Bogotà (Agenzia Fides) - Echoing the dream of Mary of the Passion, born Hèléne de Chappotin, foundress of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (1839-1904), to involve the laity in the evangelizing mission of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM), in 2011 the group of “FMM Lay Associates of Colombia - Ecuador” was born. On that occasion, lay people from Quito, Medellin, Cali, Bogotá, Neiva and Santa Rosa de Cabal were present.
The lay vocation does not appear suddenly, but starts from the growth of each person, from their experience, work, maturity and attitude towards life and reality, underlines the note of the FMM. For this reason, the FMM Lay Associates try to fulfill God's will by making it present in their daily life and, inspired by his Word, as the people of God, carrying out the mission of the Church. This action is based on the presence of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary, on their charisma, on their mission, which has prompted the laity to commit themselves to continue walking as brothers.
For nine years, until 2019, the lay associates met in person, in Santa Rosa de Cabal, a place where they found welcome, affection and motivation to deepen different aspects of the Institute of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, the charism of Mary of the Passion, the spirituality of Francis and Clare of Assisi, the Marian dimension of the Charism, the Universal Mission and the Eucharist as the center of the spiritual life of the FMM. "From each meeting – said the participants - we left strengthened in faith, spirituality and with the firm intention of continuing to walk on the path of service, testimony, love of God and of neighbor".
In 2020, the desire to meet was interrupted by the pandemic, but the lay associates did not lose heart and embarked on the experience of virtual presence, with excellent results: dynamism and creativity, depth of themes addressed, unity in the different community and spirit of brotherhood despite the distance. Mary of the Passion wrote to her sisters: "I give myself entirely to you, despite my crosses, my poor health, my misery. But get up and walk! I beg you, walk in the footsteps of Jesus". Echoing this cry for the following of Christ, the FMM lay associates are committed to continuing this journey together with the religious, at shorter, longer, slower, faster or faster steps, but always determined to continue this pilgrimage. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 21/8/2021)