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Pilgrimage to Marist places

19/07/2019: France

During the last number of weeks, several groups of the Marist world have passed through the Marist places in France: Canada, United States, Paraguay, Brazil, Spain, among others. In the following text, the group formed by members of the directive Teams of the educational works of Ibérica tell of their experience.

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It's 8:00 in the morning. Notre Dame de L'Hermitage wakes up. A new day begins with the sound of the bells and a good breakfast. Next to us, there is a group of North Americans, who, a few days later, will be Brazilians. This beautiful place on the mountains of the Pilat Regional Park would never have imagined that people from all over the world would travel on pilgrimage, Marists coming to know their origins, the beginning of Marcellin Champagnat's great dream.

This week we have had the opportunity to contemplate with our own eyes the lush nature of the Pilat Regional Park, the environment surrounding all the towns and villages in which Marcellin began his life as a priest back in 1816. We were able to walk through the streets of his native village; listen to his experiences, like that of the young Montagne; and feel the magic that surrounds the first house of the Marist Brothers in La Valla.

We have also known many other important places in the life of our founder, such as the great village of Marlhes, where they venerate Saint Marcellin as one of their own; villages such as Le Bessat and Maisonnettes; and the city of Lyon, with its beautiful and imposing basilica of Fourvière, where we had the opportunity to pray and manifest our commitment as the first brothers did then in the "Fourvière promise".

We learned from the first Brothers that their simplicity, their work and their goodness made them models for all who came later, and that today their charism is still alive in all of us. Marcellin was their first example and for more than 200 years their tenacity, compassion, joy, kindness and inspiring energy have built a diverse and global family that continues its work of educating and evangelizing children and young people.

We have had the privilege of enjoying as children the teachings and virtues that the present community of the Hermitage has passed on to us about its past and present, always building bridges to the future. We will eternally thank them for their warm welcome and the gift that we carry in our hearts: the illusion of communicating to our companions and students what we have lived, and the experience of fraternity and belonging to a great family.

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