by Lorna Gold, LSM Board Chair
LSM’s Board of Directors recently concluded a grace-filled annual retreat and meeting in Assisi, the magical hometown of St. Francis. Our time together was marked by the great company of “sister snow” and gorgeous clouds hanging over the valley below the town, which helped us dive deep into the spirituality of Laudato Si’.
It was the first in-person meeting of the Board after 3 years due to the pandemic, and was an occasion for some important discussions and decisions about the future of our beloved movement. The Board pondered the extraordinary development of the movement in the last three years, whilst acknowledging the challenges such rapid growth can bring. The past years have seen the evolution of over 40 national chapters, on top of local chapters and LS Circle groups that also keep popping up in all corners of the globe. We rejoiced and thanked God for the many animators of those national and local processes, for their tireless efforts to bring Laudato Si’ to life across the world. We expressed deep gratitude to God, and to the Secretariat and membership of LSM, for this inspiring growth.
In light of this explosion of life, the key discussions and decisions at the Board meeting were informed by the discernment process which has been underway since July 2022 (see announcement “Walking Together – Embedding Synodality in LSM’s Leadership Bodies”). This work is being led by a special Synodality Discernment Taskforce composed of members from our different leadership bodies, and supported by external consultants, PIRON. Over the past months the Taskforce has been busy discerning and working towards proposals to strengthen organisational governance and make our structures more synodal. The Board had the opportunity to discuss the first outputs of this ongoing process in Assisi.
1) AFFIRMING OUR IDENTITY AND DEEPENING IN-PERSON ENCOUNTERS
A first point that emerged strongly from the Board meeting is the identity of LSM as a Catholic movement rooted in the ‘charism’ of Laudato Si’, namely integral ecology. The Board considered an LSM Identity draft paper from the Taskforce (to be refined and socialized in the near future) and welcomed the clear focus on strengthening the deep spiritual roots of the movement.
This conversation highlighted the importance of deepening the spaces for in-person encounters in our movement and strengthening spiritual accompaniment. The pandemic, the rapid growth and the online nature of much of our networking have generated particular challenges for a movement rooted in encounter with God, nature and each other. The Board proposed that in the coming two years a major focus should be on generating opportunities to deepen in-person encounters with a view to building and consolidating the local foundations of the movement (Circles, Chapters).
2) TOWARDS A GLOBAL ENCOUNTER – PENTECOST 2025
In light of the forthcoming 10th anniversary of Laudato Si, the Board and Secretariat proposed that this focus on in-person encounters could culminate in convening our first face-to-face Global Encounter on Pentecost 2025, which will also include our first General Assembly within its program. It will be a festive celebration of the “Laudato Si’ Double Anniversary” of 2025 – 10 years of the encyclical and 800 years of the Canticle of the Creatures – as well as our movement’s 10th birthday. Whilst full details of this encounter will need to be worked out, it is envisaged that it would involve a major event in Assisi, the birthplace of Laudato Si’, with numerous synchronized events in different locations to enable as many people as possible to take part.
This Global Encounter and General Assembly are envisaged as much more than an event. It is envisaged as a process of encounters at all levels, a true pilgrimage in which what matters the most is the journey. It will be a beautiful ensemble of our diverse regional perspectives, each enriching the whole with the lessons learned so far from animating an ecological conversion in our respective geographies.
More consultations will take place in the near future to shape this process. In the meantime, save the date for Pentecost 2025! (June 8th)
3) DEEPENING PARTICIPATION & DECENTRALIZATION
The Discernment Taskforce is continuing to work on ways to make our structures more participatory and decentralised, while being attentive to avoid making them overly bureaucratic. The Board concluded that whilst there is an outline of a new governance structure emerging, any significant changes to structures will require further discernment, particularly with the movement grassroots. Aided by more consultation to take place in the coming months and then via the preparatory process of the 2025 Global Encounter, the Taskforce will now look into ways of enhancing participation and decentralization across the movement.
The Board reaffirmed its clear intention and commitment to the principle of subsidiarity, and the need to strive to further empower and support our chapters and members to lead in their respective contexts and territories. Our longstanding commitment to “unity in diversity” remains a guiding principle in this regard. With climate disruption and ecological breakdown accelerating in all corners of the globe, we reaffirm our commitment to a participatory and decentralized approach as the way to go – whilst coordinating actions at a global level when necessary.
4) REFRESHING LSM BOARD LEADERSHIP
A number of changes of board membership were formalised at the Assisi meeting – whilst others will take place within the next year:
- Amanda Hanley (US), who has been Secretary of the Board since 2017, ended her second term on the board. Her critical role and generous dedication to LSM’s still-foundational stage of these past few years cannot be stressed enough. We owe her huge gratitude and pray for the next steps of her service to our common home.
- Analisa Ramsahai (Trinidad and Tobago), from the Franciscan Institute for Personal & Family Development, has agreed to step up as Secretary to the Board. We are extremely grateful to Analisa, who has served as a youth representative in the Global Membership Council for a few years, and on the Board since 2021, for taking on this important task.
- Four founding board members will come to the end of their second terms at the end of 2023. This will create vacancies on the board, open to members of the movement who feel called to step forward and serve the movement in these leadership roles. The board, and its sub-committees, requires a whole range of skills on an ongoing basis (e.g. fundraising, executive level experience in organizational management, not for profit law, human resources) and is committed to ensuring geographic diversity and gender balance on the board. A particular need for the board in the coming months is for a new Treasurer (this position has to be US-based as a legal requirement), given the current mandate coming to an end. If you would like to put your name forward or nominate someone to be on the board of LSM, please contact [email protected] for more information. Alongside board membership, which is entirely voluntary, the LSM Secretariat has a number of salaried leadership opportunities advertised on the website which may be of interest to members.
We hope you can join us for our next Global Online Encounter, on February 18th (Saturday) at 2pm Mexico / 5pm Brasilia / 9pm Rome / 3am Manila (Feb 19th) / 8am Fiji (Feb 19th), when we will have a chance to discuss these developments further. Please save the date.
In the meantime, let’s keep walking together in this LSM journey and let’s pray for the Synodality Discernment process to bear abundant fruit. Laudato Si’!
Bravo to the Board for all the hard work to maintain the spirit and “charism” of LSM! Onward!
Thank you for the helpful information.
Item 3 – Deepening Participation and Decentralization – rings true to me. That is what we are exploring in our LSM Chapter discernment in Brisbane Australia. 🙂
Thank you for this information. Congratulations Analisa for stepping up as Secretary to the Board. Fantastic news.