The Redemptorist Lay Community (RLC) was formed first in Sydney in the 1960s and later in Melbourne during the 1970s. In both cases it was nurtured by the imagination and accompaniment of Fr. Russel Morison, C.Ss.R. The RLC, as the community is affectionately known, has been a thriving offshoot of the Australian Redemptorist mission for 50 years.
Over that time, there have been full-time members of the RLC and part-time members who have ministered in the spirit of St Alphonsus, displaying his zeal for society’s outsiders and those who have been pushed aside. The RLC reaches out as a community to young people, solo parents, single people, married people, families and those who are homeless. The poor and the struggling remain their priority.
The RLC members pursue formation in the skills needed for mission. Sometimes they do this independently, at other times with Redemptorist brothers and priests, and over four decades in partnership with Fr. Frank Smith, C.Ss.R. The RLC has gone about its mission sometimes autonomously and at other times on mission with Redemptorists.
Sandra Marr’s story
As a young widow with a shattered life I attended a retreat weekend run by the Redemptorist Lay Community in Ballarat, Victoria. There were lay leaders and three Redemptorist Priests with us that weekend. I particularly remember the Eucharist on the Saturday night. It affected me deeply. The images and atmosphere remain with me still.
On that weekend I found compassion, care and support from the Redemptorist Lay Community and from the Redemptorist priests who were there. These were folk who reached out to disadvantaged people of all kinds. I felt their acceptance and understanding and I saw them bringing new life to the marginalized.
When introduced to the spirit of St. Alphonsus I was moved to follow him. He was an incredibly gifted, compassionate man who left a life of wealth and privilege in order to be with the disadvantaged in the Italy of his time. He reached out revealing God to forgotten people. He brought the Good News to the poor in the small and insignificant places.
Twenty nine years later I give thanks to St. Alphonsus, to the Redemptorist Lay Community, and to the Redemptorist Priests and Brothers. It was with them and through them that I was opened up to a whole new life. Among them I also have been led to reach out to wonderful people in difficult circumstances. My experience in the RLC has brought me to God, Church and Community.
(Sandra Marr, RLC)