Lay Spiritan Associates: Who We Are
We are an “inspired laity”, moved by the Holy Spirit to serve the poorest of the poor, those who are vulnerable and excluded from society. Our call to ministry comes out of our deep prayer and relationship with God, with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
We are men and women, single and married.
We are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, grandparents and great-grandparents.
- teachers, counselors, engineers,
- school administrators, university administrators and staff, college professors,
- nurses, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, social workers,
- religious education directors, deacons, service professionals
We are a community, in touch with the signs of the times, refusing to be “stuck in the notions of the past”.
We are a community who trusts in the power of the Holy Spirit, and does not offer the least resistance to where the Spirit’s breath may carry us.
We are a community, open to and guided by the Holy Spirit in sharing its life, mission and spirituality.
We are a community, brought together through the prompting of the Spirit
We are a community who opts to serve the most poor, vulnerable and excluded from society, enabling them to break out of the cycle of misery.
We are a community, united in heart and soul.
We are a community of Lay Spiritans Associates, whose interior spirit allows for
- Openness, simplicity and gentleness with each other in
- Working together to build God’s reign of
- Love, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation.
We Believe In:
- Community life which is Christ-centered
- Active apostolic work
- Advocacy for the poor and marginalized
- Ministering to those who others are reluctant to serve
- Mutuality with our professed Spiritan brothers
- Studying the lives of our founders and Libermann’s practical union with God
- Humor, fun and celebration
- Nurturing family life
- Balance of prayer, reflection and outreach
We Dream of:
- Religious and Lay working together out of small Christian Communities.
- Clusters of Lay Spiritans in every region where Spiritans live and work.
- Taking Lay and Professed Spiritans to places where alone we might not go.
Lay Spiritan Spirituality
Lay Spiritan Associates make a commitment to:
- Being present at a deep level with the marginalized
- Sharing materially with those in need locally and globally
- Working locally &/or globally for peace, justice and the integrity of creation
- Participating in inter-religious dialogue
- Living a simple lifestyle.
Spiritual Practices of Lay Spiritans
Prayer: We each make a commitment to personal prayer every day and to communal prayer when we gather together as a community. We engage in meditation, contemplation and Lectio Divina.
Scripture: We reflect on the Word of God every day in solitude, and as a community when we come together.
Spiritual Direction: We seek spiritual direction as individuals.
Apostolic Ministries of Lay Spiritans
Our apostolic ministries emerge out of our prayer life and an understanding of how God is calling us to serve the poorest of the poor in our midst.
Each member is involved in some form of outreach ministry. In choosing a ministry, priority is given to those ministries that particularly reflect the Spiritan Charism such as ministries with people whom others are reluctant to serve, and ministries with those who are the poorest of the poor and who are marginalized within a society or community.
Examples of current Lay Spiritan Associate Ministries include:
- Peasants and school children in rural Haiti (Rich and Daneen Gosser);
- People with disabilities in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda (Anne Marie Hansen)
- War veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress, ex-offenders, men and women experiencing homelessness (Anne Marie Hansen & her OT students)
- School children who are marginalized and underserved (John Hansen);
- College students who are marginalized, international college students and those who feel lonely and depressed (Debbie Zugates); and
- Poor school children and families in rural Louisiana (Judy Stubbs).
Lay Spiritan Associates are also charged with developing new Lay Spiritan Communities. This is done by a designated, experienced Lay Spiritan in conjunction with the new group’s designated Priest member.
Apostolic Ministry Development
Some Lay Spiritan Associates join the Congregation with a ministry that fits the Charism of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in service to the poorest of the poor and/or to people and communities where other workers are reluctant to serve. Suggestions for developing one’s own ministry include:
- Seriously consider your role in an existing Spiritan ministries.
- Look at the feasibility of developing an outreach//ministry appropriate to your skills and abilities.
- Consider engaging jointly with other Spiritans and Lay Spiritan Associates in new collaborative ministries.
Spiritan Priest member for Lay Spiritan Associate Community
A Spiritan Priest serves as a designated member for every Lay Spiritan Community. His appointment to the group is a mutual agreement between the Lay Spiritan Community and the Provincial. The priest member is careful not to assume a formal leadership position in the group. His role is as friend, counselor 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.
After completing the formation program and requirements to become a Lay Spiritan Associate for a term of 3 or more years, he/she faithfully meets together monthly with other Lay Spiritans. This on-going formation program provides an opportunity to share the fruits of our prayer and apostolic ministry, as well as to support and encourage one another. In addition to these activities we
- Study our Spiritan founders
- Invite Spiritans who are serving locally or visiting from a ministry anywhere throughout the world, to share their life story and their ministry,
- Explore new ministries and
- Discuss ways to invite new inspired laity into the Lay Spiritan Associates
Lay Spiritan Associate Collaboration with Spiritans in the US Province
Lay Spiritans participate in the spiritual life of the local Spiritan community as mutually determined, as well as serve on Congregational Committees.
- Faithfully attend Lay Community gatherings.
- Study and reflect on the history of the Congregation and on contemporary issues.
- Dialogue on new approaches to the Spiritan Way coming out of General Chapters.
- Dialogue on the issues raised in Spiritan publications.
- Understand these are an integral part of our Community gatherings.
- Participate in Spiritan renewal days and informal community sharing
- Attending the Spiritan renewal days, engaging in formal and informal affirming and challenging each other at the community gatherings as part of the on-going positive formative processes.
- Spending time visiting, meeting and reflecting with other Spiritans at home, active and retired, and abroad.
- Lay Spiritans are guided by the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the Provincial and his Council.
- Lay Spiritans each write an annual report for the Provincial Council at least once annually, attend annual retreats, Provincial Chapters and assemblies.
Lay Spiritan Associate candidates who have completed a minimum of a two year formation program, a discernment process and have fulfilled other requirements set by the Lay Spiritan Associate leadership team in collaboration with the Provincial and his Council, will be accepted for a three year term. The commitment ceremony takes place during Mass in one of the local Spiritan communities where all are invited to attend. The LSA candidate signs a letter of commitment for all to witness.
Lay Spiritan Commitment – Permanent
After the first three-year commitment, a Lay Spiritan Associate candidate may request an additional two- 3-year terms. When the candidate has completed 9 years, he/she may apply for permanent membership. Membership acceptance is a decision made by the Provincial and the Provincial Council in collaboration with the Lay Spiritan Associate leadership team. The permanent commitment ceremony takes place during Mass in one of the local Spiritan communities where all are invited to attend. The LSA candidate signs a letter of commitment for all to witness.
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. A document clearly negating any legal responsibility of Lay Spiritans for the Congregation of the Holy Spirit or the Congregation of the Holy Spirit for any Lay Spiritan will be drawn up and signed by both parties at the time of commitment.
North American Lay Spiritan Associates
Lay Spiritans meet annually with other Lay Spiritan Associates in North America. Currently, there is group of LSA in the Province of Canada (Quebec) and in the Trans-Canadian Province. The purpose of these gatherings is to share our lives together as LSA, discuss issues of common concern related to justice, peace, integrity of creation and inter-religious dialogue, our ministries, formation and recruitment as well as to have fun together.