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Answering readers’ questions in this issue is Father Quentin Hakenewerth, S.M., former superior general of the Society of Mary, now living in Mexico. Questions not appearing in the print edition are listed first.
How can we graduates from Marianist institutions foster that same sense of community we experienced in college with our colleagues in our professional life? —ANDRES GREETS ’06, PHILADELPHIA
I believe at least two elements are necessary to build Marianist community: a common experience of God — truth and goodness — and a common project of helping others in Mary’s name. Share our faith in such a way that the presence of God and Mary is felt and express that goodness in doing good for others.
What role do you see for the Society of Mary in the struggle for the rights and dignity of women in society and in the church? —BROTHER BILL FARRELL, S.M., SANTA FAZ, CHINAULTLA GUATEMALA
We men in the Society of Mary have a special relationship with Mary, the Mother of Jesus. In our consecration we try to love her with the love of Jesus, and we hand over our life to her to help her in her mission. We consider her as much greater than ourselves, never as equal or less than we are. We treasure her purity and her faithfulness in the Holy Spirit. We Marianists should treat all women with this same attitude. As Marianists, what we do to any woman, we do to Mary.
In the U.S., Marianists refer to the three founders: Chaminade, Adele and Marie Therese. In other countries Marie Therese is not considered a founder. Do you consider Marie Therese one of the founders of the Marianist Family? If so, why; if not, why not? —PATI KRASENSKY, PHILADELPHIA
Mother Therese de Lamourous was a consecrated member of the Marian Sodality of Father Chaminade, who was her spiritual director. They had a great spiritual influence on each other. Marie Therese was sent by Father Chaminade to help form the first F.M.I. [Daughters of Mary Immaculate] community in Agen. She helped form the community but was never a member of it. Mother Therese was a foundress, but of a work and mission very different from that of the Sodality, the F.M.I. or the S.M. — all part of the Marianist Family. She founded the Misericorde, an independent work (freeing prostitutes from their former life) that eventually became a religious congregation with a spirituality of divine mercy, quite distinct from the Marianist spirituality. She did not want to found a province, only an independent house. When the bishop of Lavalle, France, asked her to found a community there, she sent four sisters for three years to found another independent community and then return to their community of origin. The same happened with Lavalle and Paris. From Paris a community was founded in Poland, which became a province and a new religious congregation — the Sisters of Divine Mercy. Saint Faustina Kowalska is a member of that congregation. The spirituality and mission of the Misericorde are clearly distinct from the spirit and mission of the Marianist Family. Perhaps we are spiritual cousins?
How would you suggest that the Marianist system of virtues be handed on to University faculty and associates? —TED CASSIDY ’60, CLEVELAND
I believe that the manner suggested by Father Chaminade is still valid. (1) First we need a clear idea of what the particular virtue is and what it does for us. We might learn this as much by group reflection as from the instruction of some expert. The Holy Spirit is at work in the group. (2) Once we have a clear idea of what we want, we need reflective prayer to motivate us. The virtues mean nothing if we are not motivated to change, to really want to grow in the virtue. (3) After beginning to practice the virtue we need frequent examination of our experience of living the virtue. This is especially effective when done in a group where we know each other. Father Chaminade named these three elements instruction, meditation and examen. In all three steps, count heavily on the action of the Holy Spirit.
With the Church’s current emphasis on evangelization, what would you advise as the best way for young people today to develop a personal and vibrant relationship with our Blessed Mother Mary to become in turn evangelizers in their families, with friends and colleagues, and through whatever ministry of profession they choose? —MELBA FISHER, SAN ANTONIO
Evangelization and the Mother of Jesus — what’s the connection? Well, evangelization means communicating the good news about Jesus. If we want to share the good news about Jesus, we have to know Jesus — not just the doctrine about him, but know his person, live his presence. Now imagine what it would be like to live with his Mother in order to get to know Jesus. We can do what the beloved disciple did when Jesus gave his Mother to him. He took her into his own life. If we take Mary into our home, into our heart and live with her, we come to know Jesus in a very personal way. That makes it easy to talk about him to others; just tell them about your experience.
Is there a particular moment in the lives of Jesus and Mary that inspires you most at this time in your life? —JUDY MCKLOSKEY ’67, EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN.
Two moments particularly inspire me. The first is when Jesus gives his own power and authority over evil to his disciples. What trust on the part of Jesus, and what love to share his very being in this way with his disciples! When I am able to see myself among those disciples, I am deeply moved. The second moment is when Jesus gives his own Mother to the beloved disciple on Calvary. When I can see myself as the beloved disciple, I am awed and highly motivated to live my life consecrated to Mary for others.
In your experience, what has been the Society of Mary’s response to “the fundamental option for the poor” in its apostolic commitments and its own modis operandi? —BROTHER BILL FARRELL, S.M., SANTA FAZ, CHINAULTLA, GUATEMALA
The Society of Mary has always had some works dedicated to the poor. It has always had a minority of members directly dedicated to the poor. The Society of Mary as a whole has never made the poor the determining point of all of its works or of the life style of all its members. We have always had some inspiring examples of members and individual works dedicated to the poor, but not a “Society of Mary” dedicated to the poor. I believe the same is true of the Church, something which Pope Francis would like to see change.
You have been quoted as saying that “We really need holy Marianists in this day and age.” How would you operationally define a “holy Marianist”? —BROTHER TOM FARNSWORTH, S.M., DAYTON
For me, a holy Marianist is a person imbued with the experience of being the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross, receiving Mary into his life and dedicating everything to her mission. This grace of the Holy Spirit (charism) shapes his/her personality and his/her life of service to others.
The following questions and answers appeared, in somewhat shorter form, in the print edition of the University of Dayton Magazine.
Pope Francis has been noted for his personal simplicity as well as his strong passion for the poor. How would you like to see the Marianist family live this out? —BROTHER BRANDON PALUCH, S.M. ’06, DAYTON
Our concern for the poor should change not only the life of the poor but our lives as well. The most effective means to bring about this change is to look into the eyes of a poor person. If we do that, much will change for us and consequently for the poor. When was the last time you looked a poor person in the eye?
What have you learned from living in the Mexican culture for 17 years? —FATHER THOMAS SCHROER, S.M. ’65, DAYTON
A number of convictions have formed in me during my years in Mexico. I don’t know if they are correct, but I will mention three: (1) The greatest cause of poverty that I have experienced is corruption — taking advantage of power or position to exploit others for one’s own good. A good example is education where money and job security reigns more than the good of the students and competency of the teachers. The Teachers’ Union aims to benefit the teachers, not the students. (2) Popular religion is strong [among] good people with strong emotional attachment to religious practices but often without much understanding or commitment to the person of God and neighbor. The great need is evangelization to bring Jesus and his message to people in a new form. Jesus said to Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “The poor don’t know me, and therefore don’t want me.” (3) One cause of illegal immigration is the disparity of wages between Mexico and the USA. The minimum wage in the U.S. is at least nine times that of Mexico. In five years an illegal immigrant can save enough money to put his kids through school and pay for a small house. I have had a lot of contact with illegal immigrants in Mexico. I celebrated three funerals of young men who died in the desert of New Mexico. I do not know how to bring about a parity of wages, but I am convinced it would greatly reduce the immigration problem.
From your experience in Rome, do you think Pope Francis will be able to make lasting changes in the Vatican bureaucracy? —JUDY MCKLOSKEY ’67, EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN.
What I understand as bureaucracy is a governing structure in which exercising and prolonging one’s authority for its own sake is a primary purpose. It seems to me that this depends on two elements: the structure of the authority and the morality of those who exercise authority. Concerning the first element, the cardinals in the consistory before the election of Pope Francis clearly gave to the future pope, whoever it would be, the task of restructuring the exercise of authority in the Vatican. For example, more dialogue between the Sacred Congregations in the Vatican, more direct access to the pope, more direct dialogue with bishops’ conferences. Pope Francis has already indicated that this is what he wants. Yes, I believe some changes will be made. The second element consists of the attitude and morality of the people named to exercise the authority in the Vatican. I have great confidence that Pope Francis will make good choices — although he has to work with what is available.
You wrote a wonderful book entitled A Manual of Marianist Spirituality. What would you share as the most salient or important point/insight in that book? —BROTHER TOM FARNSWORTH, S.M., DAYTON
Of course, I think all the points are important! However, the one that had a notable influence on me is “presence.” Presence is a conscious way of being with someone that makes a difference. Presence changes something in the person to whom we are present. If you are in a group and nothing changes in any of the group — awareness, emotions, ideas, desires — you really are not present to them. If someone enters the room where you are and nothing changes in you, that person is not present to you. Now apply this to God in your life, to Jesus or to Mary, and you will begin to notice the tremendous importance of presence. Perhaps that is why Jesus said to his Father concerning his disciples: I want them to be present with me where I am.
As you look over the many years you have been a Marianist, what stands out as the most significant/impactful events in our history? What concerns do you carry about the future of the Society and the Daughters of Mary? —VICTOR FORLANI, S.M. ’65, DAYTON
I think the most impactful change in the history of the Society of Mary (and of all religious congregations dedicated to apostolic works) has been the shift from administering and operating works (schools, hospitals, etc.) to animating them with our spirit and charism. In some ways this has been forced upon us by aging and the paucity of new members. But I believe it is much deeper than that. Our role as religious in the church is shifting. The requirement for administering or operating a school is a professional degree. The requirement for animating or sponsoring a school is sanctity — living and communicating an experience of God, of the Holy Spirit, of the Mother of God. My concern for the Society of Mary is that, in general, we still think and feel in terms of administering and operating works, and we are not yet focused as a Society on the experience and communication of our charism as our main purpose.
In today’s modern age, there are so many distractions. What practices do you find most helpful for your spirituality? —ANDREW GERBETZ ’06, PHILADELPHIA
Blessed Chaminade gave us a virtue called “recollection.” It might also be called “focus” because it focuses our attention and our energies on living the present moment. This allows us to do well what we are doing and to enjoy more fully what we are doing. Our energies are more efficient and we experience the harmony and peace of Jesus within us. Distractions are usually a question of trying to do too many things at the same time, or to live in the past or the future (which is not reality). Distractions give us a sensation of division or tension within and frustration of not completing well any of the several things we are experiencing.
For our next issue, ask your questions of Crystal Sullivan, director of UD’s campus ministry. EMAIL YOUR QUESTION TO MAGAZINE@UDAYTON.EDU.