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Marist Bulletin - Number 176


Particularly close to our brothers in India and Sri Lanka

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The 2nd January, the celebration of the Foundation of the Institute, is an excellent occasion to feel in deep communion with our brothers in all parts of the world. This was the case in the celebration that took place in the General House, Rome. However, this year our attention focused particularly on our brothers in India and Sri Lanka, as well as their people. During the offertory of the Eucharistic celebration, the flags of both countries were placed on the altar, together with incense and flowers, while the sounds of a zither, played by a well-known Indian musician Ravi Shankar, were heard throughout the chapel. It was more an expression of our affection, our closeness and our brotherhood.
The media continues to confirm the sad premonition of the number of victims, and international solidarity is fortunately being organised. The communication that we have had with our brothers in these countries gives us a real picture of how they are living from day to day.

The following was sent to us by Brother Lazar Hirudayasamy, Superior of the Marist Sector of India:
There are twenty-three brothers in our Indian Sector. The brother who has been most affected is Brother Baskar. His family home, one hundred metres from the beach, has been washed away. His family village is completely destroyed, and one of his own brothers is still missing. Brother Baskar was at our Sector Meeting on the 28th December, but has now returned to his family. His family is presently living out in the open, with no shelter, and no facilities for food or drink.
There are three postulants from the fishing areas of the South East Coast. Two of them have reported that they, and their families, are not directly affected; in the case of the third postulant as well as for two of our aspirants, the situation is similar to that of Brother Baskars family.
As for ourselves, we have organised to help the people affected by this tragedy. Four young student brothers were preparing to go to a parish that needed assistance in removing the bodies of those who had been killed, but at the last minute, our assistance was not required as that village had received the necessary help. Yesterday, the 30th December, Brother Santosh and I, with volunteers from Project Rainbow (a Marist project that cares for people suffering from AIDS) went around businesses in Trichy collecting money donations and food donations for a small village that we knew needed help. Yesterday, the Indian Sector of the Marist Brothers also gave a significant donation to this appeal. All the donations of money and food collected yesterday went to that village last night, with Brothers Santosh, Susai and other volunteers.

At the moment, the brothers in India are preparing a project to continue working with the people in most need (about 1500 in total), where they have been helping to recover bodies and then help with the burial celebrations, as well as providing the families with basic hygiene requirements.

The Australian Brother Michael Sexton, Master of Novices in Sri Lanka, who was in India to participate in the celebration marking the start of Brother Lazars mandate as Marist Sector Superior has returned to Tudela where the Novitiate is located and has sent us this news:
I have now returned to Sri Lanka and have seen how the brothers are very close to this tragedy and have been greatly affected by it: nothing like this has ever happened before; where do we begin? As well as the very practical evidence of compassion pouring in from overseas, I am struck by the generosity of the Sri Lankan people to each other. Our novices spent two days at the Catholic Cathedral sorting out goods that had been donated by local people for emergency relief - food, clothing sleeping mats, etc. In the areas affected, people seem to be coming to terms with what happened and are only slowly contemplating what needs to be done to rebuild everything.

Also in Sri Lanka, as in the case of India, our brothers are looking at concrete ways in which the Marist Institute can help in the reconstruction. We know that the Marist family will respond generously to this invitation to solidarity, as has been demonstrated on other similar occasions. In the words of Brother Michael Sexton, of course the other great grace of this time is the realisation of how closely our brotherhood links us.

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