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18 June

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

Marist Calendar - June

Marist Bulletin - Number 5


Fiery rivers rampage through Goma

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A natural disaster crying out for us to choose life

Up-to-the-minute reports tell of a massive exodus of refugees, most on foot, some seeking relief on the waters of Lake Kivu. It’s estimated that at least 450,000 people are running for their lives in a frantic bid to escape the rivers of lava pouring out of Nyiragongo, a volcano towering some 3500 meters above them. Everyone is in dire need of basic necessities – food and water, protective clothing, medicine...
Authorities are planning to set up 26 camps to shelter some 650,000 survivors, and international help is on the way.
Desolation reigns - at least 80% of the buildings in the city have been destroyed – the panorama is one of a city being wiped off the face of the earth.
Lava flows are advancing at rates up to 20 kilometers an hour. Family members are scattered and cut off from one another. Bands of delinquents are looting homes and businesses in the area.

Our Marist Brothers in Goma
From a Marist perspective, the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Kinshasa as its capital (not to be confused with the Republic of the Congo and its capital Brazzaville) is a District under the supervision of the General Administration in Rome. It consists of 35 Brothers dedicated to our Marist educational mission in the cities of Kinshasa (2 communities), Goma, Kindu, and Kisangani.
Goma also has two Marist communities. One is responsible for a secondary school, Mwanga Institute. The upper floor serves as the Bishop’s residence, while the ground floor includes the school and living quarters for the 4 Brothers who form our community there, Daniel Besana, Marcel Bossuyt, Giorgio Bigotto, y Lino Soriani.
Mwanga Institute is only about 50 meters from the runway of Goma’s airport. The school has a coed enrollment of some 1000 students ranging in age from 12 to 18. The syllabus is varied and covers literary studies, business adminstration, biochemistry and other sciences.
This school has excellent facilities and the quality of its academic program sets the standard for other schools in the city. The government provides financial assistance and the parents are very involved and supportive of the teachers.
The second community in Goma lives at the District Center, also known as Casa Champagnat, and helps out at Holy Spirit parish. Brothers Richard Mutumwa, the District Superior, Alexandre Ongala, a teacher at Mwanga Institute, and Remy Mbolipasiko, the District Secretary, form this community, located about 500 meters from Lake Kivu and one kilometer from the border with Rwanda.

Latest word from our Brothers in the area
Here is the latest information we have from Brothers Masumbuko (D. R. of the Congo) and Eugene Kabanguka (Rwanda):
Goma remains engulfed in flames. The volcano continues spewing out molten lava, which is now burying the airport runway. The part of our school that first seemed unaffected by this calamity has all but disappeared. The river of lava has reached the doors of Casa Champagnat, our District Center. The Brothers have been doing everything thay can to save essential documents and belongings. Brother Richard is hoping to get on a flight headed for the area.
Apparently Brother Christian Gisamonyo’s mother is in Giseny at the moment. Brother Richard’s family has been in direct contact with the Brothers. Two relatives of Brothers Alfonso and Albert are with Brothers Alexandre and Pascal.
Brothers Giorgio, Marcel, and Lino have found lodgings in Kigali, Rwanda. Brother Remy will try to join them tomorrow.
Brother Eugene Kabanguka, the District Superior in Rwanda, has set out for Goma to help in any way he can.
Everyone is praying for the men, women, and children in Goma, for our Brothers, and for all Congolese families, especially those who have lost sons and daughters.

Lava flows won’t wipe out our commitments
For the time being in Goma, everyone is focused on rescuing lives and salvaging possessions… But the commitment of the Brothers to educate and evangelize the children and young people in their care has not dimmed in the slightest. What must we do to insure that those 1000 boys and girls can continue their formal education? The clamor of this incredible catastophe will never drown out the resounding call that our recent General Chapter addressed to all of us – choose life! If anything, this opportunity makes it more urgent than ever to do so.

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