May 25-May 28, 2007. Santa Cruz / San Francisco, California
Villa Maria del Mar Retreat House, Santa Cruz, California
Presenter: Father John Craddock, SM from New Zealand
After 2 national conferences in the US (New Orleans, 2000 and Boston, 2004), this week-end was the first regional gathering of Lay Marists in the US. It was an invitation from the Lay Marists on the West Coast and everyone was invited.
The site that was chosen by Ann Brown (AZ) to host this week-end was the Villa Maria del Mar Retreat House, located right on the Pacific Ocean about an hour and a half south of San Francisco in Santa Cruz. Between the different sessions of talk and reflection, gathering attendees were given time to breath in the fresh salt air and walk on the beach in front of the Retreat House or in the beautiful gardens...
It was a time given to laity to share stories and listen to others as they live their ministries as Marists.
Father John Craddock, SM was the main presenter of the week-end. He has spent thirty years teaching in Marist Colleges and in University Chaplaincy in New Zealand and Solomon Islands. For the last eight years, he has been coordinator of Marist Laity, New Zealand Province, and so works with 60 groups of Marian Mothers and 50 Third Order groups of multi-cultural diversity. He is Superior of Marist Centre, Wellington, a community of eight Marists, where his office is, where the Marist Messenger magazine is published, and where archivists, retreat preachers, and pastoral supply staff reside. He enjoys organizing events, especially pilgrimages in the South Pacific, and has served two seasons as a Chaplain in Antarctica for the National (USA) Science Foundation and auxiliary staff at McMurdo and South Pole Stations. He enjoys keeping fit and active!. He was accompanied by his secretary, Jane Langham who gave a presentation on the Marian Mothers organization and by Anna Paea, Tongan who is the secretary in NZ and teaches at the Tertiary level. Also present to give presentations were the following Marist Fathers: Father Dennis Steik, SM Former Atlanta Provincial returning to the USA from a four month Scripture Study class in the Holy Land; Father Charles Girard, SM author of the large Marist Laity Book , co-author of Like a Bridge and archivist; currently researching “Colin and Oceania” to be presented in Suva, Fiji in August 2007 and Father Edwin Keel, SM –Director of Laity, Atlanta Province and author of numerous Marist articles, reflections and books.
The theme was “MARISTS, BEARING HER NAME” Growing like Jesus, with Mary and Joseph in Wisdom, Stature and Favor with God and People.
The program was the following:
Friday, May 25: check in between 3pm and 6pm - Retreat House – Santa Cruz After dinner: Welcoming – Opening Session – Time for friends-OLD & NEW
Saturday, May 26: Retreat House - morning: 2 presentations given by Fr Craddock; lunch time: quick time given to everyone for prayer and reflection with the opportunity to have lunch and walk on the beach; afternoon: presentation by Fr Craddock; Sharing of Marist Ministries and Missions by: Sr Christina Mac Lean, SMSM talked about a mission opened 2 years ago in Chula Vista, CA. She had felt that the sisters should be addressing the tragedy of human trafficking. 2 sisters were given permission to do some research and found out they decided to open a guest house for women victims of trafficking. A house near San Diego opened in 2005 hosting 4 women. Expectations had to be adjusted because the women needed a lot of time and listening in order to get back on their feet. The sisters are also working on raising public awareness: 700 000 to 2 millions people are being trafficked. Sometimes it is happening in our backyard. These women need to be held gently and need prayer. Ana Paea Showing little videos of the Marist Laity in NZ. There are groups from 19 different parishes and from a wide range of age. The women are wearing uniforms, they pray a but they also like to meet. A mass was held in September, on the Saturday the closest to the birth of Mary or Holy name of Mary in order to bless new members. This year, while preparing the group anniversary (Sep 8th), Ana was asking: what do we want to do? She came up with the idea of recording Marist songs. There are only 2 priests New Zealand born, therefore the gathering of money from the CD will help pick a young man and let him explore the vocation in Tonga. Rosita Martinez Reported about her work with several groups in Matamoros, Mexico. There are four groups that meet regularly. They have various ministries within the church and also in their community. Four of the groups in the different neighborhoods (colonias) meet regularly for bible reflections and sharing. There are other two groups but they still need time to develop and be able to continue on when Rafaela does not accompany them. Projects that they have undertaken are: 1/Prayer for the expecting mothers and visiting all thru pregnancy and at birth. Objective: To get the younger women involve. To reach out to others. 2/Sewing and embroidery and craft works. Objective: Teaching other their talents. Sharing time and talents with each other. Helping others. Using it as a fund raising activity 3/Giving each member of the group a birthday card on their birthday, the card will be done by the group, created from their own imagination. But if anyone else is interested in being part of this networking project, cards can be sent to my address and I will forwarded/deliver to Matamoros . To contact Rosita, click here Fr John J. Sullivan: "In 1968 when I arrived at Star of the Sea Parish in Honolulu the Third Order of Mary was not growing. In fact they had the same leaders for 20 years. I asked them to choose new leaders. Then a wonderful person Ruth Chun started teaching people about the Marist way in her home. She instructed 35 new members each year The numbers from the windward side of the island of Oahu grew so that we had meetings in homes and I began with Mass. A diocesan priest Father Eli Carter formed a group in central Oahu. Some of their group came to the Marist Laity Gathering in New Orleans. A few years after that he died of a heart attack. He was only 51 years old. When I left Star of the Sea Parish in 2004 I asked the new pastor Father Mark del Rosario, SSS to the Spiritual Director of the Marist Laity in Honolulu and he agreed. They had a day of recollection on a Sunday of Lent this year and almost 100 members came from all over Oahu.
Sunday, May 27: Travel to San Francisco to Marist parish / Notre Dame des Victoires - 12:15pm Mass
After the mass, a lunch was hosted by Mary Ghisolfo, principal of the school Notre Dame des Victoires and other Lay Marists with the participations of the Marist Laity from Tonga:
A presentation was given by Fr Craddock, Ana Paea and Jane Langham and the afternoon was free for everyone to explore San Francisco.
Monday, May 28: Final presentation, sharing, closing – departure time 2 PM