2023-06-01 SPAIN

40 years of Ekumene, Marist social work in Barcelona

Giving value to the work of Father Domingo Solà and the charisma of Marcellin Champagnat. This is how the celebration of 40 years of Ekumene was commemorated on May 19 in the afternoon, at the House in El Raval neighborhood of Barcelona. Ekumene is a social work in Barcelona that, on the one hand, through volunteering, works in the neighborhood for literacy in Catalan and Spanish. And on the other hand, it makes known the social and cultural reality of welcome among the immigrant population of the neighborhood, through attention, cultural diffusion, and accompaniment.

The celebration, which lasted a couple of hours, focused – from different perspectives – on the people who have shaped the history of the center: an emotional video recalled many of the faces that passed through the center; Through a round table, it was explained how Ekumene lives today, and, through some initial speeches, the work of so many years was appreciated.

During the interventions, we were able to count on the presence of the Government of the Generalitat, represented by Carles Armengol, General Director of Religious Affairs, and Eunice Romero, General Director of Migration, Refugees and Anti-Racism. The importance of the task that Ekumene does was highlighted, from the point of view of the “transformation” of lives, and to move forward and collaborate together as a society. Charo Casas, president of Obra Misionera Ekumene, opened the turn of interventions with a heartfelt memory of the origins of the institution, and thanked the work of so many volunteers who have passed through Ekumene, over the years.

For his part, Gabriel Villa-Real, Provincial of the Maristes L’Hermitage, recalled the Greek origin of the word “Ekumene” (“everyone’s house”). And he highlighted the commitment (firm and determined) that the Marist Brothers made a few years ago with the commitment to assume the management of the direction and coordination of the center.

During the round table, led by Brother Lluís Serra, a young student and collaborator of Ekumene, Homaima Ben Hamouda, expressed that being in the center represents an opportunity for her, even because she has started to teach informatics. Teresa Dehesa said that she continues to volunteer at her 80 years “because this gives me life”; Marc Vidal, coordinator of Ekumene, expressed his satisfaction to collaborate in the center; the Provincial Vicar of the Maristes L’Hermitage, Brother Xavier Giné, said he felt “happy” to see Ekumene today. And Toni López, Ekumene’s administrator, thanked the volunteers for their work and, recalling the origins of the institution, mentioned that there was a contemporary volunteer of Father Domingo Solà in the audience.

The celebration was closed by Helena Bové and Florenci Bové, current director and president of the Board, who once again thanked the work of all the people who are and were the history of Ekumene.

The evening’s soundtrack was provided by the Orfeó Atlàntida Youth Choir, conducted by Arnau Roura, and Nuria Roura on piano, who performed a few pieces from their repertoire and ended up making the audience sing “Happy Birthday”, while the candles of the 40 years of history of service to others were blown out. The event was presented by Imma Amadeo, head of the communication of the Marists in Catalonia.


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