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Common Bond reunion to be held at University of Dayton

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Common Bond, a group of about 700 former Marianist brothers and priests, will gather at the University of Dayton July 27 through 29 for a triennial union.

Bob Toai, a former Marianist brother, Common Bond board member and reunion planning committee member, said the group has been meeting every three years since 2003. About 150 are expected to attend.

“To our knowledge, there is no other organization like this in the world; no other organization of former religious. If there is, it is not near the size of Common Bond,” Toia said.

Historically, the reunion has been a time to rekindle memories and return to the University of Dayton, a Marianist institution, where many of the attendees earned their degrees.

“This year, however, we do have a theme – ‘Marianist Charism, 2018 and Beyond.’ With our 700 members, we know that those 700 are no longer religious. It means the Society of Mary, in essence, lost those people. They are no longer active members (of the society) and therefore no longer contributing, necessarily, to the teaching role the Marianists have,” Toia said. “Our organization keeps us involved.

“The Marianists and Common Bond members are getting older. Our membership age is roughly 75,” Toia continued. “One of the things we show interest in and are focusing on is what we, as Common Bond members and as lay members of the society, Christians and Catholics, can do to continue the charism we gained and learned about as former Marianists, such that we are having an impact in education, in social justice areas, in cooperation with the current members of the society.

Attendees are coming from as far as Ireland and Hawaii home to Chaminade University, another Marianist institution. St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, also is Marianist.

Toia said Common Bond was founded in 1988 by a group of former Marianists who knew one another and lived in the Northeast — mainly in New York and New Jersey. “They decided that we need to periodically get together as friends,” Toia said. “We were friends while we were in the order and some of us continued to teach at schools because that’s what we were doing before we left.”

The reunion will include a Saturday session at Mount St. John in Beavercreek, now part of the Bergamo Center. Mount St. John used to be a Marianist facility and included the group’s novitiate, where many reunion attendees lived and completed formation prior to becoming members of the Society of Mary.

After leaving the order, Toia worked as a research biologist at the former Kettering Research Laboratories in Yellow Springs, and in research and computer technology for Procter & Gamble in Mason. He lives with his wife, Kathleen, a teacher of 35 years, in Centerville.

A highlight of the gathering is a panel discussion workshop where a member of the Marianist Lay Assembly will talk about that 50-year-old organization’s mission. The assembly in comprised of married and single laity and Toia said the two group will investigate common goals and how to work together to achieving them.

A pre-reunion workshop focused on health, financial, and other issues facing an aging membership with a goal of taking the results and discussing them at regional meetings nationwide. Meetings in Philadelphia, Dayton, Cleveland, San Antonio, St. Louis and New York/New Jersey are in planning stages.

The bell tower at UD's Immaculate Conception Chapel stands vigil over Christmas at UD (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)
The bell tower at UD’s Immaculate Conception Chapel (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)
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