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150 years of Marist Brothers’ presence in Belgium

30/03/2006: Belgium - Photo gallery

The Province of Europe Centre-Ouest / West Central Europe wanted to mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first Marist Brothers in Belgium by a thanksgiving celebration during a Eucharist at Couvin in Belgium and a fraternal meal.

United with the Bishop of Namur were the priests of the region including a Jesuit priest, a missionary in Africa, Brothers from Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Great Britain and France, members of Marist fraternities, former students, school directors and the parish community of Couvin.

At the start of this Eucharist, the Brother Provincial, Brother Jacques Scholte, retraced a few stages of this Belgian presence since 1856, a presence wanted by Brother François, already the successor of Saint Marcellin Champagnat for seventeen years.

This introduction to the Belgian Marist history was followed by a screen presentation of several historical stages of the foundation of the Marist Brothers and the presence of the Brothers in Belgium.

All present were fully aware of the reason for this Eucharist. The thanksgiving was a thank you to the Lord for all the graces lived with courage, and sometimes with heroism, firstly by the Brothers of Beaucamps, then by the Brothers of Germany, Belgium and then the Netherlands. We were able to also give thanks for the faithful Marist life which brought us close to the holiness of our Brothers in Africa, in the Congo and Rwanda. Marist Belgium also paid tribute to the history of the Church and to that of our Congregation, in giving generously its time and its talents and, even sometimes, by shedding its blood on African soil.

The celebration was enhanced by the hymns sung by the ‘Troubadours de l’Eau Noire’ directed by Brother André Rousseaux from Couvin.

A joyful and festive meal was more than just a chance to have something to eat. It also gave the chance to the Brothers from Germany and former students from Zele to show their gratitude by a word or a souvenir. Thus Germany wanted to mark this anniversary with a very precious gift: a symbolic cross, fashioned by Brother Bernward Gerlitzki. The former students of Zele offered a picture representing their school and a book about the centenary of the school. There are no longer any Brothers in this school but the Marist spirit lives on.

This truly Marist spirit of fraternity and conviviality was able to reign over all the assembly and it is probably with great confidence that the doors of the Third Provincial Chapter of the Province of Europe Centre-Ouest / West Central Europe will be opened in the month of April.

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