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18 June

St. Elizabeth of Schoenau
1900: the first Brothers leave for Bom Principio, Brazil

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Marist Bulletin - Number 125


Commission on the Evangelical Use of Goods

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Brother Maurice Berquet heads
the Commission on the Evangelical Use of Goods

Brother Lluís Serra

Maurice Berquet, 55, was born in Ste. Foy les Lyon, France. He studied youth ministry, earned a Doctorate in Electronics from the University of Strasbourg, served as Provincial of Beaucamps-St. Genis, and is now the General Councilor in charge of the Commission on the evangelical use of our material goods.

“If i were a rich man, …” the song goes. What would you do if you were rich?
If I were rich? Well, I wouldn’t be a religious. Committing yourself to the religious life means bringing your own life into line with that of Jesus, thus, leaving aside wealth. My will specifies that everything I inherit be given to the Institute and its mission. That answers the question.

The Marist Institute possesses material goods. How can these be used in an evangelical way?
Goods are indispensable for our mission. As we see in the Gospel. Jesus helps others through the generosity of those who support him. His disciples, organized in community, share the goods, with the help of an administrator, Judas … Concerning the evangelical use of goods in our Institute, it seems to me there are two essential guidelines for us to follow: accountability and solidarity.

In speaking of goods, does that also include personnel?
We cannot consider people as goods. The appeal made by the General Chapter refers specifically to “material goods.” Yet it’s true that the wealth of a group is not limited to the goods that it possesses. It also includes what’s called human patrimony.

What can be done about the unequal distribution of wealth in the world?
The international character of our congregation brings us face to face with this situation. As I see it, there are two possible approaches we can take as an Institute. One is to help development projects – BIS is already doing this. The other is to participate in international organizations whose work is related to our charism, teaching and the education of young people, especially the poorest. In this regard only networking with other agencies will allow us to bring about change at the national
and international level.

Could you cite places where marists are notably present among the poor?
Having already visited three regions in the Institute I can give you numerous examples. My most recent experience was in a community in Porto Alegre, at “Ilha Grande de los marinheiros.” There our brothers have a community in the midst of trash pickers, people scavenging for paper, and they run a free social service center open to all the children… This is genuine testimony to our solidarity with the poorest.

What issues will your Commission be looking into?
The task of our Commission is to formulate a discernment plan regarding the evangelical use of our goods and to help put that plan into practice. The plan would offer criteria to help with decision-making in this field, and encourage Provinces, works, and communities to take concrete initiatives in this area… because the evangelical use of our goods must be one of the key elements in any authentic transformation of today’s religious life.

(Marist Echos, September 2003)

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