November 2020
Dear Friends,

We are entering a sacred time of year where we mark the passage of time through celebration. November is a month where we honor our ancestors and the holy legacy they left us. It is also normally a time of year marked by a hurried pace as the year end approaches and we prepare to celebrate the holiday season. Typically it's a time marked by festive foods and festive gatherings. This year, however, will be very different. 

We will be making choices about how to celebrate that are difficult. We will be deciding whether to gather with family and friends or whether to just stay put. These are the kinds of choices we do not want to have to make, but in this pandemic time, are choices we are called to. 

For me, the great difficulty of the pandemic is that these typical celebratory milestones which mark the passage of time have not been a part of my day to day, so I've found myself reflecting about how to adapt to this present moment. 

I have been enriched by my monthly Zoom calls with the Ahava Lay Community as well as my calls with the Leadership Team for MLC-NA. Additionally, a very helpful opportunity has been participating in the Year of Shared Discernment conversations with our Area Reps. These calls have helped remind me that there are other members of the Marianist Family journeying alongside me during these pandemic days even though there are many miles that separate us. Would you be willing to set aside some time, to mark time through celebration on these calls? My first two Zoom calls were on special Marianist Feast Days and being together was a true celebration of these Feasts. Please join us for a Zoom call in November:
  • Tuesday, November 17 at 8 PM ET/7PM CT/5 PM PT/3 PM HT: Zoom Link to Join; Passcode: Marianist
  • Monday, November 23 at 10 PM ET/9 PM CT/7 PM PT/5 PM HT: Zoom Link to Join; Passcode: Marianist

Are there other ways that we can mark the passage of time during this festive time of year? Can we take on a new prayer habit and reconnect virtually with old friends? Can we embrace that maybe life will be less rushed and hurried as the year end approaches and reflect about how God is inviting our spirit in the coming year?

Though difficult to see right now, pandemics do end, praise God for that. At the end of this pandemic though our lives will be different than before, marked in new ways, we will still all be called to discern our vocational paths forward as Mary's Missionaries. We wait in joyful hope for an end to suffering and we continue to adapt in the spirit of our Founders. The words of Blessed Adele can reassure us during this time: "It is true we will never be tried beyond our strength. Courage, Courage!” 

Praying with you, 
Caitlin Cipolla-McCulloch
Year of Shared Discernment
November marks the official Module 2: To Know the Charism start date! Please take the months of November and December to dive deeply into this new module, either individually or with your MLC, which focuses on studying the following questions:
  • How does the Marianist charism concretely look when it is understood deeply by an individual or a community?
  • What are the ways the Marianist charism could impact the larger Church and the world?

The MLC-NA Leadership Council will be using your insights as we start to vision and create future goals for the Lay Marianist branch. We know that so many of you have wisdom and gifts to give back to our Marianist Family and we can't wait to hear from you!

Get Involved

1. Fill in a Module 1 Survey.

2. Join in a YSD Zoom call with other Lay Marianists

  • Tuesday, November 17 from 7-8 pm CT/8-9 PM ET: Zoom Link to Join Passcode: Marianist
  • Hosted by Kay Stone & Errol Christian 
  • Monday, November 23 from 7-8 pm PT/4-5 PM HT: Zoom Link to Join Passcode: Marianist
  • Hosted by Grissel Benitez-Hodge & Ellen Celaya

3. Join our Assessment Task Force

  • Are you someone who is interesting in reviewing and organizing data collection & responses? The MLC-NA Leadership Council is in the process of creating a Year of Shared Discernment Assessment Task Force to review responses from Lay Marianists and MLCs throughout YSD, draw out themes, make recommendations for initiatives that individuals or MLCs could work on collectively, and increase member engagement. We are specifically looking for team members from the following geographic regions: Hawaii, East Coast, Texas, and California. Please reach out LeeAnn at if you're interested no matter your region!

Important Links:
Marianist Feast Days
Thanks to Marge Cavanaugh and Crystal Sullivan for writing reflections on Marianist Feast Days in September. 

Nov 6 - Feast of Marianist Martyrs of Madrid
Nov 15 - Nuestra Señora de la Divina Providencia – Patroness of Puerto Rico
Nov 21 - Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Dec 8 - Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Dec 12 - Our Lady of Guadalupe

Post-Election Prayer

O God of Healing, 
We are called to wholeness, 
We are called to community, 
We are called to restore and renew. 

To the darkness of division, 
We choose to respond with light, 
To the despair of violence, 
We choose to respond with peace, 
Trusting in Your light and Your peace 
To open a way forward. 

O God of Healing, 
Help us listen and learn, 
Present to the sorrows we all bear. 
Help us reflect on your teaching 
As we seek new beginnings. 
Help us to act with the realization 
We are all your children, 
We are sisters and brothers, 
Connected with sacred bonds. 

God of Healing, 
Hear our prayer for wholeness, 
For community, for restorative peace, 
And for the renewal of our nation. 

In Christ’s name, hear our prayer. Amen.

Jane Deren, Ph.D
Education for Justice, a project of the Ignatian Solidarity Network

-LeeAnn Meyer, Chair of Spirituality
The past month has brought a lot of difficult conversations and suspense. There is much to be celebrated right now; yet, there is much work to be done in improving rhetoric and in our fight for justice. Earlier this year, the movie Just Mercy was released based off of the book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Below is a passage from Stevenson’s book about being a “stone catcher.” His emphasis on mercy is something we can all keep in mind today, and as we work toward unity in our country. Since I read this in his book, I have found myself thinking about what it means for me to be a “stone catcher” in my life. I hope you can take the time to reflection on what that means for you! 
Reading for Reflection:
“All these young children being sent to prison forever, all this grief and violence. Those judges throwing people away like they're not even human, people shooting each other, hurting each other like they don't care. I don't know, it's a lot of pain. I decided that I was supposed to be here [at the court] to catch some of the stones people cast at each other.'

I chuckled when she said it. During the McMillian hearings, a local minister had held a regional church meeting about the case and had asked me to come speak. There were a few people in the African American community whose support of Walter was muted, not because they thought he was guilty but because he had had an extramarital affair and wasn't active in the church. At the church meeting, I spoke mostly about Walter's case, but I also reminded people that when the woman accused of adultery was brought to Jesus, he told the accusers who wanted to stone her to death, 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.' The woman's accusers retreated, and Jesus forgave her and urged her to sin no more. But today, our self-righteousness, our fear, and our anger have caused even the Christians to hurl stones at the people who fall down, even when we know we should forgive or show compassion. I told the congregation that we can't simply watch that happen. I told them we have to be stonecatchers.

When I chuckled at the older woman's invocation of the parable, she laughed, too. 'I heard you in that courtroom today. I've even seen you hear a couple of times before. I know you's a stonecatcher, too.” ― Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Begin by practicing Lectio Divinia with John 8.
What strikes you? How does it relate to Stevenson’s passage?
What connections did you make? 
What strikes you from Bryan Stevenson’s passage? 
What does it mean to be a “stonecatcher” to you?
What have you found it difficult to be a “stonecatcher?” 
In what ways does our world need “stonecatchers” right now?

Closing Prayer

-Abbey Saurine, Chair of Education
Our bookkeeper transition is going well, but slow. We are still trying to get into a cross-
country reporting routine (Banking in Ohio and I am in Texas). Thanks for your patience as I continue to learn our systems and accounts. By next month we should have some kind of financial report to let you see how we are doing, and see how you can financially assist us in our Mission of fostering Marianist Lay Communities as we approach the close of 2020.

-Paul Combest, Chair of Temporalities
Other Announcements:
2020 Seed Grants Awarded!

The Visitation State Marianist Community (VSMC) is pleased to announce this year’s Seed Grant recipients. We are committed to enabling faith communities and fledgling service projects to thrive; to grow, and respond to the genuine needs of the young and the poor and to engage in the struggle for peace and justice.

Even though none of the 3 recipients received all the money requested - they can still accomplish a portion of their planned project with the partial funding. 
1)     Retreat to Broadway proposed development of 3 different virtual retreats to be given to Marianist communities and members of the Marianist family.  Funds were awarded to develop 1 of the 3 retreats. Topics proposed were a) Racial Justice, b) Environmental Justice, and c) LGBTQ+ Justice & Pastoral Inclusion.
2)    The Faith of the Heart Marianist Lay Community (FOH-MLC) in Hawaii. Their project is to provide funding for ten individuals to take vocational training in order to assist women who are being released from incarceration to be successful in life as they exit prison. They are partnering with two other organizations, Oahu Going Home Association and Pu’a Foundation to carry out this project. The grant will provide funds to train 8 individuals.
3)     Marianist Lay Communities of North America (MLC-NA) was awarded money to support purchase of resource materials for the Year of Shared Discernment

Gathering in the Spirit

Join us for Gathering in the Spirit - an initiative designed to build community through shared reflection and prayer within the Marianist Family. 

Gathering in the Spirit is designed to build community through shared reflection and prayer within the Marianist Family. By hosting monthly faith-sharing opportunities, the Embers make space for the Marianist Family to regularly pray, build stronger relationships with one another, and grow deeper in the Marianist Charism. 

The next Gathering in the Spirit is going to be on Wednesday, December 9 at 8pm ET! Please find more information and the Zoom link on this flyer
2020 Annual Appeal

The growth and vitality of the lay branch of the Marianist Family is due to the many volunteer hours and donations that make things happen behind the scenes. A list of highlights from 2020 was included in a recent email letter to you.

The MLC-NA operates on a calendar year. Your contribution today will help us
plan for 2021 as we plan virtual gatherings, articulate the outcomes of the Year of Shared Discernment, and roll out opportunities for individual and community formation. You may contribute as an individual or as a community (select Donate as a Company).

Please consider how your time, talent, and treasure can further the mission of the Marianist Family. Contribute today and THANK YOU!
MLC-NA Leadership Council and Area Representatives
Click on the Leadership Council member's title and Area Rep's name to email.
MLC-NA Leadership Council

Matt Dunn

Margy Lisjak
Abbey Saurine

Paul Combest

LeeAnn Meyer

Rob Brodrick

Caitlin Cipolla-McCulloch

Fr. Ted Cassidy, SM

Marceta Reilly

Kerryanne Bollman and Luke Horner

Kelly Welling

Sarah Gray
Area Representatives

Southeast (FL, NC)

Northeast (PA, NY, NJ, MD, VA)

To be determined
Central States (CO, IL, KS, NE, MO, WI) 


West Coast (CA, OR, WA)


Canada (French-Speaking)

Virtual Communities
To be determined