Volume 23, Number 7 | July 31, 2024

The Disconnect to Reconnect

Many teenagers can’t fathom not having their cell phones in their hands, making TikToks, posting on Instagram, or getting streaks on Snapchat even for one whole day, much less a week. But Summer LIFE is all about a different kind of connection.

“Being in a space centered around God for a whole week without phones and no connection to the outside world was one of the most refreshing and powerful experiences I have ever had,” said Weston Grabow, a senior at Chaminade College Preparatory in St. Louis.

This year’s program centered around a song titled What a Friend by Matt Maher with lyrics like “What a friend we have in Jesus” and His heart is my home.” Program Director Erica Duarte explained that the “theme helped us weave together the ideas of friendship with Christ, our communities, and ourselves. We then tied them to the pillars of the Marianist Charism.”

Dorothy Hansen, a LIFE moderator from Central Catholic High School, was thrilled to see her students absorb these ideas and excited that they want to share them with their classmates. One Central Catholic senior, Nikolai Aleman, put it this way, “One of my main takeaways was realizing that God is our friend. I learned that our relationship with God is to be made like a deep relationship with a great friend.” That realization and many others “were life-changing,” he said.

When Christopher Shaver, a math and theology teacher at Chaminade-St. Louis reflected on his experiences with students at Summer LIFE sessions; he couldn’t help but be moved. “I loved seeing the joyful energy of the students as they sang and danced and became one unified community,” he said.

Shaver served as a LIFE moderator for Session One, which took place June 16 – 21 in Occidental, CA, and as a Coordinating Team member for Session Two, which was held in Dayton, OH, from July 11-16.

Quite a few Marianists participated too. In Session One were Frs. Peter Heiskell and Marty Solma; Bros. Peter Sennert, Chicago Schuller, Mark Motz and Brandon Alana. Session II included Fr. Sean Downing, Bro. Mark Motz, Novices Alex Roman, Pepe Gutierrez, and incoming Aspirant Paul Pruski.

“Students frequently commented about how much they appreciated the opportunity to get to know, spend time with, and learn from our Marianist brothers and priests,” said Duarte.

While the theme and participants for each year’s LIFE program changes, one thing remains the same. “I say this every year, but it is so true. Watching the next generation love God, want to grow in their faith, and build faith-based relationships with others is powerful,” exclaimed Hansen.

In The News

New General Council for the Society of Mary Elected

Superior General, Fr. André-Joseph Fétis (FRA), Fr. Pablo Rambaud (ESP) Office of Religious Life, Bro. Dennis Bautista (USA) Office of Education, and Bro. Abora Jérôme Balakiyema Office of Temporalities (Togo)

At the General Chapter of The Society of Mary, held in Rome this month, Fr. André-Joseph Fétis (France) was re-elected as Superior General. He and the three elected assistants listed below will compose the new General Council.

Fr. Pablo Rambaud, (2nd term) Assistant General for Religious Life (Spain)

Bro. Dennis Bautista, Assistant General for Education (USA)

Bro. Abora Jérôme Balakiyema, Assistant General for Temporalities (Togo)

Join us in congratulating these members of the new General Council, and let us pray that our Blessed Mother guides them in these leadership roles.

Please click here to read the announcement regarding the election from the 36th General Chapter.

Stanley, Meet Chaminade

Florida Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk (’16) posted a photo on social media of himself and his brother Brady Tkachuk (’18), who plays for the Ottawa Senators. The two are seen on the steps of their high school alma mater, Chaminade College Preparatory in St. Louis, bookending the Stanley Cup, which the Panthers won this year.

Tkachuk had the Stanley Cup for an extended amount of time, taking it to several of his hometown hotspots, such as the Budweiser brewery, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, his elementary school Villa Duchesne, local police and fire stations, and an Italian eatery, where toasted ravioli may or may not have been dipped in marinara from Lord Stanley.

To see more pics from Tkachuk and Stanley’s St. Louis visit, click on NHL.com and Florida Hockey Now.

New Office of Sponsorship Coordinator

This Province is pleased to welcome DeDe Barth to the Office of Sponsorship. In her new role as Coordinator, DeDe will assume the responsibilities of the former Marianist LIFE Coordinator as well as offer support to formation programs.

DeDe most recently worked as the operations manager for the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur in Fort Worth, Texas.

Prior to this role, she served as the Director of Campus Ministry at Nolan Catholic High School. During her decade-long tenure there, DeDe developed a passion for the Marianist Charism and, specifically, for the mission of Marianist LIFE.

During her more than 15 years with the LIFE program, DeDe has served as a school moderator, in the Office of Religious Life and Office of Program and, most recently, as a Regional Coordinator. DeDe brings this vast and varied experience with LIFE, along with her perspective as a theology teacher, campus minister, and Mission Integration Team member, to her new role with the Province.

Marianist Ministries in Action

Missionary Priest Drawn to Marianist Education

Fr. Balentine Bawel Talang (LL.M. ’24) was ordained a priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Bangladesh in 2010.

To continue their dedication to a peace and law ministry, the Oblates determined that a younger priest should study to become prepared to carry on this work. So, they decided that Talang should further his studies by concentrating on international law. A fellow priest working in peace and justice for the Oblates in Washington, D.C., suggested Talang consider studying international law at the St. Mary’s University School of Law.

“I decided to come to St. Mary’s University to study law because of the ideals of the Marianists who established the University,” said Talang, who arrived in San Antonio in July 2023 to begin the LL.M. in International and Comparative Law. “The elements that characterize the Marianist approach to education spoke to me, especially educating for service, justice and peace. I knew this was the right place for me.”

The area’s appeal grew even stronger for Talang when he discovered San Antonio’s warm weather, like that in Bangladesh, and friendly people — including the welcoming Marianists he has lived with on campus. “The atmosphere, professors and students all create a family spirit,” he said.

After finishing his St. Mary’s coursework in July, Talang hopes to complete a law internship in New York City before returning to Bangladesh. “I wanted to learn about treaties and international law,” he said. “As a member of an indigenous community in Bangladesh, we find that people are struggling with their rights and even their existence. I wish to continue doing peace and justice ministry when I return home.”

A Marianist Moment

Pilgrimage to Fatima and Lisbon

Many Marianist Pilgrimages center around the Blessed Virgin Mary. The 2025 trip focuses on Fatima, the world-famous Marian shrine located in Portugal. It is where three children, Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia, began to see apparitions of Mary in 1917. Our Lady’s appearance was preceded by an angel, who appeared to the children several times in 1916. The Blessed Virgin appeared on the 13th day of every month between May and October at Cova de Iria. She delivered messages from God, with the overriding message being that all mankind return to God and make reparation for his sins.

Would you like to explore Fatima firsthand and experience Marianist moments? There are only a few spots left for Fr. Tim Kenney’s anticipated pilgrimage to Portugal from March 23 to April 2, 2025.

The trip includes three nights in Lisbon at the Hotel Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboa, a seven-night Douro River cruise, daily mass by Fr. Tim Kenney, lodging, many meals, ground transportation and much more.

Click here for a full itinerary and reservation details.

From the Archives

Celebrating 175 Years of Marianists in America

With Mary as their model, the Marianists arrived in the U.S. in 1849, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to begin building communities of faith. That makes this year – the 175th anniversary – a milestone to celebrate! See the images below for background on the first U.S. Provincial and the start of what is now University of Dayton. If you’d like to read more on Fr. Meyer and the joys and struggles of founding the Society of Mary in the United States, the North American Center for Marianist Studies has a book available. Click here for more information.

If you’d like to see images from the archives, visit and “like” this Facebook page.

Pray With Us

Please join us in prayer for these members of the Marianist Family.

Date unknown
2020

Bro. John Richard Lemker, 91, died on July 4, 2024, in Centerville, OH, with 72 years of religious profession. Bro. John was a beloved teacher, religious formator, and acclaimed photographer whose images appeared in prominent publications such as Time-Life Books and International Wildlife, as well as anchoring Gallery St. John at Mount Saint John in Dayton, Ohio. He considered his work “behind the lens” a form of prayer.

Click here to read his full obituary.

Click here to see pictures of Bro. John through the years.

Click here to see a collection of his photographic artwork.

Each year, the Society of Mary recognizes brothers and priests who are marking milestones of their first profession of vows or their priestly ordinations. Thank you to our 2024 Jubilarians! We will highlight them over the course of the next few months in FamilyOnline. Click here to see pictures from the Jubilee celebration in Cupertino, CA, earlier this month.

BROTHER ROGER BAU

60 Years of profession

Bro. Roger Bau was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on September 1, 1945. He attended Holy Redeemer Grade School and St. John Cathedral High School, graduated from St. Mary’s University with a B.A. in history, Notre Dame University with an M.B.A. in Not-for-Profit Institutions, and Loyola University with a Master’s in Pastoral Studies. Click here to read more.

BROTHER JAMES CONTADINO

60 years of profession

Thank you, Lord, for helping me to choose to remain a Marianist religious, a member of a community of men as part of the larger Family of Mary, consecrated to her, calling others to work together to bring life. With Mary as our model, we are helped to carry in us the care and tenderness that welcomes and heals, the courage to “Do whatever He tells you,” and the faith and endurance to stand at the foot of the cross. Click here to read more.

BROTHER LAWRENCE CORBIN

60 years of profession

Looking back on my 60 years as a Marianist, the one word that keeps coming up is ‘CHANGE.’ Change in the World, Church, Society of Mary, The Province, Community, Ministry, and Self. The only thing that did not change was the Lord’s love for me. There were times when I questioned this love, but Mary would remind me that Her and the Lord’s love was there. Click here to read more.

FATHER TIMOTHY EDEN

60 years of profession

The brothers at Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco were my inspiration for joining the Society of Mary. Their commitment to the students was part of it, but the fraternity they showed us in their life together and the masculine religious tone they gave to the school were what convinced me that I wanted to join them. It is the Society that taught me how to love scripture and has sustained me throughout the years. And it is the Society that taught me to love Mary and appreciate the power of her presence and meaning in the church. Click here to read more.

BROTHER JOHN HABJAN

60 years of profession

I became impressed with the Marianists while a student at Cathedral Latin School. They were a very happy community of Marianists. I can remember them standing on the porch of the Marianist residence laughing. I was thinking of joining the Marianists when a brother encouraged me to do so. I joined a group of students who talked with the Marianists about joining. The rest is history, I went to novitiate in July 1963. I know I still have a lot to learn, a lot to share with my brothers. I am extremely grateful to Mary and to my brothers for all I have learned through my years as a Marianist. Click here to read more.

BROTHER RONALD OVERMAN

60 years of profession

“Now there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of service but the same Lord, and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” That quote from Corinthians sums up much of my life as a Marianist. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities and experiences these past 60 years.

I look upon the experiences and ministries in the past and realize that each one brought unique and gifted people with whom to work. I was blessed to have so many generous people as colleagues. I think the Society of Mary mirrors the quote from Corinthians, we have many gifts and a variety of ways of using them for the ministry of the Church. Click here to read more.

BROTHER THOMAS PIEPER

60 years of profession

What attracted me to Marianist life? The Marianist Brothers and Priests who taught in my high school inspired me to live this life. I liked how they went out of their way to help others, treated everyone as equals and lived a strong faith and community life. They were the teachers who were really alive at the school. They made me and everyone else feel important and worthwhile. I liked how they prayed, lived in community and were very happy with their lives. As I celebrate this 60th year of my Marianist profession, I am so grateful for my Marianist vocation and for the many brothers, family and friends who helped, challenged and walked with me to live this sacred and wonderful Marianist life each day! Click here to read more.

Good to Know

Christmas in July?

Why might Fr. Chris Wittmann sing Christmas carols in the middle of July? The Hawaii Catholic Herald highlights the answer in a one-on-one interview.

“There are many different moods in music. There is a reason why we have minor tones in Advent or Lent. Advent is the season of longing for Christ’s return. Lent is more of a penitential season, but it also has the mood of the Psalms. There are also joyful seasons like Christmas and Easter. I do sing certain Advent or Christmas songs all year long to myself,” admits Fr. Chris.

Click here to discover one of his favorite carols and read the full article that explores keeping body and soul healthy.

One Great Family

“One Great Family: Marianist Fraternity and Inclusion” is a new three-week online conversation group utilizing the documentary “Renewal, Fidelity, and Community: The Society of Mary General Chapter of 1981” (produced by NACMS) to provoke discussion about the roles of fraternity and inclusion in our lives. Participants will watch the documentary before the first conversation and will revisit small portions of it, in addition to reading short articles during those three weeks.

Sessions will be held on Zoom from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Savings Time) on the following Tuesdays: September 10, September 17, and September 24. The cost to participate is $15. Registration is available through the NACMS online bookstore and must be received by Thursday, September 5.

JOIN US!

Click here to discover job opportunities within our Marianist Ministries across the United States. 

New listings include:

• Archbishop Moeller High School (OH) – President

• Mother Seton Academy (MD) – President

• Chaminade College Prep (CA) – Assistant Director of Student Activities

• St. Vincent-St. Mary High School (OH) – Director of Advancement

Check Out More Marianist News

Via Latina from the General Administration of the Society of Mary

Sharing Our Marianist Stories podcast from North American Center for Marianist Studies

Justice Jottings from the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative

AMU Newsletter from the Association of Marianist Universities

District Update #83 from the Marianist District of India

FatherSide Chats is a web video series featuring Fr. Gene Contadino. Discover new episodes every Tuesday about a variety of topics. Click the graphic to view episodes. Click here to read more.

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