Bro. Dionigi Taffarello
Partnership is a universal invitation. “Today the world is marked by networks of solidarity and the Church by the spirituality of communion. We are invited to live more and more in partnership with others and this is to be extended to all people of good will.” (30th G.C., 37)
“Everywhere they work, the Brothers endeavour to secure the involvement of competent lay people in the discharge of the various responsibilities.” (C 101).
The Good News Jesus proclaimed was the "Kingdom of God" and he asked his disciples to go and proclaim it to the ends of the world (Mt 28: 19-20). Mission is the path to holiness and it is the universal vocation of all those who are baptised in Christ. The Charism we received is a gift of the Holy Spirit given to us for the world; we have an obligation to share it with all.
As members of the Montfortian Family, inspired by spirituality and charism of St. Montfort, we believe that the spiritual path he trod in his days can continue to inspire us even today, in the way we relate ourselves to God and to others. Just like every human being, Montfort, during his life was looking for a way that leads to true happiness, which he calls wisdom. The best way he had found was to search and imitate Jesus, the true Wisdom.
As his disciples, we, religious and laity, have chosen to follow Montfort on that difficult, but blessed path. This Montfortian Charism and Spirituality, the Montfortian Family with Collaborators and Associates volunteers to live, share and promote.
The main aspects in this section are:
MONTFORT AND THE LAITY
Many involvements of the laity can be found in the Montfortian Missions, in areas that are perfectly in agreement with the intellectual level of the time, where, very often, the ideal was simply to “believe what the Church believes”.
1. A House called “Providence”
During his missions, Montfort made it a rule that it was necessary to rely solely on the alms from the parishioners to meet the cost of the missions. Though it is believed that the ‘House of Providence’ existed in a place only for the duration of the missions there, this was an opportunity for the laity to live out their catechism lessons, by serving Jesus in the poor and expressing their solidarity with the poor in practical ways, because they considered the poor as Jesus himself.
2. Lay People Involved in Different Activities during the Mission
During the mission of Montfort, all the different types of participation were solicited from the laity. It is reported that at Pontchâteau thousands of people worked freely for a period of fifteen months for the construction of a Calvary in 1709.
3. The Processions during the Missions
The processions that were organized by Montfort during all the missions he conducted in the different Parishes were a cherished activity for all the laity.
Montfort deeply believed in the grace of the Pilgrimages. At the beginning of Lent 1716, 33 White Penitents of St. Pompain proposed to the missionary a pilgrimage on foot to the shrine of Our Lady of Ardilliers in Saumur, lasting for one week. The pilgrimage to this shrine was revived in 1982, under the influence of the Brothers of St. Gabriel. Since then, a group of lay people have been taking part in this Pilgrimage every year to pray to get “true missionaries and Wisdom, through the intercession of Mary.”
5. The Renewal of the Spirit of Christianity
What the laity realized with Montfort, the Apostolic Missionary, is simply a means “to renew the spirit of Christianity among the faithful” through:
Renewal of the Baptismal Promises
Consecration to Jesus through Mary.
The Brothers of St. Gabriel in their 29th General Chapter (2000) introduced the idea of partnership in the Congregation and invited the Brothers to realize the partnership through the formation of the laity, through sharing of Montfortian Gabrielite Charism and mission. Pope John Paul II also called upon the Superiors General of the Montfortian Family saying, “I encourage you. Make this treasure (Montfortian Charism) to bear fruit; it must not remain hidden.” During the 30th General Chapter, the Congregation invited the Brothers to live more and more in partnership with others and this is to be extended to all people of good will (Message of the 30th General Chapter N° 37).
It is heartening to note that in many Provinces of the Congregation the seeds of partnership and collaboration have been sown and they have begun to sprout. The following are the different experiences in various sectors of the Congregation.
In America, the Province of Canada, which has had an organized group of Gabrielite Montfortian Associates for more than 30 years, has now attempted to re-group within the “St. Gabriel Network”, the various persons who share the mission and the spirituality of the Brothers. In Brazil, the “Groups of Friends of Montfort” are quite active. They are animated, in partnership, by Montfort Fathers, Daughters of Wisdom and Brothers of St. Gabriel.
In Europe, Partnership aims to share mission and spirituality. In Spain, groups of young former students, called “Faith and Friendship” meet regularly for planning, reflection and action. Groups of Associate Members “The Montfortian Family” organize meetings according to geographical sectors, for formation, prayer and at the national level, for outings and pilgrimages. The Brothers play the roles of animators and formators. In Italy, the Brothers work in partnership with the laity in animating activities for students after school time. In France, thanks to the structure called “Guardianship” which has been set up by the Church, the Provincial Superior can appoint the laity as the Directors of the Institutions who are under his responsibility. Laity are appointed as the headmasters of our Institutions. There has been a real deepening of the Montfortian Gabrielite Educational Project. A solidarity network, with other associations, is quite efficient in fund raising for helping projects in developing countries.
In Asia, considering the social and religious situation, the Brothers work with the laity mainly in the educational field. In Thailand, formation programs on the Montfortian Gabrielite Educational Project are organized for the lay people in charge of the Institutions. In Singapore, a real Partnership has been set up with the laity in charge of the schools managed in the past by the Brothers. The setting up of “Montfort Centre” which organizes retreats, and reflective sessions on a weekly or monthly basis has strengthened the associate movement. In India, a network of partners is slowly taking shape at the national level. The network is largely open to all those who are in link with the Brothers. In all the Provinces structures have been established and in some Provinces the movement for Partnership and Associates has taken deeper roots. Everywhere, the idea of collaboration and networking has made its way.
In Africa, many initiatives have been taken in the three provinces of Senegal, Brazzaville and Kinshasa. Groups of Associate Members are being organized. In Burundi and Ruanda, the brothers are involved in spreading the Montfortian spirituality and networking.
Implementation of the Message of the 30th General Chapter
The Congregation has taken very seriously the invitation of the 30th General Chapter: “We are invited to live more and more in partnership with others and this is to be extended to all people of good will.” (Message 37)
Spirituality of Partnership
To live the spirituality of Partnership helps to develop a strong relation with Christ’s mystical Body. The one who lives in such a way becomes a living branch of the Vine, Christ, and allows many other branches to grow on the same Vine, thus forming a loving and fruitful communion – the sacrament of the Kingdom of God. Thus, a Brother should be able to witness in the Congregation, through the spirituality of Partnership, what the Church should be. This is a prophetic mission to which one is called at this point of time.
Spirituality of Partnership is Mission Spirituality that demands rootedness in Christ, self-discipline, commitment and openness to embrace and be embraced by the world. Many are the challenges of the modern world: a materialism that denies God, an economic situation of plenty and poverty, war and violence of all sorts, communal and religious divisions. Our world is a world thirsting for justice and peace. To proclaim the Gospel in this context of the world is the mission of the Church today.
Montfortian Gabrielite Partnership (MGP)
To realize the Gabrielite Montfortian Partnership, the 29th General Chapter suggested four stages:
Formation to leadership and partnership;
Sharing of the Montfortian Gabrielite charism;
Sharing of the Montfortian Gabrielite mission;
Sharing of the identity and basic commitments. (29th G.C. 2.9)
Various Forms of Montfortian Gabrielite Partnership
Collaborators are lay people who work with the Brothers or the persons with whom the Brothers work. They share the mission of the Brothers in various degrees according to the quality of their commitments and their sense of mission. It is open, on a voluntary basis, to any person of good will, Christian or not. They are partners in the educational project of the Brothers worldwide.
Some are interested in Montfortian charism and spirituality. They are the “Montfortian Associate Members”
Some desire to live close to the Brothers by sharing their community life. Eventually, they can become members of the Congregation.
In their service of society, the Brothers work in a more or less strong way with many other people, especially with organisations (NGO, various associations, international organisations…) involved in the field of development, justice, peace and integrity of creation. That work hand in hand is called networking.
Context of Montfortian Gabrielite Partnership
We see more and more, today, the awareness of the personal dignity and freedom, of rights and equality, among the people. There is a desire for democratic participation in planning, decision-making and execution. Hence, there arises the need to respect specificity and pluralism of identities. This leads to a plural, participative democracy. Today, for many reasons, lay people want to be partners in the life and mission of the Church.
A New Paradigm in the Church
The existence of associate groups has been a growing reality within the Church over the last 50 years. As a result of Vatican II’s invitation to renewal, interest was sparked in ways of connecting and living common charism through different lifestyles. Associate groups formed as lay persons and members of religious Congregations found in one another a shared attraction to an Institute’s charism and mission.
Want to join our partnership?
Want to join hands with us as partners / associates / collaborators
to share our spirituality and Charism,
to cooperate in the mission of the Institute,
to create a just and fraternal world in which all can live as children of God.