A Catholic Monthly Magazine

New Marist Laity Leader Commissioned

Beverley McDonald with her husband Stuart

MM: What background do you bring to this job as Coordinator of the Third Order of Mary and Marian Mothers?

Bev: I have been a Lay Marist since the early 1990’s when I was involved with a group fired with a Marist vision which actively reached out in evangelisation and mission. Some of us went on a pilgrimage to the Marist founding places in France. The sense of being part of Mary’s work and family has never left me. I completed a theology degree at Auckland University, studying mostly at Mt.St Mary’s College, and then completed formation as a spiritual director. Besides all that perhaps the biggest gift I bring is the ordinariness of being a wife, sister, mother, grandmother and lay woman.  I have faced raw life issues like depression, infertility, and the loss of faith from adolescence. Then been graced with faith again only to experience the often fraught reality of being a modern woman in the Catholic Church.

MM: What is it about the Marist Charism that attracted you to this job?

Bev: The radical simplicity of the Marist vision has enormous attraction for me. That sense of being like Mary and supporting the church to draw the whole world into communion with Christ and the Father through radical openness to the Holy Spirit. It centres on Mary’s choice that we be under her mantle where we can breathe her spirit, and look out at the world from her perspective, as instruments of divine mercy. I am humbled to be asked to open up for others this empowering way of living authentic Christian life for the 21st century.  Pope Benedict said “Do not be afraid to open the doors to Christ.” I think Mary is saying the same thing. She loves us as the wounded and broken body of Christ, and she wants to support us, to let us know we are loved and lead us deeper into Jesus, so that we can become her gentle presence for someone else in need of Christ.

MM How will you manage this job while living in Auckland?

Bev:Ten years ago this arrangement would probably have been unworkable but today with all the technology it is like being in the next room. There is travel involved and my husband is a great support. The other critical person in all this is Jane Langham who does an amazing job of the administration and support from Wellington. We are not alone in this. Fr David Kennerley and the Pa Maria Marist Spirituality team are the support and bridge for this and other laity initiatives. It’s team-work and communication that ultimately make it achievable, and our shared Marist spirit helps foster and promote that.

MM. How will you promote the Marian Mothers Groups?

Bev: Our Marist laity Office supports Marian Mothers, with its groups supporting Christian motherhood and family life in the spirit of Mary, including the enrolment of unborn children and babies under the protection of Our Lady of Good Hope. The Third Order of Mary or Secular Marists are where individuals and groups can belong to Society of Mary as laity or secular priests. St Jean Vianney (the Curé of Ars) was a member of the Third Order of Mary, as was Suzanne Aubert for a time.

MM. What are your hopes for these groups?

Bev: The support of the existing groups throughout the country is an important part of my role.  However I sense Mary is doing something new and I also have the brief to explore initiatives to develop the founders’ vision of Laity being a recognised branch within the Marist family. My prayer is that we will be led toward a flexible structure which equips laity with a deep sense of identity with Mary but with the scope for the wide-eyed vision of Fr Colin. It really is a way of being  church accessible to everyone.

MM What parts of your task will receive priority this year?

Bev: My first commitment is the existing lay members but it’s important to begin building towards a more flexible structure of belonging. I would love us to explore ways to support the church in the new evangelisation with true co-responsibility of the laity and development of an enlivened network of groups and individuals in parishes who love and support the church in Mary’s way,

MM: What support do you expect from the Society of Mary?

Bev:The support from the SM and encouragement from all the branches of the Marist family and the church is a wonderful part of what I have experienced in the establishment of this role. The Pa Maria Marist Spirituality Centre and the encouragement of so many lay and religious Marists is another indicator for me that Mary is doing something we can all get on board with.

Bev after Commitment Ceremony. To her left Jane Langham, Fr Pat Devlin (former Director) Fr David Kennerley (Laity Director)

MM: How does your membership of national ecumenical bodies help your new role?

Bev: My work on the NZCBCE and ARCCANZ, and my commitment to my own parish and to spiritual direction, are all for me practical outworkings of being Marist. Commitment to ecumenism is a commitment to Christ and that is at the heart of what it means to be like Mary; to be Marist.

MM: How do people find out about Marist laity?

Bev: The first place to connect might be the website or a letter, email or phone call to us at www.maristlaitynz.org ph.04 4738464 / 88 Hobson St. Thorndon Wgtn 6011 We have resources to support people and/or groups at all stages of awareness of Mary’s call.  If people feel a nudge in their spirit I’d encourage them to make contact. The support of Mary and being called to work with and for her in drawing people into love and experience of Jesus is a tremendously graced way of living the Christian life. What more can I say; get in touch if Mary is calling you.

Ceremonial Kete (basket) used in Commitment ceremony

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