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Marist Bulletin - Number 183


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26.01.2005 - India
A month of tragedy has passed in South East Asia

Here is the testimony of Brothers Johnson and Santhosh who have returned from a mission to Vailakanni located in the Tamil Nadu State.
Brother Johnson and I have just returned from Vailakanni after our preliminary work with Tsunami survivors. We helped them to clear up their rubbish. We gathered children in the evenings for recreational and educational purposes. These children are affected psychologically by the loss of their peer group, siblings and parents. We encouraged these children to go to school at the earliest possible opportunity. We had to do that because school is a place where their minds would be diverted and where they can meet their peers. It will remove them from the scene of the disaster and rehabilitation work. We also were involved in informal group and individual counselling. We just used a simple method: calling them by their first name, listening and talking to them in their own language, allowing them to tell their sad stories, to empathise with them. We have come across many people hinting about committing suicide because they have lost near and dear ones. I believe that our very presence has made a lot of difference, bringing hope to the hopeless. We are planning to go back after Pongal Holidays (the Festival of Harvest) and to explore what things we can do there. I think we need to take care of children especially orphans. Children have lost their books and notes and school materials. There is a greater need for our presence.

29.01.2005 - Spain
The Rialles Open Centre, in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Barcelona

Santa Coloma de Gramenet, with a population of 125,000 people from 92 different nationalities, is in the metropolitan area of Barcelona, Spain. In the year 2000, Cáritas and the Institute of the Marist Brothers created the Centre Obert Rialles to assist children and young people at risk in society. A civic jury, composed of fifteen members and presided over by the mayor of the city, assessed the educational contribution of this centre and awarded it the XII Premis Ciutat de Santa Coloma, which was presented to Brother José Antonio Molina.
The Centre opens in the afternoons, after the children and young people, aged between three and sixteen, have finished school for the day. The educational project is ambitious yet concrete. They combine recreational activities with educational tutoring, as well as providing something for the children to eat and giving them a chance to take a shower. Brothers José Antonio Molina and Jesus María Puente and three laypeople are the main staff at the Centre. They are assisted by sixty-five people who work as volunteers. The local parishes are also very supportive of this initiative of the Marist Brothers while the project is supported financially by some businesses and foundations.
This award is an honorary prize given to an entity of the Church. Such recognition is neither expected nor sought after in the daily, simple, constant work. For this reason, it has come as a surprise but willingly accepted as it acknowledges the effort of so many people. Though the Centre is a work of the Church, it is not restricted to Catholics. The personal and social needs of the children and young people are the important criteria, not their religious beliefs. This is an essential point in such a multicultural society. The people of Santa Coloma know that the priests and the Catholic people, the parishes and religious bodies, have always been on their side, making an effort to collaborate with the civil authorities and social organisations in favour of the common good. In granting this award, the authorities have shown that they support the commitment and work of this Centre, that they recognise the existence of a social problem and that they are willing to contribute to finding a solution.

31.01.2005 - Vatican
The Meeting of Theologians has taken place at the Vatican

On Friday, 28th January 2005 the Meeting of Theologians took place to decide if the deaths of Brothers Laurentino, Virgilio and their forty-four companions, murdered in Barcelona on the 8th October 1936, can be considered as martyrdom. Each theologian had prepared for the meeting by reading the lengthy positio super martyrio consisting of 1064 pages. All of the eight theologians expressed their positive opinion and, during the meeting, there were neither objections raised nor requests made for clarification regarding the facts presented. The Relator of the cause, Monsignor José Luis Gutiérrez, present at the Meeting, declared that the examination of this cause was very easy due to the unanimous positive opinion expressed.
After the positive outcome of the Meeting of Theologians, it is now a matter of waiting for the Meeting of Cardinals and Bishops, which normally takes place after six months. The reading of the Decree on Martyrdom will follow this and then, the date of the beatification will be named.
The positive conclusion of this cause, as that of the previous one concerning Brother Bernardo, is, for the entire Marist family, a reason for joyful celebration and thanksgiving to the Lord for he has done great things in us. This is also an invitation to all of us to give our life for the Lord.
A booklet, The Night of the Martyrs. Laurentino, Virgilio and forty-four other Brothers has already been printed and will help us to remember this important day.

03.02.2005 - Spain
Open Hands - 17th campaign

The campaign Mà Oberta (Open Hands in Catalan), which started at Mataró seventeen years ago for the recycling of paper, cardboard, bottles and clothing, has become throughout the years a tradition and a festival. It is a tradition due to the popular response to this campaign, as much from the citizens as from the volunteers. The citizens are already well aware of it while it is carried out by the volunteers of a wide range of ages: students, teachers, parents, animators, etc; of a wide range of groups: youth clubs, scouts, parish groups, etc; and of various areas: from Mataró, Lleida, Barcelona, Rubí, Igualada, Sabadell, etc.
The changes brought to the campaign during these last years have given an air of festival to this day of activities aimed at helping those in need. With the other activities that occur simultaneously at Mataró until the 3rd January, the collection of bottles has become a distinctive sign of the town that opens the eyes of its citizens to solidarity and the true meaning of Christmas.
Street theatre and music, the collection of food at the entrances to shopping centres, bottle collections, the large mural for solidarity and the collaboration of 250 volunteers in their orange clothes make the centre of Mataró come alive. These activities illustrate in a most obvious and true way that there are people, young and old, who continue to believe that it is possible to struggle for a world that is more just and more harmonious.

05.02.2005 - Spain
The spiritualty session finishes at Siguenza

From the 12th until the 19th December, the spirituality group of El Escorial went to Siguenza for a spiritual retreat that marked the end of the 73rd session.
The nineteen brothers who had taken part in the course were present, along with Brothers Javier and Teófilo, the animators of the course, and Father Guillermo, an Augustinian priest who was their chaplain
We had the privilege of listening to Brother Benito Arbuès who directed the retreat in an atmosphere that encouraged prayer and silence. It was an interesting experience that centred around three points:
· our life beginning from God,
the spirituality of Marcellin,
· listening to the Word of God present also in the Constitutions.
This theme led us to attend to, in particular, the classic moments of our prayer: that of the morning, our Marial prayer, the celebration of the Eucharist and the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the end of the day.
At the end of our experience we thank God and our Good Mother, not only for these last days that we experienced together, but also for the entire course that was a great gift from the Lord.

06.02.2005 - Italy
The Angelus live from Vatican 3

Many years have passed since the young priest, involved in canoe races in the rapids of Mount Tatra, had to interrupt one of his favourite sports to present himself to the Primate of Poland who was to tell him that he had been appointed as bishop. And following this, who doesnt remember him on skis, or while striding with such determination up the mountains that he loved so much? And who didnt admire him while moving through a sea of people so confidently, or when he managed, unnoticed, to escape from the Vatican to have a day of freedom?
But also for him many years have passed by. First a bullet, then an infection, a tumour, a fracture, the progression of Parkinsons disease and… Gods athlete has become, little by little, more dependent and in need of more help. And who doesnt remember that dramatic Help me! proclaimed in his mother tongue, during the homily on the 15th August 2004, at the foot of the grotto of Lourdes, one who was ill among many who were ill?
I had the privilege of knowing him full of strength - Br. Onorino Rota - , when working with him meant toiling and when having a meal with him meant finishing a little hungry, not only because he tasted only some things, but also because he would flood you with questions, objections, ideas… Not only have so many years passed by, but also many things have happened!
I think back to the scene of the Sunday angelus on the 30th January 2005, the Pope trying to get the dove, that did not want to leave, out of the room, the smiling children… and I hear the angelus of the 6th February from the Gemelli hospital, Vatican 3, as he himself calls it. I think back immediately to when he was young… but I cannot close my eyes to the reality that is before them today. My heart is a whirlwind of thoughts, feelings, emotions… Spontaneously, I find myself thanking God for the gift of the Pope and despite all, feel I must say again to the Pope: I love you, just as you are!

08.02.2005 - Australia
Sharing the Journey

The Marist Solidarity Campaign 2005 is an Australia wide educational, sensitising to justice and fundraising event or process that is usually conducted during Lent in 50 Australian Marist associated schools.
Br Chris Wills and Br Allen Sherry plan and produce a set of resource materials for all the schools: posters, postcards, lesson notes, prayer services, web links, Solidarity Sound Bites, a DVD with a story about one of our schools or projects in Asia or the Pacific.
Various methods are used for launching these materials including visits to the schools, mail-outs and official launches at gatherings in Sydney and Brisbane.
Funds raised from this campaign form the financial backbone for the work. The campaign keeps the agencies linked with our schools, provides connections of solidarity between Australian schools and the schools and projects in our Pacific and Asian region.
About 10 Australian schools initiated Immersion Experiences in 2004 whereby selected students travelled and lived with fellow Marist students in village or bush situations for about two weeks. These experiences were then brought home to animate the Australian school communities.
The campaign theme Walking Together - Sharing the Journey encapsulates our wish to be connected as Marists across the whole of our region of Oceania.

11.02.2005 - Brazil
Marist Educators in the 5th World Social Forum

Five hundred educators from Marist social works and schools in Brazil and Mexico took part recently in the 5th World Social Forum, held at Porto Alegre, Brazil, from the 26th to the 31st January. The objectives of the Marist meeting, motivated by the Forums slogan, Another world is possible, were to prepare and motivate the educators so that they be promoters of peace in their Marist activities, to encourage the exchange of experiences and to further bonds of friendship, peace and fraternity between the various Marist works.
The most significant moments of the meeting were the inaugural Mass and the five-kilometre walk through the streets of the city.
In total, 155 thousand people took part in the 5th World Social Forum. They came from 135 different countries, and 6,880 of these participants were educators. More than 200 thousand people were present at the opening ceremony of the convention. Around 2,500 activities were held and the team of volunteers numbered 2,800 people.
The Forum pushed many initiatives at all social levels and the participants left the meeting reinvigorated and more organised, with appointments for the whole year. Dialogue and meeting others strengthens those involved, broadening horizons.
In 2006, the Forum will be held in various places in the world and in 2007 it will take place in Africa. The work of this organisation is self-financed, based on democratic principles and carried out by Non-Government Organisations and people who want to build a world of peace, justice and equal rights. Another world is possible.

13.02.2005 - Colombia
Medellín - January 2005

The Novitiate Hermano Francisco at Medellín (Colombia - Province of Norandina) has expanded the space of its tent...
On the 22nd January 2005, in commemoration of Brother François Rivat, ELEVEN YOUNG MEN started their two years of Novitiate. These young men come from the following places: Haiti (2), El Salvador (América Central, 3) and Norandina (Colombia, 6).
During the evening Eucharist, Brother Laurentino Albalá, Provincial, accepted them into the Novitiate, encouraging them on their path of discernment.
Thus, our Novitiate has been enriched by the life and fraternity of these young men.
The formation teams of the Novitiate consists of the following brothers:
- Ramón Benseny (Norandina- Master of Novices)
- Hipólito Pérez (América Central - Sub-Master)
- Geovanni Velasco (Norandina - Administrator and Formator)
- Gilles Hogue (Canada-Haiti - Formator)
With the three novices in the second year, we now form a community of eighteen brothers. This not only expands the size of the tent, but also provides us with the challenge of expanding our heart in forming one same Marist fraternity that is interprovincial, international, intercultural and interracial.
The Province of Norandina also started this year with twelve postulants (ten in Manizales, one in Sibundoy and one in Quito).
We give thanks to God, to Saint Marcellin and to our Good Mother for the vocational fruitfulness of our Marist charism and mission.

14.02.2005 - Portugal
Lucia de Jesus dos Santos

Sister Lucia dos Santos, who witnessed the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima together with Francesco and Giacinta Marto, died at 5.25 in the afternoon of the 13th February 2005 in the Carmel of Saint Therese at Coimbra, at the age of 97 (23.03.1907 - 13.02.2005).
The story of the three young shepherds began on the 13th May 1917. While tending the sheep, they saw a figure of light, a beautiful Lady who said she had come from Heaven and that she would return to the same place at the same time on the 13th day of the following months. This was the first apparition that was followed by others. With the passing of the months the local people started to gather together around the young witnesses to pray and to be present for the mysterious events. On the 13th October of the same year - the last official apparition - a miracle occurred that was given a great deal of publicity in the press of the time: an immense crowd witnessed a singular atmospheric phenomenon called the dance of the sun that lasted for several minutes. The following year Francesco and Giacinta died from the effects of the Spanish epidemic. Lucia was left unharmed and became a religious on the 3rd October 1928.
Wojtylas great devotion to the Virgin and the coincidence of the date of the assassination attempt in Saint Peters Square with the date of the start of the apparitions of Fatima, linked the Pope in a special way to the Marian sanctuary of Portugal and to the one who had witnessed these extraordinary events.
The Pope spoke with Lucia during his first pilgrimage on the 13th May 1982, one year after the assassination attempt in Saint Peters Square. At this time he offered to the Madonna the bullet with which he had been injured, shot from Alì Agcas gun. The second meeting was in 1991. And the Pope spoke with Lucia again in 2000 during his third pilgrimage when he beatified Francesco and Giacinta. It was at this time that the Pope revealed the so-called third secret of Fatima.

16.02.2005 - Vatican
The Diplomatic Corps audience with the Holy Father

The Church is always directly engaged in the great causes for which the men and women of our age struggle and hope. For this reason, at the start of each year the Pope receives the Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See in order to offer them his New Year greetings and his message as a guide in meeting the great challenges facing humanity today.
The first - John Paul II said - is the challenge of life. Life is the first gift that God has given us; it is the first resource that people can enjoy. The Church, who proclaims the Gospel of Life, asks that it be respected from its beginning until its end.
The second challenge is that of food. The statistics on world hunger are dramatic: hundreds of millions of human beings are suffering from grave malnutrition, and each year millions of children die of hunger or its effects. The alarm has been raised for some time now, but a greater awareness and mobilisation are necessary especially in countries enjoying a sufficient or even prosperous standard of living.
There is also the challenge of peace, a supreme good and the condition for attaining many other essential goods. But so many wars and armed conflicts continue to take place! Like my venerable predecessors, I have spoken out countless times… and I will continue to do so… The arrogance of power must be countered with reason, force with dialogue, pointed weapons with outstretched hands, evil with good.
And finally the challenge of freedom, which is indeed a right of each individual that enables all to find fulfilment in a manner befitting their nature because it gives them the possibility to choose responsibly their proper goals and the right means of achieving them.

18.02.2005 - Europe
A school course to learn how to say no

EU-DAP are the initials of a programme, organised by the European Commission for Public Health for the prevention of the use of drugs in schools. At the present moment, only seven states (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Sweden) support this initiative, aimed at young people starting high school, aged thirteen and fourteen years.
The first results that have been made public reveal a worrying situation: at 14 years of age, 28.3% smoke cigarettes, 16.3% drink alcohol weekly (22% have been drunk at least once during the last 12 months) and 7.1% have used cannabis during the last month (under the form of marijuana or hashish). The percentage who have already used cocaine (1.5%) or ecstasy (0.8%) certainly are not high, yet nevertheless as it refers to children 14 years old, this is data that cannot leave you unconcerned. And if this is the panorama of the 14-year-old age bracket, what will it be like when they reach 20? It is not misinformation that pushes young people towards alcohol, smoking and drugs, but pressure from the group in which they live: parents (53% have at least one parent who smokes), friends, role models in society…
Faced with this problem, the European Commission has launched a project that will provoke quite a reaction among supporters of a free education at Summerhill: You need to learn to say no because giving information does not work and in fact, at times, produces the opposite effect. It is more important to develop in young people the capacity to express their own opinions, to forge a critical spirit, to confront the stress in difficult situations and to know how to get out of them, to be a leader without complying with the group. To learn to say no is not therefore the usual Lenten project proposed by so many bishops in the Catholic Church, but an educational programme of a political organisation that will involve students by regular lessons throughout a five-year period.

21.02.2005 - BRAZIL
Eight young lives all set to go

The 2nd February was once again an occasion of thanksgiving and joy in the Province of Brasil Centro-Norte for the vocations that the Lord and our Good Mother have sent us. After a long period of accompaniment, fifteen candidates for the Marist life started their pre-Postulancy at Montes Claros or at Fortaleza. At Mondubim in the suburb of Fortaleza, eight young men asked and were accepted for the first year of the Novitiate (from left to right: Tiago, Leandro, Wesley, Joilson, Cleilton, Adamor, Vanderlei and Adailton).
The feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which has a strong Marial connotation here in Brazil with the maritime processions in honour of Our Lady of the Seafarers, in other places known as Our Lady of the Lanterns, was celebrated in fine style by the entry of these young men into the Novitiate and by their commitment to their ideals.
We can only rejoice when we see young people continuing to respond positively and generously to the calls of God and to the strength of the charism of Saint Marcellin for the formation and education of young people.
May Mary, our goog mother, send many good vocatons to the entire Institute!

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