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Newest MCHFM fraternity - Province of Brazil Centro-Sul

01/04/2010: Brazil


March 9, 2010 witnessed the birth of the newest Fraternity of the Champagnat Movement of the Marist Family (MCHFM). The Fraternity, in the Province of Brazil Centro-Sul, and called “Fraternity of the Hermitage” is located in the city of São Bento do Sul in Santa Catarina State. The Marist Brothers were present in the city for more than fifty years prior to renting the property to the government. Its high educational standard has made the school one of the city’s most notable educational establishments. With real satisfaction, one can truly state: “This is really the kind of school that Father Champagnat desired, because it offers a top quality education while charging no fees.”

The idea of setting up a Fraternity in São Bento arose despite the fact that no com-munity of Marist Brothers exists in the town. The initiative was taken by two women: Zuleika Maria Sousa Vololini, head of the school, and her assistant, Ariane Lisete Hinke. Their initiative was the result of a Marist Spiritual Patrimony course which they attended at the Hermitage. The Fraternity got started because the two women came to the following conviction: that the MCHFM would help create the special environment needed to actualize the spiritual patrimony which they had learned about at the Hermitage.

Brother Joaquim Panini is Province coordinator of the MCHFM. In that capacity he was invited by Zuleika and Ariane to be present at the launching of the Fraternity. Besides the two leaders, eleven other individuals have joined in forming the new Fraternity. March 9th was chosen as the inauguration date. Brothers João Batista Pereira, Celedônio Cruz, Márcio Marangon, and Moacir Leandro Camillo, Province delegate, went to São Bento do Sul to be present for the important occasion. They were received very graciously and invited to a special meal - really exquisite - prepared at the school with great skill and personal care.

The official inauguration ceremony got under way at 2:00 P.M. when all the Fraternity members gathered around two statues, one of Our Good Mother, the other of Saint Marcellin. To the statues were joined the little statuettes that Brother Panini calls his five “evangelizers,” devotional objects that have been with him for more than twenty-five years. After hosts and guests introduced themselves, the letter of Brother Davide Pedri, Provincial, was read. Here are an extract: “It gives me real pleasure to offer you my congratulations because you have shown the ability to respond with a generous ‘Yes’ to the Holy Spirit’s invitation to establish a Fraternity of the MCHFM in your beautiful city, São Bento do Sul. In our Province, you thereby become the newest of the fifteen Fraternities which themselves are part of the 190 Fraternities in Latin America and the 285 Fraternities around the globe.”

Brother Davide went on to emphasize that the MCHFM is an «extension» of the Brothers’ community. Because Marist Brothers are no longer present in São Bento do Sul, Brother Provincial decided that the contact community for the new Fraternity would be the Provincial House, which will be represented in the person of Brother Celedônio Cruz. He will try, as far as possible, to be a “discreet, actualized presence of Champagnat.” In the course of the ceremony, a second letter was read, that of the committee which coordinates the Province Fraternities. The coordinating committee assured its full support to the new Fraternity, recalling the words written by Brother Charles Howards when he introduced the Life Project of the MCHFM: “It is a blessing and a joy for us, Brothers and lay persons together, to share our common richness and to live together an exciting spiritual and apostolic venture.”

Then came the key part of the ceremony: the Brothers officially presented the Life Project of the MCHFM. This document represents for the new Fraternity what the Constitutions are for the Brothers. Then the introductory letter to the Project was read, an inspiring passage from former Superior General, Brother Charles Howard. At the end of the reading, the members of the assembly shared their thoughts on the passage they had just heard. As the final act of the assembly, the participants recited the Fraternity Prayer. While photos were taken to record the historic event, the Founding Document was signed.

We share the joy of the thirteen members of the new Fraternity. We offer them our congratulations for allowing Saint Marcellin Champagnat to make an impact on their lives, and for committing themselves to practicing his spirituality. We extend to them our fondest wish, which is that their dream become a reality: to be committed, adult Christians who incarnate in their lives Saint Marcellin’s spirituality, at the school of Mary, our Good Mother.

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