congregations, we must also never forget that Mary was a woman of this earth. She suffered, experienced doubt, was joyful, and, like most women of her day, was probably illiterate. She also had to grow in her understanding from Jesus as son to Jesus as Lord. St. Thérèse of Lisieux tells us that Mary is worthy of honor, not because she received special privileges, but rather because, like us, she suffered in the dark night of faith.

Over the centuries we have managed to domesticate this remarkable woman of faith. She is worthy of honor, though, not because she was the mother of Jesus but rather because she was his disciple. By imitating this aspect of her, we put ourselves in the best position to address the challenges that renewal presents to us today.

Charism and structures

Over time charisms give rise to structures. They become its institutional face and guarantee its valid expression. While all charisms develop structures, the structures can also change from time to time. Such a development occurs in response to changed circumstances or when the structures in place no longer capture the experience of the congregation and its members. We call this process renewal.

Sometimes it occurs slowly over time; on other occasions it is thrust upon us by circumstances. The past four decades of religious life have been marked by a number of dramatic changes. More than a few observers would identify Vatican II’s call for the adaptation and renewal of religious life as being the source of the upheaval that has occurred. Indeed, so pronounced has been the change that has taken place in our way of life that quite a number of commentators have suggested that we are undergoing a paradigm shift in our understanding of religious life. What does that mean exactly, and what bearing does it have on charism?

Paradigms are constructs that help you and me make sense of our experience. Theologian Jon Sobrino compares them to the hinges on a door. Moments of crisis and unhinging occur when the old and worn-out hinges can no longer support the weight of the entire door. Such a situation calls for the creation of new hinges so that the door may once again turn, and turn well.

Paradigms are useful in so far as what they help explain outweighs what they fail to explain. When the reverse is true, a paradigm shift takes place. A new model is required to explain the change. Most of us have read about past paradigms of religious life, including those from the ages of monasticism, mendicants, and more recently the era of apostolic religious institutes. If the paradigm that helps explain our way of life is shifting today, the expression of our charism cannot help but be affected. During a time of reform in religious life, we are called to undertake a process of discernment and to return to the spirit of our original charism. The challenge we face during a time of renewal or paradigmatic shift is different: reimagining our charism anew in light of the signs of the times. And that means having to deal with the Holy Spirit.

Vatican II taught us that you cannot contain the Holy Spirit. The charisms of our congregations need to be lived and preserved today not only by members; they must also be developed and deepened in union with the People of God, who are themselves in a state of continual growth.

The Council also reminded us that we are not to put limits on God’s generosity. Prior to Vatican II conventional wisdom held otherwise. Most people thought that charisms were restricted to particular religious institutes and their members. Ignatius’s charism appeared to reside with the Jesuits alone, Francis’s solely with Franciscans, Dominic’s inspiration available exclusively to members of his Order of Preachers. Today, however, we realize that the charisms that came into our world through the founders of religious congregations are touching the hearts and capturing the imagination of both the members of those congregations and laity alike.

A final thought about charism is that we can never reduce it to tradition alone. On the one hand, it places restrictions upon us; but on the other, it challenges us to go beyond ourselves. We are called to maintain a careful balance between both. To do so helps everyone understand the difference that exists between the apostolic work of one group and another.

The charism of any group is a vibrant, life-giving and selfcorrecting tradition, rooted in the interaction of past tradition with the call of the Holy Spirit to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. Have no doubt: the Spirit of God who was so active and alive in the founders of our congregations does long to live and breathe in you and me today, religious and laity alike. 

Brother Seán D. Sammon, FMS was the superior general of the Marist Brothers from 2001- 2009. A clinical psychologist, he writes and speaks on contemporary issues of religious life. Presently he is a scholar in residence at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY.


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