June, 2021

Most of you know I live in Kansas. There is no "institutional presence" of the Marianist Family where I live. I met the Marianist brothers when my own big brother (David Fleming, 8 years older than me) left for "pre-postulantcy" at the age of 15. He discovered the Order from an ad in some religious publication and our family fell in love with the spirituality by following David around the world and meeting all the brothers and priests who embodied the charism.

Recently the World Council has been having discussions about creating "Family Councils" in our Marianist Population Centers. These Councils bring together representatives and leaders from all three or four branches of the Marianist Family (SM, FMI, MLCs, and Alliance Mariale) depending upon which branches are within a region.

The purpose of the Family Council is to build closer relationships among the branches, support each other and find ways to pray and celebrate together--like members of a thriving biological family. This "togetherness" makes our charism more visible to a broader audience and potentially has more impact on the broader Church and the world.

These are all good ideas, but I kept wondering what difference a Family Council makes for Laity like me who live in a Marianist "desert."

But I found out this month. Our family was FINALLY able to have a Memorial Mass in San Antonio for David, who died in March of 2020. THAT is when I felt the Marianist Family experience!

Representives from all three branches of the family were there. Our family met people we had not known before. We prayed together. We looked at pictures from David's albums. We shared stories. We ate a meal and drank wine together. It was like a BIG SPIRITUAL HUG from the Marianist FAMILY.

So even if we can't have Family Councils nearby, they can provide a visibility and presence to things that occur in the "hinterland" and host events that bring the "hinterland" to the population centers. That has great value for all of us!
Marceta Fleming Reilly