From June 14 to 17, 2022, the expanded Lay Formation team of the Arco Norte Region met at the Marist Formation Center in Guatemala City to close the work that began in May 2020 virtually. During this time, the area of the Marist laity in the region has been reflecting, discerning and planning the best way to guide the Marist laypeople who make the dream of Marcellin Champagnat and the first brothers for the region come to life.
The representatives of the provinces of the region who attended were H. Félix Roldán and Jacques Boudrias from the District of Canada, Matt Fallon and Antonio Cantú from the United States, Beatriz Coronado Estudillo and Bibiana Enríquez Rodríguez from Central Mexico, Abigail Fernanda Ruíz Cuevas and Alfredo from Jesús Rodríguez Márquez from Occidental Mexico, Nohemy Pinto and Ana Isabel Saborio Jenkins from Central America, Margarita Espinoza Torres de Norandina, Raúl Amaya Rivera, Secretary of the Laity of the Institute, Br. Rodrigo Espinosa Larracoechea, Executive Secretary of the Arco Norte Regional Committee (CRAN), Claudia Rojas Carvajal Coordinator of the Arco Norte Laity, all of them participated in an atmosphere of dialogue and reflection, and, above all, of great joy and hope for the future of the lay Marists of the region.
During the meeting, it was possible to share the new challenges and realities that the laity are experiencing in the different administrative units of the region in this post-pandemic era, as well as the new ways of animation that have been implemented after the changes of some of the Provincial Brothers and their councils.
The main goal of this meeting was to elaborate the pastoral strategic planning of the Marist laity, including the 4 important cores of development: Communion, formation, vocation and organization. To do this, work moments were opened to listen to the planning of the region, the secretariat and the pastoral areas of initial and ongoing Formation of Brothers, Spirituality and Economy.
We thank Br. Hipólito Pérez Gómez and the Province of Central America for their love and welcome, since they made us feel at home. To the Provincial Brothers and their teams for making the movement and participation of all the administrative units of the region possible, to the Secretariat of the laity for their presence during all this time, to Brother Rodrigo for his close and articulating presence, to Claudia Rojas for the organization and fraternity, and finally to all the people who participate because, although we leave with a lot of work to do, we also leave full of dreams, joy and enthusiasm because we know we are leading builders of the Marist Family in the Arco Norte region.
Formation Laity Expanded Team
Within the framework of the week for Laudato Si’, on May 23, the members of the Arco Norte and América Sur regions met virtually for the presentation of the Integral Ecology Bulletin initiative, by the Integral Ecology thematic group, formed in the Second Assembly of the Marist Network of International Solidarity.
This publication is intended to contribute to environmental awareness and training, bringing together the ecological projects that are carried out in some schools and that these can be replicated in others.
In the words of Juan Carlos Robles Gil: “When a publication is generated, it is published for three fundamental reasons, because it is recognized that there is something valuable that one wants to share, because it is recognized that there is someone to share it with and because it is visualized that this sharing can be useful to encourage more actions. These three elements are essential for this newsletter to come to life.”
- In this first edition, four projects were presented from the provinces:
- From the garden to the common house by Mariana Maglioni Granada, Alondra Patiño Garrido and Alejandrina Pinto Carrillo from the Marist University of Mérida (MUM)
- Green Diplomacy by María Pía Mc Manus Gómez from the MUM
- Solar stoves Ana Paola Vázquez González and César Arturo Calderón Sánchez from the MUM
- A cafeteria committed to the environment by Manuel Alberto Solís Aguilar and Javier Sebastián Rodríguez Blumenkron from Colegio Pedro Martínez Vázquez, in Central Mexico
Also, a statement was presented by the Marist Foundation for International Solidarity (FMSI) and other Marist Institutions at the American level,
which expresses concern about the forest fires in Bolivia, specifically in the Chiquitania area, in the Madidi Park, in the Tunari National Park and in the surroundings of the Alalay lagoon, and in the danger that it entails for the Common Home.
This material will be published every six months and we will have the second edition at the end of October 2022. To consult the bulletin, go to the Marist Education for Good Living page by clicking here.
From February 21 to 26, brothers, lay men and women members of the Arco Norte Regional Committee had the opportunity to meet in person at Quinta Soledad in Mexico City, after two years of work virtually. Undoubtedly, being together in person created a necessary spirit for the week that was full of work, but also for the integration of the Committee, the review and organization of the work has been carried out and the next steps to continue the vision of “walking together as a Global Family” of the Institute.
Above, left to right: Ana Laura Rubio (Central Mexico/Assistant), Iván Chacón (Central Mexico/Vocational Culture), Claudia Rojas (Norandina /Formation of Lays), Br. Gregorio Linacero (General Government), Albert Rivera (USA/ Brothers Today), Irma Zamarripa (Occidental Mexico/Education), Jessica Urquiza (Central Mexico/Communications) and Br. Rodrigo Espinosa (Executive Secretary/Central Mexico)
Below, left to right: Br. Laurentino Albalá (Norandina /Economy), Br. Juan Antonio Sandoval (Central America/Spirituality), Socorro Álvarez (Central Mexico/Solidarity Heart) and Br. Daniel Martín (Central America/Evangelization)
The afternoon of arrival, Br. Luis Felipe González, Provincial of Central Mexico, thanked each attendee for their willingness to travel to this important meeting for the Region and welcomed them to their home. The next morning, the session began with a virtual message from HH. Joao Carlos do Prado and Ken McDonald, where they invited the team to enlighten themselves through the calls of the General Chapter to guide the upcoming regional actions, always focused on the mission of reaching children and young people, especially those on the margins of the world, and as global family. During the rest of the day, the attendees recognized each other not only as Marists, but also as people with life stories that, along with their experiences within their Provinces, would have to create the synergy to define the continuous journey of the Region.
During the week, reflections and exhaustive reviews of the work carried after the Regional Forum of October 2020 were made, to visualize how it responded to the XXII General Chapter and generate the pertinent strategies to make it a reality. The achievements and challenges of each of the regional teams were also shared, their organization was discerned and important adjustments were made to the regional guidelines, starting with the Assembly and each Coordination.
With the question “What is the Region we dream of?”, there was a lot of reflection on the reality not only of Arco Norte, but of each one of the Provinces and Administrative Unit that make are part of it and how this multicultural richness with three different languages is a strength, but at the same time a challenge, to have an adequate and forceful Strategic Plan towards 2026. The next steps will be taken in the General Assembly, in Rome, where Brother Rodrigo, as Executive Secretary, will present the results of the meeting before the Regional Council, formed by the Provincials and District Superior of all the administrative units of Arco Norte.
During the week, the Committee was invited to the Marist Community of Acoxpa in Mexico City, lead by Brother Juan Montúfar, and they traveled to the state of Puebla for a moment of bonding and team building in one of Mexico’s richest places in history, art and culture.
On December 2, the regional team for the Formation of Lays met to close the activities of 2021. Despite the challenge of two years in a pandemic, quarantines and isolation, this group of Marists from Champagnat managed to share the lay processes that their provinces and the new district of Canada developed, with joy, hope and creativity. They also carried out the SWOT analysis for the pastoral work of the region and defined the themes where the efforts will be focused in the coming years: Organization, Communion, Formation and Vocation, that will accompany the development of the Lay Vocation Forum.
Along these achievements, perhaps the richest part that this period leaves us is a Marist Arco Norte family with known faces, where each one feels like a bridge between their province and our region. Br Hipólito Pérez, Provincial of Central America and Coordinator of Arco Norte regional, attended the meeting and invited the team of lays to reflect on three attitudes: gratitude, welcome and creation. The construction of community prayer based on the figures of the manger was also carried out.
A small virtual toast made by Claudia Rojas C., Coordinator of the Regional Formation of Lays team, closed this beautiful and emotional moment. A special thanks to the secretariat of the lays, to the Provincial Brothers of each of the provinces and the district for facilitating the participation of these Marists of Champagnat, but, above all, we give our gratitude to Jesus, Mary Our Good Mother and Champagnat who continue to walk with us.
Arco Norte Formation of Lays team
Last Saturday, October 16, the Best Practices in Religious
Education Regional Meeting was held, organized by the Evangelization
team of Arco Norte, where teachers of different areas like faith education,
religion and catechesis connected from the provinces of the United States,
Central Mexico, Occidental Mexico, Central America, Norandina and Canada.
The objective of this meeting was to create ties between all the Marists of
Arco Norte on the subject of catechesis and religious education in schools,
as well as to help teachers improve and animate, in community, the
experience and mission of accompanying the faith of children and young
During the meeting, there were different presentations of best practices
that, throughout the region, teachers have brought to their classrooms:
Alberto Rodríguez, from the USA, spoke about the online tool
called Edpuzzle that allows you to edit videos for a more dynamic and
interactive class, through questions, creation of quizzes or voice notes,
where teachers and students actively participate in the day's
lesson. Undoubtedly, there are countless digital tools that allow this type of
different and dynamic activities during virtual classes.
Primitivo Villegas, from Occidental Mexico, presented the "Teacher training
program in the Human-Christian area" which aims to manage active
participation, multidisciplinary and systemic knowledge to train teachers
with an ethical project that assumes life in a contextualized, reflective and
critical way, but also in a compassionate and committed one to better
educate their students. This program has as methodologies the dialogue
focused on life experiences, a learning community and a flipped classroom
Jonhy Castillo and Ana Paola Frayle, from Central Mexico, spoke about the
"Virtual Meeting Space" which aims to take a break from the day to day life
to have a moment of interiority about what we are living in these times of
confinement, as well as experiencing an encounter with God through
sharing experiences with their group and finding a meaning of what they’re
going through, making them feel in company, letting all the senses flow to
be able to focus on what God and our heart tells us.
Constanza Naranjo, from Norandina, presented “National and Zonal Marist
Encounters of Schools of Religious Education”, where meeting spaces are
fostered between students from Marist institutions in Colombia, in order to
share knowledge and experiences that allow a bigger vision of the world,
thus how to educate them for the exercise of religious freedom and qualify
them in their spiritual competence. The methodology used was based on
speakers, forums, reports, life communities and guided visits.
Nohemy Cuéllar, from Central America, spoke about the Genially platforms,
a software that allows interactive content through the creation of images,
infographics, presentations, microsites, catalogs, maps, among others, which
can be equipped with interactive effects and animations to use in classes
and have more interaction with students. She also presented Nearpod, a
tool that allows the creation of a guided presentation that incorporates a
multimodal content, and interacts with the audience/students through
activities that allow synchronous or asynchronous work. Another tool
is Quizizz and the use of google sites to generate a microsite to interact even
more closely with the students.
After sharing these best practices, Juan Ignacio Fuentes, from Argentina,
invited us to reflect on how those who dedicate themselves to faith
education feel about their here and now, within the context of the
pandemic that still continues, what their heart tells them and why it is
important that they also have a moment of interiority, to be able to
reimagine education in the post-pandemic faith. He shared the feelings and
drawings of students, which made clear the importance of the role and work
that the teaching team dedicated to catechesis does when working with
We must generate: safe places to meet and care, narratives of experiences
favoring expressions, emotional catharsis and learning, moments of
listening to the heart and spiritual experiences, and lively environments of
enjoyment that allow humor and games, shared Juan Ignacio.
Finally, Br. Daniel Martin, coordinator of the regional evangelization team,
thanked the participation of almost 120 people during the meeting,
including speakers and attendees, as well as the rest of the members of the
Arco Norte teams. We take today a lot of work that we can do together,
rethink the image and importance of a post-pandemic God and dream of
forming common themes for our communities, with dialogue on spiritual
and emotional intelligence.
“Life is a movement forward!” This is the title that could be used to introduce the Assembly of Canada that was held from July 30 to August 1. Indeed, August 1, 2021, is a pivotal date for Marists in Canada, lay people and brothers. The Province of Canada became the “District of Canada“, while the AMDL (Association Mariste des Laïcs) became the Marist Association of Champagnat of Canada (AMCC), an entity bringing together brothers and laypeople in the pursuit of a common ideal.
The passage from “Province” to “District” is, at the level of the Institute, a sort of “novelty”: we are more used to experiencing the opposite – passage from District to Province – or the regrouping of two or three Provinces into one. The General Council had therefore foreseen a canonical structure adapted to North America: the District of Canada is thus attached to the two Provinces of Mexico (Central and Western) and to the Province of the United States, which assures the canonical link: these three Provincials, with the Superior of the District, form the “Council of Governance”. It is in this capacity that the three provincials – Daniel O’Riordan (USA), Luis Felipe Gonzalez (MC), Louis Enrique Rodriguez Santana (MO) – participated in the meetings throughout the weekend. Brother Ernesto Sánchez, Superior General, and Brother João Carlos do Prado joined the Saturday (July 31) morning session.
These are not “banal” events: they imply not only changes of statutes, but an invitation to a new beginning. It was therefore appropriate to experience them in a spirit of continuity and openness to the future. Two people – Félix Roldan (a brother) and Pedro Chimeno (a layman) – were responsible for the organisation of the weekend. They worked with a team of brothers and laypeople, young and not so young, to draw up a programme which included information, of course, but also reflection, exchanges and courses of action. And even if the health measures imposed by the COVID-19 are becoming more flexible, this meeting had to be carried out via Zoom: the organisers and the participants were able to adapt well to this. As will be seen, the Assembly consisted of 4 blocks of 2 hours each.
Friday, 30 July – 1st block: “Dare”
The opening of the Assembly of the new “District of Canada” was done jointly by Brother Gérard Bachand, outgoing Provincial, and Mr. Jacques Boudrias, President of the Lay Association. Brother Gérard took advantage of the occasion to recall the road travelled since the first “Forums” in the 1990s bringing together brothers and laypeople of the former Province of Iberville up to the crossroads where we are now, where laypeople and brothers meet “around the same table”.
There was then a slide show presenting the major stages in the life of Brother Gérard who has animated the Province over the last 7 years and ensured the passage from Province to District in the context of the pandemic, with all that this implied in terms of work, consultation and virtual meetings. The tribute was touching, and above all well-deserved! Bravo and thank you, Gérard!
Then a team of young Marists, with the help of a video “Dare”, asked us: “Why am I participating in the Assembly? What contribution do I want to make to ensure the success of the process that we are undertaking? Then, in workshops, everyone was able to share expectations and the contribution they intend to make.
Saturday, 31 July – 2nd block: “Daring to give birth
The session opened with a talk by Brother Ernesto, Superior General. Inspired by the theme of the day, he invited us, brothers and laypeople, “to read today’s reality with the eyes of God, to be beacons of hope and to dream God’s dream for us, in our context here in Canada.
Following this word of encouragement from Brother Ernesto, a first video was presented, “Who is the teenager of 2021“. Following the picture drawn by the young adults, the participants took time for personal reflection in light of the more technical part.
There was first of all a moment of reflection and interiority to carry out this new stage of unity between laypeople and brothers under the umbrella of the Association of Marists of Champagnat of Canada.
Firstly, the address by the president – a layman – gave a brief history, with the help of a slide show of the road travelled to arrive at this new entity where together we will be called to give witness to the values bequeathed by Marcellin. Then we moved on to different items on the agenda: election of a president and a secretary of the assembly – reminder of the responsibilities assigned to the members of the Board, presentation of the candidates and election. The 7 elected members are: Jacques Boudrias, Fernando Castro, Michel Beaulac, Claudine Cholette, Jessica Bonneau, Brothers René Mailloux, Gilles Hogue. Together, they will share the various responsibilities of the Board at their first meeting on August 12.
Sunday, 1 August – 4th block: “Daring to walk together
Before entering into the celebration of this last stage, Br. João Carlos do Prado, Liaison Councillor of Arco Norte, and Br. Dan O’Riordan, Provincial of the United States, reiterated to the brothers and laypeople of the District their support and their involvement in the new reality that we are called to live.
The rest of the District Assembly was a long moment of celebration presided over by Mgr Alain Faubert, auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Montreal and a Marist who has always been involved. Inspired by the text of the Gospel where Jesus invites his disciples to “cross over to the other side”, to a pagan land (Lk 8, 22ff), he invited the Marist family to “dare to go to meet our world of today, different from that which we have known, in order to respond to the emerging needs of our time”.
Then came the conclusion of the whole Assembly with the handing over of “powers”. In a highly symbolic gesture – in connection with Robert Lebel’s song whose words lend themselves very well to such a circumstance: “Like Him, to know how to set the table, like Him, to tie on your apron, to get up every day and serve out of love, like Him! Brother Gérard Bachand took off his apron to pass it around the neck of Brother Gaston Robert, superior of the new District. Brother Gaston Robert then addressed the assembly. Inspired by Psalm 126, so dear to Marcellin: “If the Lord does not build the house…”, he invited us to enter together with confidence into this new adventure that is opening up to us. He took the opportunity to present the Council that will support him in his mission of animation and accompaniment: Brothers Bernard Beaudin, Félix Roldan, Jacques Bélisle and Gilles Lacasse; Brother Roger Guertin will be in charge of the District bursar’s office. And he concluded: “Mary, keep us together, brothers and laypeople, united in the same enthusiasm, so that the Marist charism may live on, according to the founding spirit.
And Mgr Alain Faubert concluded this three-day Assembly with the final blessing and the sending off to the mission.
Brother Gilles Hogue