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Montagne Community - Lavalla200>

 

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A Marist community has been established in Holguín

07/02/2019: Cuba

The Marists have returned to the city of Holguín, Cuba, after an absence of 60 years. The International community Lavalla200> was launched publicly in the Cathedral, January 6, by Mons. Emilio Aranguren Echeverría, bishop of the Diocese of Holguín. 

As part of their mission the members of the Marist community have already been in contact with the residents of the neighbourhood; they have met several times with the diocesan commissions, the parishes, the deprived neighbourhoods, the social services and several religious congregations.  

Forming part of the new community are: Brother Jorge Gaio (Province of Brasil Centro-Sul), Brother Dionesio De Vera, JR Acosta (Province of East Asia), Mrs. Silvia Margarita Pérez and Mr. Ricardo Antonio Miño Barreno (Province of Santa María de los Andes). 

The International community Lavalla200> in Holguín, is now the third Marist presence in Cuba, following those of Cienfuegos and Havana. 

Below can be found the detailed report sent by the members of the community. 

Montagne Community  - Lavalla200

 

Our journey began in Guatemala on December 1 last year, when we participated in the retreat, animated by H. Emili Turú, with brothers and laypeople from Central America. It was a special way of getting to know something of the Marist presence in Guatemala and El Salvador. We were made to feel welcome and part of the family. On December 17, in the company of Br. Hipólito, Provincial of Central America and Br. Jesús, from the community of Cienfuegos, we arrived in Havana and spent several days with the brothers: Hector, Jesús and Chema. We also attended the Intercommunity meeting between the two Marist communities of Cuba. Monsignor Emilito also welcomed us and provided us with his insights into our new context. He invited us to value "small steps, little things, the anonymous, the gradual, the hidden, seeing from below, with hope." We must start the process of "embedding" ourselves: To look, listen, contemplate, learn, get close to the people, their realities, the history and culture of Cuba. We need to make contact with various people and organizations to know how the evangelizing mission of the church is carried out.

On December 24th we traveled to Cienfuegos to celebrate Christmas and New Year's Day with the brothers: José Antonio, Jesús and Teo. Over some days we visited several parishes and communities (mission centres). We were surprised by the joy of the people at being able to celebrate Christmas this year with more freedom and diversity of expressions: Novenas, Christmas Festivals, celebrations. We participated in the Christmas meeting of Pastoral agents of the diocese and we were able to talk with several people and families. It was very rich to hear their testimony of faith in the midst of this difficult and hard context, as well as the affection and appreciation for all the brothers who have been members of this community. During these days we shared life with the brothers at prayer, around the table and in very interesting moments of reflection and analysis of the Cuban context. From the simplest: buying food, transportation, health issues, Internet... to history, political organization, education and the national church reality.

On January 4, after arranging the documents for the issuance of Identity Books, we travelled from Havana, with Mgr. Emilito, to Holguín. During the trip he explained the situation and organization of the diocese in greater detail and the dreams he has for the diocese. On our arrival in Holguín, we found the house prepared with much affection, the fruit of the work of many people. Br. José Antonio had travelled with us and stayed for a week, giving support and advice, something he will continue to do from a distance.

On January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, we were presented in the cathedral to the whole community, after sixty years of the absence of Marists from Holguin. In this same celebration the young people who would participate in the World Youth Day in Panama were commissioned and there was an opening ceremony for celebrating the 40 years of the diocese. The image of the immaculate Virgin that had been at the Marist College of Holguín for many years was also welcomed. Now, after being restored, it will be in the cathedral. In front of this beautiful image we sang grateful and confident "Our Good Mother, I am here", putting our lives in her hands. Afterwards, some ex-students came to greet us, sharing happy memories of the brothers.

During this month we have met with Monsignor Emilito several times, and visited the parishes and communities of the city, the slums and different organizations that might provide a base for our ministry. We have contacted a number of priests and religious congregations, as well as those responsible for diocesan commissions. We have met many people and families linked to the church, experts in local culture, university people and professionals from different walks of life. The people we have met have been really open and willing to collaborate. We have also come into contact with children, teenagers, young people and the elderly. We visited the sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity, with a statue made of copper, and the city of Santiago. We have got organized as a community: our prayer rhythm, buying and preparing food, cleaning the house, spaces and times of personal and community reflection, as well as language learning for Jong and Jorge. All these experiences and encounters have allowed us to get closer and closer to the reality of this beloved Cuban people with its lights and shadows, joys and sorrows, frustrations and hopes. All this is part of our discernment process that will continue as we make our way on this sacred soil.

We count on your prayers that the Spirit of Jesus, our Good Mother and Champagnat will continue to encourage and enthuse us to be accomplices of the Spirit’s mission.

___________________

Montagne Community - Lavalla200>

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