JUNE 2024

Please enjoy this newsletter and share it with anybody you think would like to learn more about exciting developments throughout our Marist world!

During his period of temporary profession, Bro. Melquiano of Timor-Leste is ministering with the LaValla Project, where he teaches music to young students. The Lavalla Project is a Marist initiative in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that has been serving young people with physical disabilities since 1998.

Some Marist News from May

  • May 1: Bro. Antônio Rai Costa de Menezes of the Marist Province  Brasil Sul-Amazônia professed his final vows in the state of Mato Grosso. Rai was one of two Marist Brothers who were the first to arrive in the area in October 2019 — the other, Bro. Claudiano Tiecher, celebrated his 25th year as a Marist Brother that same day as well.
  • May 8: In honor of the 30th anniversary of the martyrdom of Blessed Bro. Henri Vergés in Algeria, Bro. George Cellier released the book Like a Palm Tree: Blessed Bro. Henri Vergés.
  • May 13: Seven Marist Brothers and one Lay Marist from six different countries of Africa, Europe, and the Americas began a month-long formation program for living in international and intercultural communities. 
  • May 18: The Marist community worldwide rejoiced in the celebration of 50 years of Marist presence in India. The local celebration was held in the city of Trichy in Tamil Nadu.
  • May 19: This year's celebration of Pentecost coincided with the 200th anniversary of the Marist Brothers beginning construction at our motherhouse, Notre Dame de l'Hermitage. A special Mass and celebration were held to mark the occasion.
  • May 24-27: About 200 people attended the Province of the USA's annual Marist Youth Gathering in Esopus, New York. Youth delegations came from ten schools and two parishes throughout the USA. One delegation from the District of Canada's Marist Youth Ministry also participated. 
  • May 29: The Gier Program, a renewal opportunity offered to Marist Brothers who have professed final vows within the last 5-10 years began at the General House in Rome. This year's cohort consists of 15 brothers from eight different provinces.
  • May 29: The Marist International Solidarity Foundation (FMSI) and the Marist Secretariat of Solidarity held a virtual forum to raise awareness in the fight against human trafficking. The event was entitled Unveiling Modern-Day Slavery: A Marist Event for Awareness and Action.
  • May 31 - June 1: In celebration of 90 years of Marist presence in Uruguay, 300 local Marist educators, both Brothers and Lay Marists, held a two-day summit to share experiences and promote pedagogical innovation.

A Moment in Marist History:

Bro. Jean-Baptiste Furet: Biographer of the Founder

Marists of Champagnat today owe a great deal to Bro. Jean-Baptiste, the prolific chronicler of early Marist life. Thanks to his efforts, we remain familiar not only with Father Champagnat, but also with Bros. Francois, Laurent, Sylvestre, Stanislas, and many more. The warm regard with which Jean-Baptiste clearly held his brothers continues to serve as an example for us today.

Jean-Baptiste Furet was born in 1807 in the Haute-Loire area of France in the Diocese of Le Puy. Though he grew up on a farm, Jean-Baptiste suffered from weak health that prevented him from joining in typical farm labor. Instead, he learned how to make lace in order to supplement the family income. His early character evidenced both a spirit of genuine piety and lively mischief.

At the age of 14, Jean-Baptiste found himself at the first Marist community in LaValla. He was among a group of young men who had mistakenly thought they were on their way to seek admission to the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Although that whole group decided to join Champagnat’s brothers in spite of this initial confusion, Jean-Baptiste was one of only two to live the rest of his life as a Marist Brother. Nevertheless, he was among the first of many to enter from the Haute-Loire.

In October 1822, Jean-Baptiste received the Marist habit, almost six months after he entered community. Soon afterward, he was sent to replace a brother who had left his role as director of a school and community in order to join the Trappists. In spite of his young age, Jean-Baptiste was relatively well-suited to the task, having been a gifted student in his childhood. Nonetheless, his poor health remained an issue as it would throughout his life; in February 1823, it was the sick Bro. Jean-Baptiste that Marcellin and Stanislas had gone to visit when they nearly perished in the snow trying to return home. By the time he was 32 and began to assume governance responsibilities, Jean-Baptiste had served at numerous schools and founded two of them.

Shortly before Champagnat’s death, Bro. Jean-Baptiste was named one of two Assistants to Bro. Francois, our first Superior General. After only a couple years though, he was given the particular responsibility of governing our Province of St Paul-Trois-Châteaux, where another group of religious brothers had just merged into our own. Jean-Baptiste worked to incorporate these brothers fully into our own Institute. His leadership over 18 years also saw this Province grow from about 40 brothers working in 13 schools to nearly 400 Brothers ministering in 80 schools. He had similar success when he was later tasked once more with overseeing the merger of another group of brothers into our own.

Bro. Jean-Baptiste was known as a tireless worker and great supporter of anybody who sought his aid. As a faithful correspondent to a number of young Brother Directors in need of guidance and ongoing formation, he was fond of saying, “You have got the devil to discourage you. As for me, my job is to always encourage you.”

Jean-Baptiste Furet spent many years during which writing was his primary work. His meditations and conferences were held in universally high regard, and he never stopped compiling histories and pieces of wisdom that would inform our Marist patrimony. The impact that his biography of Champagnat had on the Marist family is revealed by the simple comment from Bro. Francois, “that it recalled marvelously the Founder amongst his brothers.” He also continued to write theological works. Even on the day of his death in 1872, he was reviewing and correcting proofs of his final work, a collection of writings on the Incarnation.

The Superior General at the time of Jean-Baptiste’s death, Bro. Louis Marie, expressed his high regard for the departed, referring to him as a second Founder of sorts, who had the special mission of completing the Institute that had been begun by Father Champagnat. To preserve the memory of this remarkable historian, Louis-Marie asked brothers throughout the Institute to submit any memory of him they had, regardless of how trivial, so that others could benefit in the future. These submissions, together with Furet’s own correspondences, were used in 1917 to create a biography of Bro. Jean-Baptiste in order to celebrate the centenary of the Marist Brothers. This biography has never been published.

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