What is Montfortian Gabrielite Partnership (MGP)?
The 29th General Chapter gifted us with the idea of partnership and it suggested that we could realize the partnership in four stages:
- Formation to leadership and partnership;
- Sharing of the Montfortian Gabrielite charism;
- Sharing of the Montfortian Gabrielite mission;
- Sharing of our identity and way of life. (29th G.C. 2.9).
Various Forms of Montfortian Gabrielite Partnership
- Collaborators are lay people who work with the Brothers or the persons with whom the Brothers work. They share our mission in various degrees according to the quality of their commitments, their competencies, and their sense of mission.
- Certain collaborators wish to commit themselves to a greater degree in the missionary project (in a wide sense of meaning) of the Brothers of St Gabriel. This occurs only within the framework of a voluntary choice. It is open to any person of good will, Christian or not. They are partners in the educational project of the Brothers worldwide.
- The Institution may call some lay people to share responsibilities (leadership, management, administration, etc.).
- Other people, not necessarily sharing our mission, are interested in Montfortian charism and spirituality. They are “Montfortian Associate Members”.
- Others, yet, desire to live close to the Brothers by sharing their community life. For some, this life sharing can reach the desire of sharing the identity with the Brothers by a personal religious commitment in the Congregation. They become members of the Congregation.
- Finally, others who are collaborating in our mission actively or remotely like organisations (NGOs, Associations, International Organisations…) with which we work in a particular way in the fields of development, justice, peace and integrity of creation. This is called networking.
The context of Montfortian Gabrielite Partnership
We see more and more, today, the awareness of the personal dignity and freedom, of rights and equality, among the people. There is a desire for democratic participation in planning, decision making and execution. Many feel that participation will not be authentic and meaningful if it is not lived through sharing in planning, decision-making and execution. Here and there, we see protests against hierarchical domination in the society. Similar moves are noticed for participation among the subaltern groups like immigrants, Dalits, minorities and women. Hence there arises the need to respect secularism and pluralism of identities. This leads to a plural, participative democracy.
Today, laypeople want to be partners in the life and mission of the Church and not merely servants or helpers or even collaborators. There are various reasons for it.
A new paradigm in the Church
In the light of the dignity and equality of all Christians, the role of the clergy and the religious is facilitation and coordination, not domination, representation or mediation. These individuals are only functionally different and not essentially different. We all understand that the universality and diversity of charisms is for the service of community (1 Cor 12); leadership is also a special charism, but not a title for special honour or power. Those persons in leadership are recognized and set apart for a role by the community but not separated.
The existence of associate groups (one form of partnership) has been a growing reality within the Church over the last 50 years. As a result of Vatican II’s invitation to renewal, interest was sparked in ways of connecting and living common charisms through different lifestyles. Associate groups formed as laypersons and members of religious Congregations found in one another a shared attraction to an Institute’s charism and mission.