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08/10/2010: Italy

On Sunday 26 September 2010, six of us Brothers found ourselves at Grugliasco, at the invitation of a group of people who are keeping alive the memory there of the Brothers and of Saint Marcellin Champagnat.Grugliasco, 7 kilometres from Turin, was for 35 years (1903 – 1938) the general house of our religious family. Five general chapters were held in this village and it is where Brothers Stratonique, Diogène, Léonidas and Charles Raphael were elected superiors general.For many of us, Grugliasco was also the international juniorate where we were prepared for the missions. In my time, 1952-1955, youngsters in formation came from Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, Switzerland, Lebanon and Italy.The novitiate took place at Bairo, also close to Turin and from there the young Brothers were sent to Africa, Latin America, Japan, Madagascar, Syria… It was Mission ad Gentes before the term became current among us.The Marist Brothers left Grugliasco for good in 1960.At the centre of the park, where so many juniors played their war games… a group of lay people of Grugliasco in 2000 set up a monument to Father Champagnat; a very beautiful and original monument, composed of two large granite rocks arranged like dolmens, with a bust in shining bronze of Marcellin Champagnat on the higher. The people of Grugliasco bear the Marist Brothers a special gratitude, a sympathy expressed in the warm welcome they gave us and in the memories of the links they had with the Brothers. At the heart of this grateful friendship is the fact that, at the end of the second world war in 1945, a German Brother, Br. Raymond, saved 22 persons of the village who were going to be shot. This gesture and so many others remain alive in the hearts of the people.Every year they hold a remembrance day for the Marist Brothers. This year on 26 September, this consisted of a solemn mass in the parish church, a pilgrimage to the monument, a prayer to our Founder, followed by dinner in one of the best hotels in the town: a time for memories, sharing, and the strengthening of friendships.The six Brothers on pilgrimage, Pietro Bettin, Jude Pieterse, Teofilo Minga, Luigi Masio, Ezio and Giovanni Maria Bigotto truly benefitted from this climate of warm welcome, and the nobility of heart of these people so deeply Marist: conduct all to their honour. These lines offer me an opportunity to send a warm and fraternal greeting to all the Xaverians: « When one is a Xaverian, One is a bit of an apostle, One goes anywhere in the world, It is the finest of trades! » All Xaverians (the juniors of Grugliasco) would have sung that with enthusiasm.___________Br. Giovanni Maria Bigotto

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