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Brothers Think Tank

The Brothers Think Tank is a group of women and men religious who meet twice annually to address issues related to Brothers and to brainstorm ways of promoting the lay religious vocation for men. The Think Tank is comprised of members from

Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Religious Brothers Conference

National Religious Vocations Conference

Religious Formation Conference

Recent meetings of the Think Tank have been hosted by the Maryknoll community and the Think Tank is scheduled to meet again in June 2014.

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SUMMARY OF THINK TANK MEETING ON DECEMBER 3-4 2013:

Session 1

Opening remarks and introductions. Observations regarding the progress of the Think Tank but some members also voiced concern over how the Brother vocation remains unknown and how some mixed communities downplay the importance of the Brother vocation. Report from Br. Ben regarding his work at CMSM researching formation programs for Brothers in the U.S.  His findings include:

  • Good formation programs stress the value of the Brother to the community and to the Church
  • In some cases efforts to erase differences between Brothers and clerics have diminished the Brother’s identity
  • Brothers are still seen by some as acceptable but not essential to the community and its mission
  • Several mixed communities do not have a specific formation program for Brothers
  • Many young Brothers lack role models and peer support from other lay religious men

Group Dialogue

  • Is there a need to track more specific information on the number of Brothers in formation? No one seems to be doing this at this time.
  • Could Brothers in lay institutes offer insight into how formation for Brothers in mixed communities might be improved?
  • There is a need for a positive identity for Brothers; it is not enough that they are “those who aren’t ordained.”
  • Our challenge is to be able to articulate the fundamental value of the Brother and what it means for the Church

Session 2

Br. William gave a report on the recent meeting between major superiors and Pope Francis in Rome:

  • According to Pope Francis, the canonical prohibition which prevents Brothers from serving as superiors in mixed clerical communities needs to be addressed in tehcontext of Canon Law
  • Pope Francis acknowledged that bishops should not see religious as simply a work force
  • 2015 will be the “Year of Consecrated Life”
  • Pope Francis  observed that the Brother vocation is not well-understood but also stated his belief that Brothers have a future

Br. Ray Kozuch described some of the changes taking place within the RBC and of the work of its board members.

Session 3

Morning Prayer Conversation with Br. Nich Perez, CSC Review of forthcoming documentary BRO: Men With Hope to Bring by Br. Nich Perez, CSC. Members then held a 45 minute Q & A session with Br. Nich who was available via conference call. The premiere of the film will be occurring in the first months of 2014 at a series of film festivals. The audience for the film is primarily young adults and religious should keep that in mind as they watch the film. Once the film is shown at the festivals it will become available for free to anyone who would like to view it. Presentation of two documents from the FSC community Br. Robert shared the major ideas from two recent documents, “The International Young Brothers Assembly” and “Statement of the Young Brothers of the North American Region of the Institute of the Brothers of Christian Schools.” Liturgy

Session 4

Review of the 5-point action plan established at the May meeting of the Brothers Think Tank

  1. Concentrated media promotion of the Brother vocation
  2. Petition CMSM to advocate a Year of Consecrated Life (mission accomplished!)
  3. Letter to major superiors emphasizing the value of the Brother vocation (mission accomplished!)
  4. Develop a one-day pilot symposium on the Brother vocation (postponed pending more planning)
  5. Develop a national symposium on the Brother vocation. (Will coincide with the Year of Consecrated Life in 2015)

Planning for the Year of Consecrated Life

  • Developing a timeline is priority #1
  • Finding a graphic designer or an artist to develop a logo for our activities
  • Submit articles in Catholic magazines
  • Try to get press coverage
  • Social media
  • Participate in FOCUS, NYCY, and the LA Religious Education Conference
  • Diocesan level activities
  • School and college level activities
  • Parish activities

Next Think Tank Meeting

June 16-17 2015