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Meeting of former students of the Villanueva del Río school

08/12/2007: Spain

Villanueva del Río y Minas is a city in the province of Seville, Spain. For generations the city’s inhabitants have lived from industrial mining. One of the head engineers desired that the children of the miners have the chance to get an education, above all a Christian education. Thus, he had a school built, and in 1926 he entrusted it to the administration of the Marist Brothers.
When the coal crisis struck, many of the townspeople were forced to emigrate. As a result, the college was compelled to close its doors in 1976. Despite the school closure, the work of the Brothers was not forgotten. An association of former students, created in the1930’s, continued to celebrate the “Former Students’ Day,” which falls on the feast of Christ the King, Patron of the former students’ association. Thus, despite the thirty years which have passed since the departure of the Brothers from Villanueva del Río y Minas, the former students still celebrate the annual occasion and always invite the Brothers to it.
On November 26, 2007, the feast of Christ the King, the annual gathering took place. The program is almost the same each year: a visit to the cemetery where lie the remains of Brother Faustine; before his tomb the Salve and the laying of flowers. Later, a gathering takes place in the building, formerly the Marist school and now the city hall, where various topics are discussed. Afterwards a Eucharist is celebrated at the parish church with the accompaniment of an choir invited for the occasion. A shared meal brings the day to a conclusion.
About five hundred former students attended, and with them, as always, a group of Brothers, among whom was Brother Manuel Jorques, Provincial of Mediterránea. Among the Brothers were some of a ripe old age who did not spare themselves in making a trip of 800, 600, 500…kilometers.
Brother Rafael Hinojosa, himself an old boy of the school, summed up the day’s experiences in the following way. “It was a stirring kind of day,” he remarked, “because each of the day’s ceremonies called for great involvement. You can see among the former students a special affection for the Brothers and the wonderful work which they performed here over fifty years. You can discern the former students’ sentiments from their way of speaking, from their countenance, from their bearing. It seems that their hearts are still stirred by memories of the school experience that they had with the Brothers. Several expressed their feelings quite openly. In their hearts they bear a real affection and they show it.”
Brother Faustino came to Villanueva in 1933 from Barruelo (where he had been in community with Brother Bernardo), remaining in Villanueva until 1965. In 1962, he was given the honorary title “adopted son of the city.” He passed away in Castilleja de la Cuesta (Sevilla) in 1973. In 1992 the former students went to collect his mortal remains because they wished to have them in the local cemetery.

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