llamaThis past month in April a group of lay people and religious met in Madrid to become more closely acquainted with the structure and content of the Formation Plan, “Keep the flame alive, share the gift.”


We were led to an in-depth understanding of the Plan in order to promote it in the Provinces of Europe and Africa.  The group consisted of one Albanese, two French, one Italian, one Catalan, one Paraguayan and one Congolese. 


Esther Lucia Awad and Arantza Zabaleta, members of the Bordeaux Project made a presentation filled with enthusiasm, passion and depth.  We were all greatly motivated and encouraged to participate in the experience and to share it in our respective countries. 


We admired the comprehensiveness and ingenuity of this Formation Plan that contains all the dimensions of the person: human, spiritual and apostolic.  It invites one to initiate a true spiritual adventure.


These days also offered us the opportunity of a “community” experience, inviting us to strength our bonds as a group.   



Keep the flame alive… share the gift: a call and a mission 


To see a shared dream becoming a reality fills our hearts with enthusiasm and hope, since it allows us to become participators in the construction of a new phase in our history as Company of Mary.  



Starting the Plan of Formation “Keep the flame alive, share the gift” in the Province of Mexico has been a significant event for the 37 educators  – 25 laity and 12 religious – who met together at Villa Lestonnac in the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, with the purpose of beginning this experience. 


 Cristina Sanz, the Provincial Superior, in her opening address highlighted, among other aspects, how enriching it was to be able to have formation together and the responsibility we have to keep the flame that we have received alive, in order that with gratitude we may spread it and contribute so that Jeanne de Lestonnac’s Project may continue to be alive today and our world may be a little more human, more just and with more solidarity.


After a detailed presentation of the different aspects involved in this Plan, she invited the participants to reflect personally on “Why am I beginning this formation?” “What do I hope to gain from the experience?”




After that, in three groups formed by those who belong to the different geographical zones which have been organized to carry out the process, each participant was able to share his/her reflection and experience.


In the plenary session, one could see the convergence and the unity in the feedback which, when shared, enriched everyone.


 Expectations coincided and were intertwined:


“we want to absorb the Project, to grow as persons and to infect others each from our own role; to open our hearts to the experience of God, to meet together and share our enthusiasm”, “to give meaning to our life, to recognise our gifts and contribute them; to study in depth the Project of Jeanne de Lestonnac”… And there were many more desires which must gradually become reality among us over the next three years.


 The Plan was greatly valued as: “an occasion for personal growth and the search for interior life,  for becoming an integrated person, a person of integrity to communicate what has been received and to become better”; “a call to contribute to the building of the Kingdom and to transmit it to others”; “an opportunity to experience passion for the encounter with God, relating to others through education for the good of our society”; “the occasion to continue to study deeply the charism and the Educational Project of the Company of Mary and make it our own…”


Starting this formation process coincides with an important juncture in the process of the schools in the Province: the beginning of the new Team of Educational Management which, among other objectives, intends to promote the life of each centre by strengthening its identity as Company of Mary.


At the end of the meeting, along with the folder and the first study guides, we carried with us the enthusiastic conviction that we had started a journey which, step by step, will help us to “Keep the flame alive and share the gift”.




Guadalajara, Mexico


27th April 2013





FORMATION PROGRAM. Order of the Company of Mary Our Lady


After several years of work, the Bordeaux Project has placed at the disposition of the Provinces the WORLDWIDE FORMATION PROGRAM. This program responds to the request of the XVI General Chapter 2009:  “Create a formation and in depth reflection program for lay people and religious on the identity, spirituality and educational project of the Company of Mary that will help live the Charism, strengthen unity, the sense of belonging and a shared mission.”Mantener la llama


The program is built around three interconnecting core themes:  personal integration, experience of God and commitment to the transformation of history.   All of this in light of a particular way of understanding the person, living the gospel and apostolic commitment: that is, the style of Jeanne de Lestonnac, the spirituality and pedagogy of the Company of Mary.


The content is divided into three key concepts: BEING A PERSON, BEING WITH OTHERS, BEING WITH OTHERS AND FOR OTHERS.   Each concept contains different topics, accompanied by a guide for reflection, assimilation and adoption.



The suggested materials are prepared with a three year period of work in mind, a concept per year.   The methodology suggested emphasizes personal reflection that includes, at times, opportunities for gathering and sharing.  Aware of our worldwide dimension, our desire is that this material be adapted to the reality in each region and to the characteristics and needs of diverse groups.  









The first meeting of the Bordeaux Project Liaisons took place on January 13 – 17, 2011 in Valle de Bravo (Mexico).  There were 17 participants: members of the General Team and the Coordinating Committee, Liaisons from various provinces and other religious whose participation was felt to be opportune.

At the meeting we reflected and addressed the following objectives:

  1. Share the development of the Bordeaux Project from its beginnings up to the present moment, thus gaining greater insight of its importance and sharing the resonances the Bordeaux Project is having in each context: expectations, demands, suggestions….
  2. Complete the final draft of “The Common Educational Project of the Company of Mary” Keeping in mind the suggestions from the Provinces.
  3. Share the 400 anniversary celebration of the Feast of the Child Mary in each region.
  4. Presentation of the “A draft plan of the Formation program for Company of Mary educators,” and decide on how to continue preparing it.
  5. Present the “Resource Center” and continue working towards its implementation.
  6. Information regarding the most important aspects of Art, Humanism and Spirituality.
  7. Put the program into effect up to the General Assembly, July 2012.
  8. Study the functions of the Province Liaisons and the specific ways to fulfill these functions.

These were very richly productive and interesting days due to the efficiency of the work, the sisterly environment and the possibility to get to know the culture and some of the beautiful sites of Mexico.





The celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Mary is an important event for all of us who form part of the Company of Mary.

As we bring to mind this tradition so deeply rooted in our history, we think of Mary Our Lady to whom Jeanne de Lestonnac “consecrated the students and placed them under her protection inviting them to imitate her in whatever way of life God called them”. Mary becomes an example and point of reference, the companion who stands beside us and teaches us how to be and live our lives.

If we ask ourselves what we learn from Mary, in terms of the unfaltering faith that makes possible the birth of God within her, we must recall her life in Nazareth, her village.  We do not find her placed on any pedestal; she speaks to us of a simple life, of acceptance and self-giving, of care and mutual help.  We see her as a good citizen and a faith-filled Jew who gives witness to her faith and celebrates its traditions. 

The Magnificat expresses how a woman views life with eyes wide open, and how she jubilantly celebrates the greatness of the Lord and His care for the lowliest.  Her song reveals her insights, commitments and hope.

If we follow her journey we encounter the Mary who knew how to interpret the events of her life, who knew how to ponder them in her heart and discover in them the signs of God’s will for her.  Her listening to reality, her listening to each person, to the Word and to her own inner life, empowered her to embrace the mystery within herself.

At the Wedding Feast of Cana we learn from her how to enjoy a feast, we learn about the good times that life has to offer, and how to be attentive to the needs of others.  She sees to it that everything is properly taken care of, and she knows how to do this without calling attention to herself, placing herself in the background.


It is easy to imagine her accompanying her Son, closely and from a distance, without fully understanding everything at times, but always trusting… As the first disciple of Jesus she shows us the path to follow.

At the foot of the cross, filled with pain and with strength, she verifies her absolute “yes”, her commitment until the end, and she opens the door to the future for the Church.

She, the most generous woman of all, invites us to live a life of authenticity and integrity.  To be “sealed” with Mary is to affirm that life is meaningful to the degree that it is open to others, in gratitude, forgiveness, seeking justice… and in striving to build a better future for all.

To celebrate the Feast of the Presentation today is to unite ourselves to all the persons who, throughout these 400 years, have experienced this feast as a sign of identity.  It is to express, once again, the commitment to follow Jesus, like Mary; to renew our faith and to know that we are in her company so that we may continue to extend our hand to others.


To celebrate the Feast of the Presentation is to acknowledge Mary as guardian of the educational work that Jeanne de Lestonnac wanted to offer for the good of society and that continues today in the mission carried out by the Company of Mary in different countries.





Circular to the Company of Mary by Beatriz Acosta Mesa, odn

Paintings by Arcabas



Sharing experiences 10



Each year, in the Company of Mary School, “La Enseñanza”, in Logroño, we prepare to celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Mary.  This year, following the directives of the Bordeaux Project, we the teachers and students felt called to GIVE THANKS for all that we have at the present  time and everything we have received throughout our lives.

Our theme was: “Detach yourself and be free.” Mary lived her life in a spirit of detachment; her self-giving was lived out in embracing the Word of God and thus making herself an agent of life.   Saint Jeanne held Mary up as our model because she wanted us to learn from her.    We looked at Mary as presented in the Gospel text, Luke 1, 26–45.  And we prayed that she help us to be grateful for the gifts that God has given us, to help us share these gifts and to be bearers of the “Good News” for others.


Each class had different colored papers with the word “Thanks” was written in various languages.  On these papers we wrote our own prayer of Thanksgiving and offered them at the celebration of the Eucharist.



Before the celebration of Mass, all the teachers and students processed around the school.  We were able to share our joy with the parents, grandparents and alumni who joined us for the celebration of this feast.


The Feast of the Child Mary also served as a platform to introduce our solidarity Project.   Through the International Solidarity Foundation of the Company of Mary (FISC), we wish to collaborate in “the social reintegration of girls and women, victims of war and sexual violence” in the city of Bukavu (África). Throughout the year and with different activities, we wish to contribute in our small way.  For the feast the 4th year students of ESO prepared “solidarity snacks.”


After the procession and the celebration of the Eucharist, we continued the festivities with different kinds of sports and entertainment activities such as plays, games, etc.

The underlying feeling that permeated the school was one of THANKSGIVING for all that had taken place.



This celebration helps us think about the importance of our gifts in order that we might responsibly share them with others:


  • Are we aware of our personal and material gifts?  Are we aware of our responsibility to share them with others and that we must use them in the service of others?
  • Does the celebration of this feast help us see the need to live in a spirit of solidarity?  How do we do this, in very specific ways?
  • Share experiences of solidarity that take place in your surroundings.




Sharing experiences 9


Guadalupe Victoria School always celebrates the Feast of the Child Mary with the entire school community in  various planned activities.

This year, from the first day of November, the preparations began for the celebration of the feast.

The Child Mary was taken to each classroom and placed on an altar prepared by the students.  In this way they prayed to herzz and felt her presence as a friend and companion on life’s journey.

The statue of the Child Mary was also passed from one family home to another, inviting them to pray and render her simple homage in each child’s home.

Various forms of prose and drawings were created with the theme of the feast of the Child Mary… other art mediums and technological programs were used to express the same theme.

The young people prepared audiovisual presentations highlighting the virtues of the Child Mary that inspired them and gave greater meaning to their life.

A theatrical production open to the public presented the history of the celebration from its origins.

The Teacher Training School for Primary grades, as future educators, prepared a roundtable discussion on the values passed on to them by the Company of Mary and those which, through the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, they wished to incorporate into their in order to be agents of change in our society.

In the school chapel each class shared with Mary in a very personal way, their hopes, joys and needs; in our Mexican tradition we call this the ¨secret¨ we confide to Mary on this feast.

Following a school tradition, a raffle took place to determine who would crown the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This was a very  exciting moment.

Enthused by all the preparations, the feast was most solemnly celebrated on the 20th of November.  It began with a procession of all the school community: students, teachers, and parents.   

At the Eucharistic celebration the statue of Mary was presented by the pre-school children.  This was followed by the coronation of the Child Mary.  Afterwards everyone enjoyed delicious treats and different activities took place: games, cheers using phrases related to Mary; a talent show put on by the young people in honor of the Child Mary, etc.

At the end of the activities, a small remembrance of the day was distributed to all.

Once again, this celebration helps us be aware of the presence of Mary in our lives, as well as uniting ourselves to the universal Company of Mary where this tradition was celebrated in many different ways throughout the world.    It is truly a feast that roots us in a tradition that gives us a strong sense of identity.

School community of Guadalupe Victoria Institute.

Company of Mary.  Aguascalientes. Mexico.


The city of Aguascalientes is located in the center of Mexico.  It is known for its beautiful handwork in weaving and embroidery and its very friendly and welcoming people.  The climate is warm, as indicated by its name; and this applies not only to the people and water, but to its desert-like climate and scenery.   It is a city that, from the time of its founding, has been known as a bridge between the western and eastern regions, the states in the south with those of the north.  The Company of Mary has been here since 1807.   It was first known as Convento de María Santísima de Guadalupe y Enseñanza.  The original building was taken from the sisters during the religious persecution of 1926, and it is presently the Cultural Center of the city.   When it was once again possible, the community reestablished the school in a location near the first convent.  It remained here until 1985 when it was moved to the present site.  The “Instituto Guadalupe Victoria, Compañía de María”  has  550  students.

  • All the expressions and symbols used in this celebration demonstrate how the tradition inherited from Saint Jeanne is vividly alive, while at the same time it is inculturated into this reality:  the “visit” of the statue of the Child Mary to the different classrooms and home s, confiding her with a “secret”…  What customs from your reality have marked your celebration of this feast?
  • We also see the importance of reflecting on the ways of bringing into our lives the virtues lived by Mary and that through our particular characteristics and identity  help us contribute in a positive way to today’s society.  Let us share our experience regarding this point.