Home > E-maristes > Marist Bulletin > Number 285 (01/03/2007)

Wherever you go

Rule of Life of the Marist Brothers



Social networking

Marist Brothers

RSS YouTube FaceBook Twitter



Calls of the XXII General Chapter


Archive of updates


Marist Calendar

23 July

Saint Bridget of Sweden
1816: Marcellin and his companions consecrated themselves to Our Lady of Fourvière
First brothers left for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1911) and the Solomon Islands (1938)

Marist Calendar - July

Marist Bulletin - Number 285


Marist Brothers in Romania

Download WORD

Responding to the invitation of the 19th General Chapter, the General Council took up the idea of going to the countries in the East of Europe, recently liberated from the communist system.
It was this same Council who suggested to the Marist Provinces of Europe that it would be they who would see this project through. After a first time of study, the former Provinces of L’Hermitage, of Castille, of Madrid and of Bética were interested in this project.
It was necessary to start by knowing different countries in East Europe. Hungary already had brothers and so was eliminated. The commission appointed to this research decided on Romania. It was a country in the East and recently it had suffered from the revolution and fall of the communist regime. It was seen as a poor nation. It was a Christian country with a majority of Christian Orthodox and six or seven per cent Catholics; and especially with a Latin language, though with a great deal of Slavic and Arabic influence. The Brothers Provincial of the four Provinces who had committed themselves made the decision to support this project.

At first, each Province contributed one brother. In September 1997 a community was constituted at Madrid with three brothers from the three Spanish Provinces involved. The fourth brother would be from Greece, a sector that, as we know, belongs to the Province of L’Hermitage.
After a few months of getting to know each other and taking the first steps in the Romanian language, the first brothers arrived in Bucharest on the 28th April, the day of Saint Peter Chanel.
The parish priest of Bucharest Noi and the religious sisters who were in the same parish were waiting for them here. They received an excellent welcome.
Undoubtedly the first contacts in this new situation were to observe and to get to know the environment. To be situated in the parish, in the neighbourhood and in the city takes time. The brothers did so and little by little they came to know this country and this city.

The majority of religious Congregations with many male and female religious arrived from abroad after the revolution of December 1989. Consequently they nearly all had a very short experience of this Church. Religious life has always existed here, mainly in the Orthodox Church but without leaving their monasteries. The monasteries were important in maintaining the religious tradition and even spirituality. The Romanian Orthodox Church has its Patriarch. He is autonomous and the organisation of the Romanian Orthodox Church revolves around its Patriarch.
The Catholic priest, religious or diocesan, is supported and his voice is listened to among the Catholics; often even excessively because he is the only one of worth and the only one who counts. The Churches, Catholic as well as Orthodox, are very hierarchical.
The vocation of a brother is not well known and not well valued. It is assimilated to that of the Orthodox monk who occupies the last rank in his Church. The possible vocations refer to the priesthood, both secular and religious.

It is an important challenge that we have taken up, we and the other lay congregations: to make the charism of the fraternity known in this Romanian Church; that the young people and the Christian families know this charism and see it positively. To find our place in the Institutional Church is for us an important subject. To show all Christians that the vocation of a brother is in force in the universal Church and also in this local Church. Recently we heard a Carmelite priest say that in this Church the priests dominate and the brothers are lacking, but this religious is Italian and he has a mentality different to the priests here.

What is certain is that Marist life in Romania is nascent and we have some clear challenges to take up: to inculturate the charism of Saint Marcellin Champagnat in this social milieu and in this Church; making the charism of the fraternity visible amidst our brothers and sisters, the men and women of Romania, opening our spirit, our heart and our hands to welcome all the men and women, especially the poorest of the children and young people.
Little by little we are opening ourselves to the different realities of young people. We are very present in the catechesis of the parish and in other milieux. We collaborate with other religious in the preparation of materials for the catechesis and in the organisation of co-existence and of retreats for the young people.

Making our Marist identity sufficiently clear and attractive to young people is a present objective for us. Undoubtedly it is something that challenges us and concerns us. Nevertheless we know that it is God who waters and makes things grow, we only sow and as the psalm says, often with tears because the fruit is not seen and God gives it only to his friends, if we are constant in work and in prayer.
A second aspect of what we want to leave as a constant in this presentation is the definition of the mission of the brothers in Romania.
This point also demands a fair bit of time.
In the first place, the instructions that the Superiors gave to the brothers were clear and concrete. We already have too many works and properties. In the new foundations, we must seek other ways of occupation and inculturation of the charism of Marcellin Champagnat. The Superiors expressed themselves more or less in these terms. We still have the letter that Brother Benito Arbués, then Superior General, addressed to the community to which he was expressing these ideas.
And it is certain that the brothers took notice.

After a first establishment in the city of Bucharest and having known various situations of young people and children, the members of the community shared themselves between various institutions who were working with children and young people in need, with street children and they sought to really know this situation that had been ignored until now.
A few brothers left the city of Bucharest to work in private institutions, generally of the Church. The others stayed in the capital.

It was a way of being familiar with the educational and social situation of the country. Thus we stayed several years trying to practise our charism and our way of doing so.
At a certain time, there was the start of an agreement with an Institution consecrated to working with street children but we could not arrive at a conclusion because at the last moment the other institution did not accept the proposal that the brothers were making.
A similar thing happened a few years later. When the conversations with a new private Association were already advanced, we could not arrive at a conclusion due to problems I am not aware of. We never had any explanations.

There were other attempts of collaboration in the works of the Church and a few members were involved in activities with children and young people in need. This occasion did not give the expected result either.
After much effort and seeing time pass by without any Marist work among the children and young people, the superiors, in agreement with the community, opted for the creation of our own work to develop the charism of our Founder on this Romanian land.
In the middle of all the incidents described above the Marist community had to define for whom they should work. Without doubt, this should be children and young people, but of what milieu? The school milieu was assured in Romania. There are school places for all the students, more or less of quality. That is why we have eliminated this educational field for the moment; who knows if the future will present a sufficient interest and if the brothers will opt to work in a school…

We have certainly found an area in which it would be urgent to lend a hand. The multitude of children who, for one reason or another, live away from their families attracted us. Some because they have never known their parents; others because they have been abandoned and remain alone. There are also those for whom staying at home was agony and who were turned out or made the decision to abandon the family home. Another group is that of children coming from families in which the need is so great that they cannot help it materially and leave it.
Amidst these needs and situations, the Marist Brothers opted to give a response to a small number, at least, of these children and young people.
It was a very opportune moment of restructuring to start a new educational experience with Romanian children.
The new Province of Ibérica, on whom these communities and all the works in Romania depended, wagered on this type of children.
In dialogue with the Provincial Superior and his Council, we opted for the creation of a Centre for the street children.

The construction of the Saint Marcellin Champagnat Centre for street children is already finished, caring for some thirty children, soon to be forty. This was possible with the aid of Caritas from the Diocese of Voralberg in Austria; with funds from Spain and the contributions of the Province of Ibérica, we constructed this centre, composed of four family type houses to house in each ten children, boys and girls.
During the time that the planning and the construction of the centre lasted, we had already carried out this work in the community house with a small group of children of this type. The space that the community occupied was half freed with three brothers going to live in a rented house in one of the many blocks that exist in Bucharest and we took in eight children who were looked after by three brothers and laypeople to cover their basic needs and to establish a personalised educational process which helped them to become men of the future.

Once these children were placed in the new centre, the community that was residing in this house created a day centre to help boys and girls who while staying in their families have needs of all sorts. This is a work of prevention, very important in our milieu.
Undoubtedly the future of the Marists in Romania is only starting and God will say which path we are to take. We already have an intercessor before the Father. I am speaking of Brother Luis Ayala who having been in Bucharest, died in March 2005 and is our protector.
We are full of confidence in Mary, our Mother, who, as always, continues to do everything for us. Father Champagnat shows us who are the Montagnes of today and all we need to do is to work and struggle to make “Saint Marcellin’s dream” effective.

6113 visits