2024-06-11 CANADA

The District of Canada celebrates St. Marcellin Champagnat and the Jubilee of 12 Brothers

For the Marists of Champagnat, June 6 is a very special day: a reminder of Marcellin’s presence in the heart of the community and of our personal history; since January 2, 1817, a long journey of more than two hundred and seven years, from La Valla “to the four corners of the horizon”. This year, the Marists of Canada wanted to mark this anniversary in a special way, after a “big break”: the closure of Mont Champagnat and the transfer of 21 Brothers to two nursing houses, which could have caused a lot of sadness and nostalgia. But, fortunately, 2024 turned out to be a “year of highlights”, with 12 Brothers from the District celebrating an important anniversary in Marist religious life: two Brothers celebrated their 60th, seven their 70th and three their 75th anniversary of Marist consecration.

The new owners of Mont Champagnat were kind enough to invite us to this special celebration, making the chapel, full of memories and still intact, and other facilities available to the “former residents” of the house. For many, this return to their roots was a balm after a year of adapting to a new environment.

After the welcome, brothers and guests, people close to the Marist community, gathered in the chapel for the celebration of thanksgiving for Marcellin’s gift to the Church and to our Marist family, and for the years of Marist commitment of the brothers celebrating their jubilee of religious life. Brother RĂ©al Cloutier, himself one of the jubilarians, introduced each of the brothers in beginning of the celebration, which was presided over by Marist Father Raymond-Marie Moreau, chaplain to the brothers at Mont Champagnat for more than 20 years. At the end of the celebration, the Marist song “Toujours, toujours”, sung with soul and emotion, was a kind of renewal of the commitments made 60, 70 and 75 years ago.

The celebration continued with a fraternal meal, where laughter and memories confirmed Psalm 133: “How good and how sweet it is for brothers to live together”.

The celebration of an event like this represented a great challenge in terms of organization: for example, preparing the feast, ensuring the organization, planning the trips, especially for the brothers in wheelchairs; moreover, the brothers able to help with the organization were few… Brothers RĂ©al Cloutier and Jacques BĂ©lisle took on this challenge and made sure the party went ahead. But it’s easy to imagine the hours of planning and organizing. To them and to those who supported them, a big thank you: it’s gestures like these that unite the fraternity.

Celebration in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu

Among the brothers celebrating their jubilee of religious life this year, seven have lived and worked in the former province of Iberville, either in Canada or in various countries known at the time as “mission countries”: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Haiti. The District Council wanted those who were unable to go to Quebec City to be able to share in the joy of the community with a celebration organized for June 8th. Thus, 26 brothers, accompanied by some relatives of 5 jubilarians, who have been Marists for 70 years, gathered at the Maison Mariste Champagnat in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

After a welcome and a word of introduction from Brother FĂ©lix RĂłldan, Superior of the District of Canada, a moment of prayer and a well-adapted animation gave each of the celebrants the opportunity to express some typical moments of their journey and their commitment, taken from these “490 years” (5 x 70 years) of Marist life. Surprisingly, the facts or situations recounted evoked nothing but the positive, an element that clearly shows that a life given with love makes one forget the difficulties of the journey. These moments of communion always continue “around the same table”, a place of welcome and sharing.

Brother FĂ©lix was the host, but he had the help of the community at the District headquarters, which took care of the organization. Once again, the word “fraternity” was translated into a warm welcome. Thank you to our fraternal hosts.

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Br. Gilles Hogues

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