Thomas F. Giardino, SM
. . . a resource for community meetings. The structure of each chapter has a nice balance of personal story, solid Marianist formation, and well-thought out discussion questions.

by Thomas F. Giardino, SM

135 pgs.


Brother Tom Giardino, SM, offers a variety of resources to Marianists of all branches and ministries of the Marianist Family, beginning with a fresh interpretation on understanding and speaking about the Marianist charism. With this foundation, the reader will find chapters on Marianist spirituality, Chaminade’s principles for building communities, and practical wisdom about commitment in community—along with models for Marianist community development and leadership in the Marianist tradition. Groups will discover a “Community Conversation” in each chapter to stimulate dialogue among members.
Readers of an advance copy of the book had this to say about the usefulness of this offering:


  • The structure of each chapter has a nice balance of personal story, solid Marianist formation, and well-thought out discussion questions. Our MLCs are always looking for an easy-to-use resource that doesn’t take much planning and preparation for the facilitator for the evening. Isabella Moyer, President, International Organization of Marianist lay Communities
  • I found your text moving and . . . I found myself excited to engage the text and see if I might understand Marianist leadership by going back over the text and connecting the myriad insights throughout the text with a description and challenge for all who are called (and nudged) into leadership in . . . the Family of Mary. David Coleman, Ph.D., Marianist Educational Associate, Chaminade University Honolulu
  • I think this book would be very helpful both for the communities that are forming and for people who are called to be animators of these groups. I think this will be particularly helpful for young men in formation in the SM who may not have experience working with Marianist Lay Communities and could use some guidance. Brandon Paluch, Novice, Society of Mary
  • The book is engaging in many ways as you share ideas from Chaminade as well as sharing your personal story. You bring the concepts down to earth. Your sharing makes the work more believable as you share your successes and your struggles. Joseph Kamis, SM, Assistant Provincial, Society of Mary, Province of the United States

Chapter 1.

When we try to describe the Marianist Charism, we may find ourselves searching for words and struggling with the same dilemma that Mark Twain observed: “The difference between the almost-right word & the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” 

The Marianist Charism, if lived well, leads us to experience expansive, new possibilities for our lives and the needs of our world. Yet, many of us who have surely experienced the Marianist Charism often find it difficult to articulate or to help others understand it. We end up using lightning bugs to describe what we have experienced in our lives as lightning. Words fail us, in part, because a charism is not a “thing.” A charism is an experience; it partakes of the mystery of the Spirit. It’s like love: words and poetry approach some of love’s meaning but never quite catch the whole. But when you are in love, you know it. A charism, like love, opens us to new potential and possibilities.

While it’s essential that we experience the Marianist Charism, it’s also critical that we are able to more deeply understand and articulate it if this reality is to endure. It’s also essential that we understand that this intense and life-giving experience that we call Marianist Charism has a source: the Holy Spirit.



Chapter 1: Understanding the Marianist Charism and its Manifestations
Appendix A: Understanding a Founding Charism
Appendix B: Understanding the Marianist Charism

Chapter 2: The Time of Our Lives: a Personal Reflection on Marianist Spirituality

Chapter 3: Chaminade’s Principles for Community Building

Chapter 4: The Mission and Mystery of Community

Chapter 5: Maturing in Community: A Promise Builds the Future
Appendix A: The Promise of the Mustard Seed Community
Appendix B: Identity Statement of the Mustard Seed Community

Chapter 6: The Promise and the Path
Appendix A: Styles of Groups and Group Interactions
Appendix B: Questions Communities Face

Chapter 7: Spiritual Direction: Guiding Others on the Marianist Path

Chapter 8: One Mission, Many Ministries

Chapter 9: A Model for Marianist Community Development

Chapter 10: Stages of Marianist Lay Community Development

Chapter 11: Leadership in the Marianist Tradition