The first provincial gathering of prospective, Redemptorist Lay Associates in the London Province took place in the Fisher More Hall of the Redemptorist- run parish of Our Lady of Annunciation, (Bishop Eton) in Liverpool, (UK) from Friday 14th – Sunday 16th June 2019.
In 2017 the Provincial Council invited me to explore the possibility of developing Lay Associates in the London Province. An ad hoc core group of lay men and women, who have been associated with the Redemptorist in different locations in the province, was assembled. We met together with Anne Walsh for the first time at St Mary’s, Perth in June 2017 to begin this exploration.
That first weekend meeting was fruitful with everyone enthusiastic for the project. After a further meeting with the Core Group in the autumn it was agreed that we should invite others to consider the possibility of becoming a Redemptorist Lay Associate.
Over the first few months of 2018 the Redemptorist Lay Associates was launched in three of our Redemptorist locations: Bishop Eton and St Mary’s parishes in Liverpool; St Mary’s parish, Clapham, London, and in the church of St Mary’s Pastoral Centre, Perth, Scotland. With the kind permission of the parish priest I preached at all the Sunday Masses and members of the Core Group were available to meet parishioners afterwards. There was an information meeting in the afternoon.
The initial response to the launch was encouraging and over the past eighteen months, I have met with the three groups on a regular basis. During these session the groups were introduced to the life and times, and spirituality of our two Founders: St Alphonsus Ligouri CSsR (Bishop and Doctor of the Church) and St Clement Hofbauer CSsR (Patron of Vienna). The content of meetings also included input on Prayer, the Eucharist, Our Lady, and developing a Rule of Life.
It was always my hope that the members of the three groups would come together for a provincial gathering with a key facilitator. That hope was happily realised at this provincial gathering in Liverpool.
The Provincial Gathering
In addition to the input and facilitation of Anne Walsh, we were also very fortunate to welcome two other Lay Missioners of the Holy Redeemer, Teresa and Jose, a Portuguese married couple who are currently visiting Redemptorist communities in Europe.
It was wonderful to have them with us to listen their own journey of faith-formation and discernment with the Redemptorists in Portugal and other lay people. Together with Anne they are living witnesses to this exciting reality for Catholic lay people and the Redemptorists working as Partners in Mission.
We welcomed prospective Redemptorist Lay Associates from Liverpool; London, Birmingham and Perth. Together we were about 26 which included Br. William and Br Michael CSsR from the Bishop Eton Community, and two of our youngest members Gabriel (2 years) and Miriam (6 weeks) who attended when the call of sleep and feeds permitted!
Unfortunately, some members of the Core Team prospective RLAs were not able to attend for various reasons. We remembered them in our prayer and at Mass. In particular, we prayed for the repose of the soul of Jo Kavanagh RIP who died recently. Jo was an enthusiastic member of the Liverpool group looking forward to commitment. We remembered also her husband and two young children.
We followed a very full programme from early Friday evening until Sunday after lunch. The themes of the sessions included: The four pillars of Alphonsian Spirituality: Crib; Cross; Eucharist, and Our Lady, and its implications for ministry; Developing a Redemptorist heart; Discerning the way to first commitment. We prayed, celebrated Mass with the group on Saturday, and with parish on Sunday, ate and socialised together!
The weekend helped to develop a shared identity as prospective Redemptorist Lay Associates in the London and a deeper appreciation of the Alphonsian/Redemptorist Spirituality. All who participated expressed their appreciation of what they had received and the opportunity to meet the other groups within the Province. A special word of thanks to the members of the Liverpool group who helped in many practical ways in preparation for and the delivery of the weekend.
With the many blessings the weekend gave us, the groups will continue to meet and prepare for commitment for an initial period of one year. Hopefully, in consultation with the Provincial Council, this will take place in the autumn.
Anyone interested in exploring a vocation as a Redemptorist Lay Associate can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr Maurice P O’Mahony CSsR
Co-ordinator for prospective Redemptorist Lay Associates.
* Anne Walsh is a Lay Missionary of the Holy Redeemer from St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. Anne has worked in close collaboration with the Redemptorists in Edmonton-Toronto for many years. This has now extended to her involvement with the new Province of Canada and the Redemptorist Provinces of North America. Anne is also a member of the General Commission for Partnership in Mission.
Anne, who has a Doctorate in Ministry shares from her deep understanding of the life and the spirituality of St Alphonsus Ligouri and the Redemptorists.