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Who are the Marist Brothers in the Catholic Church?

 

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20/04/2009: Mozambique

 

hspace=5Today many young people who have completed tertiary studies find themselves at the cross road of life, which vocation is for me? Many have wondered whether being a Marist Brother would be an ideal for them to be happy and work for the Kingdom. The young men you see ahead of you had also been bothered in their hearts with the same question. They were looking for a vocation which would give meaning to their life while being worthwhile to others. There were so many options open before them. They eventually ended up opting for Marist Brothers. Upon two years of initiation in the Marist life they freely pronounced their first vows on 6th December 2008. Today they are brothers in their respective communities ministering to young people. Our mission is to make Jesus known and loved. They all say for Christ and only for Christ have l sacrificed my life to serve in his church.

Yes, this is an Institute founded by a young a priest called Saint Marcelllin Champagnat in at La valla in France at the age of 27 and some months. The holy man had always had a dream which he saw that only a group of teaching Brothers could be answer. Ignorance of religion of the poor youth after the French Revolution almost killed religion on its face. He also discovered that teachers were harsh towards learners. His first day in class met with an woeful incident. As he was not intellectually strong, he hesitated to answer to a teacher’s question. A younger boy answered on his behalf and he paid for it at a price. He was given a savage slap. Seeing that the beloved Founder for while believed that school was not for him. He immediately engaged in the keeping of lambs for sale. He discovered that he had a gift for this self employed career as he was gradually becoming successful. A surprise came from a visiting priest who had consulted Fr. Allirot, his Parish Priest at Marlhes.. Fr. Allirot after a second thought directed the recruiter to the Champagant family and his vocation to priesthood became a reality. He went back to school this time round well determined to do well as he saw it was the will of God.

If miracles happen, it happened to Saint Marcellin. He excelled in his seminary studies until priesthood in 1816. He was a curate at La Valla to his Parish Priest Jean Baptiste Rebod. On one sick call, he was struck to administer to a sick poor young man of 17 years who was ignorant of religion. This incident alone provoked an idea he had always had at the back of his mind as he always said, “ We need Brothers!” His first candidate was Jean Marie Granjon a former soldier from the Napolion army, who was later joined by Jean Baptiste Audras. He taught these how read and write.The two became the pioneer brothers on 2nd January 1817. This congregation has appealed so much and attracted many people in 77 countries in all the continents. When you see the young men professing in big numbers like that, it just tells you that brotherhood is still relevant up to date. Our Founder used to say that to educate children we need to love them and love them all equally. A Marist would find it strange to cane a child as a way of instilling discipline. We also avoid giving nicknames to young ones. So we can say that Brothers are consecrated men who put into practice the Evangelical counsels and live them dynamically in the faith communities. Mary is at the very centre of our life and with her we go to Jesus. She always challenges us to do what he tells us as she did at Cana.

Our original name is the Little Brothers of Mary but the official Church gave us FMS, Marist Brothers of the Schools. We are the church representatives in the area of education and we centre on the most neglected and marginalized, the most destitute mostly in the rural areas. Today you see a Marist as a youth chaplain, a catechist, a parish council member, a diocesan bursar, a farmer manager, an apostle of street kids, a computer wizard, a carpenter, a defender of the child rights, Master of ceremony, a solidarity mediator.

He does his work quietly and hidden. He remains at the background and is happy to see that people are empowered. A Marist is not afraid to dirten his hands, in other words he does not hide behind degrees or diplomas. He role is to witness to the love of God for others done most generously and with transparency. He finds his strength in personal and community prayer, daily reception of the Lord in the Eucharist, community and apostolate. As a religious he gives an alternative face of being a Christian.

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Simeon Banda, fms, Matola

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