International Organization of Marianist Lay Communities (IO-MLC) 

Region of North America, Asia, Australia, and Ireland

November - 2019

How to Start a Community Around Mary

An Interview with
Jeanette Pence,
Lay Marianist from St. Louis, MO
G&T: Jeanette, what was your pathway to the Marianist Family?  

Jeanette: I was raised Catholic with a great seed planted in my heart by my parents who gave me a sincere devotion to the Holy family. Mary was held in high esteem and reverenced as the Mother of our faith and our church.
Now my husband, Jerry (at right) and I have raised three sons who have attended Catholic schools in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2010 two of our sons received the Marianist Award from their high school, St. John Vianney. We were the first parents to have two sons receive this special award on the same day. It reflected our Marianist faith and charism that we so strongly cherished. From that experience, I felt a very deep desire in my heart to spread this charism into more lives and homes.  
G&T: What were your first steps in spreading the charism?

Jeanette: I spoke with the Campus Minister, Mary Kay Fitzpatrick, and she contacted Fr. Al McMenany, SM, about starting a Marianist Lay Community (MLC) at Vianney. We invited Vianney parents and alumni to join us and since then, two MLCs were formed. 

This ignited a passion in me to form “Mary Discussion Groups” to a broader audience. A Mary Discussion Group shares, teaches and develops a rich relationship with our Blessed Mother. It highlights her virtues, her oneness with her son and with each one of us as well as her openness to God. Along with praying the rosary, it is an enhancement to our lives.

G&T: How did you get these Mary Discussion Groups started?  

Jeanette: I approached our Pastor and asked if we could begin a Mary Discussion Group at our parish. He suggested two groups - one in the evening and one for young moms to have an opportunity to participate after dropping their children off at school in the morning. We now have two thriving Mary Discussion Groups in our parish. Our mission is to help form lives in homes through the heart of Mary.  

We strengthen our knowledge of Mary throughout our parish by sharing our faith in small communities centered on Mary. Pope Benedict XVI said it so beautifully when he said, "Everything said about the ecclesia is true of her (Mary), and vice versa: the Church learns concretely what she is and is meant to be by looking at Mary. Mary is her mirror, the pure measure of her being..."  

G&T: What kind of materials do you use for these Mary Discussion Groups?  

Jeanette: There are some great choices of materials to begin a Mary Discussion Group in parish communities.  The Virtues of Jesus by Quentin Hackenwerth, SM, is a good book to start. It helps readers learn the virtues of Jesus through Mary’s eyes.  Mary, The Bible and the Mother of God, a video by Brant Pitre through the St. Augustine Institute, is another good start-up tool. In this video, “Marian doctrines come to life when viewed in the context of scripture as a whole. . .” 

G&T: What is your advice to others who might want to start a Mary-centered small faith community in their parish?

Jeanette: Blessed Father Chaminade worked tirelessly for small faith communities that were centered around our most holy Mother. Parishes often already have formed faith sharing communities. They become great places to introduce Mary Discussion Groups. While they are not the same as our MLCs, they are a first step to introducing laity to the Marian Face of the Church which is so needed in the world today. Over time, a Mary Discussion Group may decide to begin formation as an MLC. 

Jeanette: I pray that these discussion groups will help us connect fingertip to fingertip with Mary throughout the World!"
                                                   For more information on
forming Mary Discussion Groups in your parish,
please contact Jeanette Pence
A view from the Parish Perspective...
Jeanette Pence met with Linda Doyle (left), Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Peter's parish in St. Louis, MO, to get her perspective about the Mary Discussion Groups.

Jeanette: What do you see as the value of the Mary Discussion Groups?

Linda: One of the joys I have had about establishing Mary Discussion Groups at St. Peter is the profound interest that our parishioners have had in learning more about Mary, Our Mother and all that her title implies for us as Catholic men and women.

Jeanette: What is the value of the Mary Discussion Groups for the Parish?

Linda: Mary Discussion Groups are a great way to build community in parishes because you are putting people together who have a special devotion or interest in Our Blessed Mother. Mariology has always been important in the Catholic faith tradition and it’s wonderful to see how important she is to Catholics today, especially when we are called to be counter cultural. Mary is a perfect model for all of us to fall in love with and follow as she points us to her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.  

Some Thoughts from Venerable Marie Therese de Lamourous .. .
"Sometimes people think that many things are needed to begin a house of the Misericorde.

"What is really needed? Only this: A house with four rooms; namely, a chapel, a dormitory, a dining room, and a workroom. At first the kitchen can be in the dining room.

What else is needed? Bread for one day; work for one week; six francs on hand. That's all it takes, and nothing more.

In my view, with that one can found all the Misericordes one might wish!"

Mother Mary,
Help us to find simple ways to bring others to your son using trust and hope as our guide. Amen!

Marie Therese de Lamourous
Pope Francis Visits Japan
Atsuyuki Yanagawa, National Responsible for Japan, informed Marceta that Pope Francis will be visiting Japan next week and saying a special Mass at the Tokyo stadium. I'm hoping we get to see some pictures of the event next month with our Marianist members who will be attending! Click here to join in the Special Prayer to Protect All Life.
Upcoming Marianist Feast Days

  • Dec. 8 Immaculate Conception--Patronal Feast of the Marianist Sisters

  • Dec. 12 Our Lady of Guadalupe--Patroness of the Americas

  • Dec. 25 Nativity of Our Lord

  • Dec. 27 St. John the Beloved--Patron of the Society of Mary

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