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
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!"