Written by: Bro. Brian Poulin
June 3, 2023 – Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs
For those of us who orient our lives around the academic calendar, June is generally a time of transition. Another school year has ended and summer is beginning, a respite from the normal routines that occupy most of the year. Even a busy summer (as mine generally are) can feel refreshing simply because of its newness.
This June has particular significance for me. As many readers already know, I am concluding this blog series with this final post after almost five years. Furthermore, the Year of Marist Vocations is ending soon, along with several related initiatives, while allowing an opportunity to reflect on what vocational promotion practices to carry forward. Most significantly, I am preparing to move to Texas, a place where I have never lived, and will be among brothers with whom I have also never previously lived. In short, there is both a lot to let go of and a lot to move toward.
Amid these and other transitions, one lifeline to which I cling is the belief that our God is faithful. Even before returning to the Church at the age of 27, I had already received the blessed awareness that I needn’t to worry too much about wherever I might go—I have never wanted for lack of encountering good people. With my adult faith in God, and plugged into the Marist family as I am, this confidence is greater still, as it would be even if I didn’t already have friends and brothers awaiting me in Brownsville, TX.
Every Memorial Day Weekend, the Marist Province of the USA hosts a Marist Youth Gathering that brings together young people and their chaperons from across North America, along with various facilitators and coordinators. As some might imagine, the students are always changing, but many of the adult and young adult faces return time and again. There is always a considerable representation of Marist Brothers present, but most of the essential roles are filled by Lay Marists young and old.
I was speaking with one of the adult team members on the last day of the program—somebody who is rather new to our Marist community—who was very taken by the extent to which our Marist charism lives not only in the Marist Brothers, but also in so many Lay Marists and in the community we create together along with the young people we serve. He already possessed some conceptual understanding of these things, but now he was experiencing it in a powerfully compelling way. Marist Family had become real to him.
I am grateful to be part of this Marist Family, and count myself lucky to have a branch of this family to welcome me in Texas, as well as when I travel to Guatemala, Colombia, and the Philippines later this year. As in any family, we have our differences and misunderstandings at times, but these take place within a deeper context of mutual belonging. How lucky we are.
The theme of this Year of Marist Vocations has been “caring for and generating Marist life.” This is something that all members of our Marist family are called to do in some way or another, whether it means supporting each other or inviting new members into our family, but it also implies the need to practice healthy self-care. I can think of no better way to end this blog series than by echoing the Christian mandate to love others, ourselves, and our God, and to recognize the interrelatedness of these tasks. What better way to care for and generate Marist life?
This month’s ‘ear candy’ is a celebration of new beginnings as we head into another summer and I move on into a post-blog life. The ‘brain food’ reports surprisingly good news on Mississippi’s recent achievements in education while demonstrating the importance of looking beyond our assumptions. What an opportunity to celebrate new life in places that once seemed unlikely!
Ear Candy: “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone
Brain Food: “Mississippi Is Offering Lessons for America on Education” by Nicholas Kristof
That’s it for this blog series! Thank you for your support!