Province of TransCanada
Lay Spiritan Guide
This is what God asks of you;
Only this - to act justly,
To love tenderly and to
Walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
This Guide embodies
An ideal which we can grope for...
But never quite reach.
Lay Spiritan Vision Statement
We envision a community, in touch with the signs of the times, refusing to be "stuck in the notions of the past". A community so trusting of the Spirit, that it does not offer the least resistance to where the Spirit's breath may carry it. A community, open and guided by the Holy Spirit in sharing its life, mission and spirituality.
We envision a community, brought together through the prompting of the Spirit, to give options to those who are most poor, vulnerable and excluded from society, enabling them to break out of their cycle of misery.
We envision a community, united in heart and soul. A community of professed and lay Spiritans, whose interior spirit allows for openness, simplicity and gentleness with each other in working together to build God's reign of Love, Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation.
In Community life which is Christ centred
In active apostolic work
In advocacy for the poor and marginalized
In ministries to which others are reluctant to go
In mutuality with our professed Spiritan brothers
In the study of lives of the founders
In Libermann's practical union with God
In humour, fun and celebration
In nurturing family life
In balance of prayer, reflection and outreach
Of religious and Lay working together out of small Christian Communities.
Of clusters of Lay Spiritans in every region where Spiritans live and work.
Of taking Lay and professed Spiritans to places where alone we might not go.
It is a journey worth making. By walking together with our associate sisters and brothers I believe that we bring enrichment to each other. It is not our institute that matters but the reign of God. To establish it, it is worth replying positively to each sign of the times, to each initiative of the Spirit. And could not the strongest sign of our times be precisely this Journey undertaken with the Associates.
Frans Wijnen, C.S.Sp. 1999
Beginnings of the Lay Spiritans of TransCanada
It was the early nineteen seventies. The second Vatican Council had taken hold. Church groups were gathering to read and study the documents of Vatican II. The laity were recognizing that the church was comprised of "The people of God" and were being encouraged to contribute their talents to the building of the Kingdom of God.
At this time Dermot and Deirdre McLoughlin lived in a very beautiful century old home overlooking the water 100km north of Toronto. Dermot, a physician, was head of a group of Radiologists and both he and Deirdre were very involved in the church and community at large. By North American standards they appeared to have all the trappings of success that were supposed to bring peace, comfort and happiness. Deirdre was very content with her life.
Dermot was troubled, he kept comparing the life they were now living with that of the 8,000 patients with leprosy they had both worked among for two years in Nigeria and with the situations they had seen while living in a condemned tenement apartment building in Glasgow.
He felt God was saying "I showed you Glasgow and the ravages of leprosy and you have become self centered. Over the next few weeks and months, with the help of a spiritual director they mulled over their present status and both knew in their hearts they were to search out the next step of their journey.
On Pentecost Sunday 1974 the then Provincial Father Michael Doyle invited Deirdre and Dermot to consider joining the Spiritans in a new form of membership. Formal acceptance took place at a Provincial Council meeting in early 1975. The call for Lay membership was one of the responses of the Spiritan congregation to the second Vatican Council.
The original Lay Spiritan project was to provide a residential base for the Volunteer International Christian Service (V.I.C.S.) Lay Missionaries and to explore models of varied forms of Spiritan membership. A house was purchased by the McLoughlins - "Ashling House" – to serve as a home for their young family, a place of welcome for those serving with V.I.C.S and a sign of Church — Religious — Lay People, single and married, all united to serve Him who must always be its centre. The experiment of Ashling House as a base for Volunteer International Christian Service did not work out due to differing perceptions and was abandoned one year later.
Further discernment with their spiritual director resulted in the house becoming Ashling Community and House of Hospitality. People came to the house for liturgies, for meals and just to talk. In 1977 Margaret Laffey became Lay Spiritan and came to live at Ashling. She was to stay for 14 years, before moving on to be professed as a Good Shepherd Sister. Ashling House was the home of the McLoughlin family and Margaret. It was a lively home with four growing boys. Two rooms in the house were made available for people who, for some reason or other, needed a place to stay. For those who wished there was night prayer and every Thursday a gathering of the Lay Spiritans with their designated Spiritan Priest member for prayer and in depth communal sharing of strengths, weaknesses, hopes and dreams. Ashling House ended as the focal point for the Toronto Lay Spiritans when the McLoughlins decided to move to Sioux Lookout to pursue their ministry with the Aboriginal community.
Over the subsequent decades since the formal commitment of the founding TransCanada Lay Spiritans, the number of Lay Spiritans gradually increased, first exclusively in Toronto and later in Hamilton. With the relocation of two couples from Toronto to Northern Ontario and Winnipeg, there are currently three clusters of Lay Spiritans – in Toronto, Hamilton and Sioux Lookout/Winnipeg. All have chosen their mission, based on their commitment to the Spiritan charism and on the opportunities they see to live this charism in their lay lives. All are engaged with ministries which reflect a preferential option for the marginalized or ministries where others are reluctant to go. These ministries include living and doing health training and advocacy work with the Aboriginal community, crisis counseling, geriatric care, immigrant and refugee support work, peace and justice-related education, medical ethics, legal aid, literacy training and personal witness in the workplace and community. Some of this work has been done in direct collaboration with professed confreres, for example organizing orientations and re-entry sessions for VICS volunteers, serving as TransCanada coordinator for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation and serving on advisory committees for the health and residential needs of aging confreres. They see the role of Lay Spiritans as a ministry in its own right, as co-responsible for the mission of the Church as outlined at the Second Vatican Council and articulated at the Maynooth General Chapter and complementary to that of the professed.
"The Lay Spiritans is something important for the whole congregation, because since the Chapter of 1968, we have been thinking about how to extend the membership of the congregation to others who would like to share with us in the inheritance of Libermann without restraining them by the traditional forms of membership. We did this because wethought it was God's will that we should look for such a way." Superior General Frans Timmermans speaking at a Lay Spiritan commitment service in Toronto, ON, 1977.
Formation and Expression of Spirituality
A desire to become a person of prayer and a willingness to make time for it.
Reflection on the word of God in solitude and shared in Community.
Attempting to see the face of Christ in everyone we meet.
An openness to spiritual direction with a person who is right for each individual.
Faithfulness to making an annual retreat.
The freedom for Lay Spirituality has evolved from the laity. We express gratitude that the Congregation has never attempted to determine the expression of our Spirituality.
Being present at a deep level with the marginalized.
Material sharing with those in need locally and globally.
Working for local and global peace and justice concerns.
Simplification of lifestyle.
Initial and Ongoing Formation
Faithfulness to our Lay Community gatherings.
Study and reflection on the history of the congregation and more particularly on contemporary issues.
Dialogue on new approaches to the Spiritan Way coming out of General Chapters.
Dialogue on the issues raised in Spiritan Publications.
Reflection on these should become an integral part of our Community gatherings.
The presence of a designated Spiritan priest member for each Lay Spiritan Community.
His appointment to the group will be by mutual agreement between the Lay Spiritan Community and the Provincial. The priest member will be careful not to assume a formal leadership position in the group. His role will be as friend, counsellor and guide. He will provide sacramental ministry when his priestly services are called for by the Community. In extreme situations, his presence will safeguard the Spiritan integrity of the group.
Attending the Spiritan renewal days.
The formal and informal affirming and challenging that occurs at our regular Community gatherings is one of our most positive formative processes.
Spending time to visit, meet and reflect with other Spiritans at home and abroad.
Lay Spiritan Membership
To become a Lay Spiritan, one must fulfil the following criteria:
1) to live as a committed Christian, that is, be baptized in the Catholic faith, observe the values of the Gospel, and be a messenger of hope;
2) to have acquired a sufficient degree of maturity, that is, to have achieved a sound mental equilibrium and taken responsibility for one's civil status (married or single);
3) to be financially independent;
4) in the case of a couple, to be committed within the association as a couple, or as an individual with the explicit consent of the spouse.
1. The Lay Spiritan form of membership is open to all Catholics (over age 21) who meet the discernment criteria above and have completed a prescribed one year probation period. The format for that year will be decided by the local Lay Spiritan Community in consultation with their designated priest member.
2. The candidate makes a formal written application to the Provincial, who initiates an inquiry.
3. When the Provincial feels that a person is a suitable candidate, he requests that one of the Spiritans (Priest or Lay) propose to the Provincial Council the acceptance of the candidate.
4. A Lay Spiritan's final acceptance comes from the Provincial Council.
5. The initial commitment is for a period of three years, as is any second commitment.
6. After six years the person may make further three-year commitments or apply for permanent Lay Spiritan status.
7. The same application procedure applies for all commitments.
8. Lay Spiritans work on Congregational Committees.
9. The Lay Spiritans are expected to make reports to the Provincial Council at least once annually.
10. Lay Spiritans are expected to attend Provincial Chapters.
11 Lay Spiritans are expected to be guided by the prompting of the Spirit and the Provincial and his Council.
Lay Spiritan Commitment
1. Lay Spiritan Commitment - Three Year Term
Father Provincial, I request that you accept my three-year commitment to work within the Spiritan congregation. If accepted I promise to work with Spiritans in the building of God's Kingdom of Love and Justice and Peace.
2. Lay Spiritan Commitment – Permanent
Father Provincial, I request that you accept my permanent commitment to work within the Spiritan congregation. If accepted I promise to work with Spiritans for the rest of my days in the building of God's Kingdom of Love and Justice and Peace.
It is anticipated that Lay Spiritans will not be a financial burden on the congregation. They are expected to provide for their own financial security.
1. Life circumstances permitting each member should be involved in some form of outreach ministry. In choosing these, priority should be given to those that particularly reflect the Spiritan Charism:
(a) Ministries into which others are reluctant to go.
(b) Ministries which show a preferential option for the marginalized.
2. Lay Spiritans should first seriously consider if they have a role in existing Spiritan outreaches.
3. Lay Spiritans should also look at the feasibility of setting up outreaches appropriate to them.
4. Lay and professed Spiritans should also consider engaging jointly in new collaborative ministries.
5. A major outreach should be the setting up of new Lay Spiritan Communities. This should be done by a designated, experienced Lay Spiritan in conjunction with the new grouping's designated priest member.
We pray and trust that the Holy Spirit, who has moved and guided our Provinces thus far, will continue to work in our midst.
Wherever we are being led, we pray that through the weakest and strongest we will be united and caring.
With love and concern for one another, we can with peace and harmony be free like Libermann's feather to be blown where God wills.
O Divine Spirit, Love One Another
I want to be before you
like a light feather, Love Unconditionally
so that your breath
may carry me where it will, And do not resist the Spirit
and that I may not offer
the least resistance to it. John Paul II
Francis Liberman Winnipeg 1984