2021-08-20 HONDURAS

Marist Mission in Honduras will be linked to the Province of Central America

Brother Ernesto Sánchez, Superior General, announced on 24 June that “the Superior General, with the consent of his Council, has decided that, as from 12 December 2023, the Marist Mission of Honduras will be canonically linked to the Province of Central America”.

The process of reflection on the future of the mission in Honduras was assumed in 2016, with a meeting held on 20 and 23 September in Comayagua, with the participation of representatives of the Marist works of the country and of the international Marist institutions. In June 2020, a process of joint discernment was assumed by the General Government, the Provinces of Central America and Compostela and representatives of the Marist works and community of Honduras, to discern how best to accompany the Marist mission in Comayagua.

After a few months of on-line meetings, a way forward was presented to the Provincial Councils to take care of the formation of Marist leaders and to commit to the future of the mission if there were no Brothers. After being approved by the two Provincial Councils, this discerned pathway was presented to the General Council in May 2021.

The provinces of Central America and Compostela, following the decision of the General Council, commit themselves to implement the “Road Map” in this process of transition. “We take on this new challenge as a province with a sense of faith, hope and responsibility”, says Br. Hipólito Pérez Gómez, Provincial of Central America, communicating the decision of the General Council to the Province. Brother Tomás Briongos Rica, Provincial of Compostela, values “the mission developed in the Marist educational works of Honduras over these years, for all the dedication of the Brothers who have been there and the lay people who continue to take care of our students. Those of us who have known this work at first hand are certain that these are responses that reflect the heart of the Marist mission: to take care of children and young people, especially those most in need”. ” During these years – stresses Br. Tomás – we still have a great deal of work to do: to take care of the formation of our leaders and to organise structures that facilitate the viability of the Marist mission. With this objective in mind, there will be two brothers, one from Central America and the other from Compostela, committed in the coming years”.

History of the Marist presence in Honduras

In August 1989, the former Marist Province of León (Spain), at the request of the then Superior General, Br. Charles Howard and his Council, reflected on the need to find its own place of mission in view of the fact that its presence in Zaire was no longer necessary.

After having consulted the disposition of the Brothers of the Province, Brother Provincial, José Rúa Galina, sent Brothers Santiago Fernández García and Manuel Fernández González to Honduras, with a two-fold mission: “To collaborate in the Holy Mission of the diocese of San Pedro Sula, in the north of the country, and to carry out a study on the viability of a Marist establishment in this nation”.

After studying various possibilities, on 4 January 1992, it was decided to accept a twofold offer from the bishop of the diocese of Comayagua, Monsignor Geraldo Scalpone, in the diocesan capital: the College of the Immaculate Conception and a training centre. This is the foundational Marist work in Honduras.

During the first year in Comayagua, the Brothers carried out these ACTIVITIES:

  • Undertaking the tasks of organisation and management of the centre “La Inmaculada”, without taking over the ownership of the centre.
  • Collaboration work in the Training Centre in the same city, without taking over its management.
  • Steps taken to obtain legal recognition of the Marist Brothers in Honduras.
  • Construction of a community residence in Comayagua capable of housing six Brothers.
  • Drawing up of a contract with the Bishop of the diocese to regulate the presence and work of the Brothers in the work being undertaken.

The first community in Comayagua was made up of Brothers Manuel Fernández González (Superior), Santiago Fernández García (Administrator) and Carmelo Cuesta Vegas. Their accommodation passed through various sites in the vicinity of the colonial area, until the decision was taken to acquire a building in Calle 6ª NO, where the new house was built, which is the one that remains today at number 17 of the aforementioned street. The house was inaugurated in September 1993.

Already in October of the same founding year, the Brothers had received the offer to collaborate in the social work for street children “Horizons to the Future”, an association born under the auspices of the Church on the initiative of the “Cursillistas Movement”. It will not take long for them to become involved in the management of this initiative, a commitment that Brother Gregorio Alonso has been carrying out from the beginning.

Marist presence in Honduras today

At present, the Marist work in Comayagua continues to support and animate two important activities:

1.            The “Instituto Marista La Inmaculada”, a co-educational school housed in the former convent of San Francisco, property of the Diocese of Comayagua. It has about 1100 students in Secondary and Baccalaureate.

2.            The “Horizontes al futuro” project, which houses and educates a group of between 30 and 40 street children. These children attend classes in nearby schools and within the centre they are accompanied and receive educational attention and participate in workshops that prepare them for a future profession.

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