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Marist Bulletin - Number 19

 

News
10.05.2002

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MADAGASCAR, THE GREAT RED ISLAND
Rays of hope in uncertain times


For the past several months, Madagascar has been going through tense times. Brother Sylvain Ramandimbiarisoa, Provincial, has sent us two reports, sharing his outlook and shedding light on the current situation in his country.

On 16th December 2001, we had a presidential election. There were five candidates, the former president Didier Ratsiraka among them. I myself voted and at night we went to the election offices to follow the counting of the ballots. It was very clear that the candidate Marc Ravalomanana had a big lead over Didier Ratsiraka.
When the Constitutional High Court published the results, they decided that there was need for a second round. Yet candidates had evidence that Marc Ravalomanana had obtained over 51% of the vote.
Subsequently, the people refused to go and vote for a second round, considering that the counting had been rigged and that a second round would inevitably lead to further cheating. They asked Ratsiraka to step down and concede defeat. As there was no response from Ratsiraka, the people marched in protest and declared Ravalomanana the winner. One may describe this action as a peaceful coup d’état, carried out by the people themselves.
Since February, Ratsiraka has armed and paid groups of outlaws to dynamite bridges and disrupt peaceful activities. The people in general, encouraged by Ravalomanana, have been reacting to this situation using peaceful means, avoiding any violence. However, their paticence is running short.
The International media is not always objective. Some wrongly support and encourage Ratsiraka’s attitude. It is clear to me that the people will neither support nor tolerate a second round of elections.
As you may know by now, an agreement was signed in Dakar by both former President Ratsiraka and new President Ravalomanana. Among other things, the two men agreed that there would be a recount by outside sources to find out which man the people of Madagascar had chosen, that barricades and roadblocks would be removed, violence ended, etc. Unfortunately up to now the barricades remain in place and we do not have enough fuel – transport is still a problem. This mess is the result of Ratsiraka punishing those who voted for Ravalomanana. Now, trying to divide the country, the former President has declared three provinces on the coast to be independent. The recounting of ballots has been completed, and it is clear that Ravalomanana won the election with 51.46% of the vote. In spite of the many problems still unresolved, the inauguration ceremony took place today – we now have a duly elected President: Marc Ravalomanana. We are proud to have him but still fearful because of disruptive acts of violence by the opposition camp. Last Saturday we were supposed to have a Provincial Council meeting in Ihosy in the southern part of Madagascar. We had to use public transport and pay a very high fare. Then in the middle of the journey, in Fianarantsoa, we could not get an intercity taxi to Ihosy because of roadblocks and some violence in the area. Finally the brothers from Ihosy managed to join us in Fianarantsoa and we held our meeting there. You can share this news with others. We are putting everything in the hands of the Lord.

Br, Seán attends Provincial Chapter
CANADA, NEW MARIST PROVINCE

The Marist Provinces of Quebec and Iberville have combined to form the new Administrative Unit of Canada. With Brother Seán Sammon, Superior General, in attendance, the brothers have just celebrated their first Provincial Chapter, from May 4-6 at Cap-de-la Madeleine, and elected a new Provincial Council. Brother Réal Cloutier, new Provincial, has spelled out the following three priorities in the process of refounding: rediscovering and nurturing our passionate love for Jesus, emphasizing the quality of consecrated life in each of our local communities, and living out our consecration and apostolic commitments with joy and enthusiasm.

Democratic Republic of the Congo
GOMA TENT SCHOOL

Recent reports from Brother Richard Mutumwa, District Superior in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, indicate that the Tent School is now functioning well. There are two sessions each day with the senior students in the morning and the junior students in the afternoon. In total, 1200 students have returned to access this temporary school until July 2002. The generosity of Marist schools, communities and provinces across all continents has enabled this emergency project to be launched after the volcano destroyed most of the school. Among recent donors were Marist school children in Nigeria and Hungary. The project has manifested a global solidarity we hope as Marists to continue to develop.

Brothers and Laity from Sydney
AT THE BIRTHPLACE OF MARIST LIFE

A group of seven brothers and ten lay teachers from Marist schools in the Province of Sydney, Australia visited the General House on April 23rd while on a study trip that included a stay of several weeks at the Hermitage.

NEWS BRIEFS
- The new Marist Province that will bring together the brothers of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela at the end of this year will be called the Nor-Andean Province .
- February 12-14, the Provinces of Santa Maria and Porto Alegre, Brazil met in Veranopolis, bringing together around 150 brothers from the two Provinces to get to know one another better and to look at ways of working together in the future.
- On May 8th Brother Richard Dunleavy, Secretary General, underwent an operation on one of his carotid arteries at the Rome American Hospital. Preliminary reports indicate that everything went very well.
- The General Council has decided to publish a new version of the international address book. Provinces and Districts will soon be asked to verify information in order to make the new book as accurate and up-to-date as possible.
- On April 18th, the third anniversary of the canonization of Saint Marcellin, the Publications Service received many messages thanking God and expressing joy over our Founder’s holiness as a gift for the universal Church.
-A Spanish-language poetry contest on the theme “Choose life” is being promoted by graduates of our schools in the Province of Catalunya, Spain. To learn more about this, contact lleonard@eresmas.com
- Catholic Relief Services in the United States is decrying the fact that between two and five million people are in danger of starving to death in the Southern African nations of Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, a situation due especially to three years of drought and negligible harvests.
- The latest edition of the Church’s Yearbook of Statistics contains data covering the time from the beginning of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate in 1978 until 2000. Non-clerical men religious have gone from 75,802 en 1978 to 55,057 in 2000. While numbers have gone down in Oceania, Europe and the Americas, they have increased in Africa and Asia.
- In Brussels the International Labor Organization (ILO) has just published a study entitled “A future without Child Laborers.” The study reveals that one out of every eight children in the world today is a victim of the most heinous and dangerous kinds of exploitation imaginable, evils such as slavery, identured servitude, prostitution, and pornography.

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