Silver jubilee year – Philippines




My very dear Brothers,

God be praised for twenty-five years of blessings! The beginnings were enthusiastic, the foundation is solid, and we can confidently look forward to even greater work for God and His children in the years to come.

As I look over your achievements in such a short time, I can only say: How thankful we should be!

To the four pioneers who gave themselves so generously to the service of the struggling Church of Cotabato, true missionaries carrying on the work begun ages ago by Paul, Barnabas, Patrick, and Boniface… only the names were changed to James, Damián, Herbert, and Peter.

To the so numerous, devoted, talented, and self-sacrificing lay teachers, without whose splendid help our work would be impossible.

To the parents of our students who so readily saw the value of a Christian education and were prepared to do without so many things themselves to guarantee that blessing for their children.

To our students, both old and new, for their admirable loyalty to the ideals of Notre Dame and of the Marist Brothers.

To the men and women of the government, both local and national, who have always proved themselves to be our friends and who have helped us in every way possible to achieve our academic and social goals wherever our schools are located.

To the Bishops and Priests of the five Dioceses in which we work, for their inspired leadership and fatherly encouragement.

And, above all, to God and our Blessed Mother Mary for the special loving care, the guidance and protection, the abundant vocations, and the many unknown blessings lavished on the Marist Province of the Philippines during the first twenty-five years of existence.

To all of the above, and to each and every Brother, Novice, and Aspirant, a heartfelt «Thank you» and a resounding "Mabuhay" !

Blessed Champagnat is surely rejoicing with you today, as he looks down fatherly pride on your beautiful country and sees new life and growth in the family he began so many years ago in far-off France. I am sure he is especially pleased that after 156 years he can still recognize in his sons the Marist qualities he wanted them to possess: love for God and man, zeal for the Church, a manly and tender devotion to Mary – Notre Dame of the Philippines, and his favourite "little virtues" humility, simplicity, and modesty.

We have indeed much to be thankful for, and nothing pleases God more than our gratitude for his favours and our confidence in his unbounded love for each one of us. I too, am proud and happy to join with you on this memorable occasion in thanking God and His Blessed Mother, in praying with you for continued blessings in the years ahead, and most heartily do I praise and congratulate you for the great things you have accomplished. .

My duties in other parts of the Marist world prevent me from being with you in December, but I will be with you in a very short time, and then I will convey to you in person my joy, my gratitude, and my loving interest in all of you and in all you do.

Very cordially and sincerely yours,


Superior General



L'œuvre inaugurée par quatre Frères Maristes américains aux Philippines il y a 25 ans, est devenue très prospère. Des pionniers dynamiques et entreprenants des ressources abondantes créées par des coopérateurs bénévoles, les autorités épiscopales très bienveillantes, et – fait non moins important – la collaboration généreuse du peuple philippin aux avances de la grâce de Dieu: tous ces facteurs ont contribué au succès «miraculeux» de l'œuvre Mariste aux Philippines. On en rend gloire à Dieu et à la Vierge: Elle a tout fait chez nous a-t-on répété aux fêtes jubilaires de la Province. On souhaite à présent que la Province philippine se suffise de plus en plus à elle-même. Les Frères philippins – déjà au nombre de 70 – occupent les postes de commande et la relevé semble assurée. Confiants en la Vierge Marie et marchant sur les traces du zèle Fondateur, ils ne peuvent manquer d'être pour les leurs, des apôtres de la Bonne Nouvelle du Christ et des instruments de sa grâce de salut.

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Varios factores han contribuido al desenvolvimiento sorprendente de la obra marista iniciada en Filipinas hace 25 años por los HH. americanos: el dinamismo emprendedor de sus pioneros, la generosa aportación de los bienhechores, la benévola acogida episcopal, y, sobre todo, la respuesta generosa del pueblo filipino a la llamada de la gracia. En las recientes fiestas jubilares se ha podido repetir: La Virgen lo ha hecho todo entre nosotros. El deseo actual es que la Provincia pueda pronto cobrar autonomía completa. Son ya 70 los HH. filipinos y varios ocupan puestos de responsabilidad. El futuro parece esperanzador.

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A obra inaugurada por 4 Irmaos Maristas americanos, ñas Filipinas, há 25 anos, tem prosperado. Factores desse éxito «milagroso»: o dinamismo e perspicacia dos pioneiros, os recursos económicos enviados por colaboradores, a benevolencia das autoridades episcopais, e, sem dúvida, a generosa colaboracào do povo filipino e a divina protecào. Gloria e louvor a Deus e à Virgem Santissima – que tudo tem realizado – foram nota das festas jubilares. Todos manifestam vivo desejo de que a Provincia possa em breve viver por si mesma. Os Irmaos filipinos, já em número de 70, ocupam postos de comando e o porvir parece asse-gurado. Confiantes em Maria, caminham ñas sendas do Fundador e procuram ser generosos apostólos da Boa Nova de Cristo.







A few months ago, a priest friend of mine asked me to make a request to the Holy Father for help for a project at which he is working. He is in charge of the CODE program, which is a Committee on Drug Education for young people. He wanted the Vatican to give him one of its art paintings so that he could auction it off to make money for the program. I presented the case to the Archbishop who is the money man for the Vatican. He became quite sympathetic to the request and passed on the document to the Holy Father himself, who was also sympathetic. But while he could not give any of the Vatican paintings to be auctioned, he did make a generous contribution to help fight drug addiction among the young, by educating them. What has this to do with a Silver Jubilee celebration of the Marists in the Philippines? It is quite simple. When Brother James allowed me fifteen minutes to address you this evening, it occurred to me that if we had an artistic painting to auction off, it would certainly bring in more help for our Philippine work than any talk of mine. But as I reminisced over our achievements of the past twenty-five years, I found that we do have a wonderfully artistic painting to offer for your consideration. It is a Marist Silver Jubilee painting entitled FMS – RP, or MARIST CHALLENGE IN THE PHILIPPINES.



It started just twenty-five years ago when the United States Province of the Marist Brothers sent four stalwart Marists to form the basic frame work on which the canvas was to be spread and the painting to be done. These Men: Jim and Joe, Herbie and Pete, were dedicated men of vision, with a tremendous potential for courage and daring, backed up by solid confidence in God and in our Blessed Mother. I will not here sing their praise, for you know of their achievements better than I do. Other Marists were later sent as helpers after the first year to consolidate that frame and to hold taut the canvas on which so much painting was to be done. And so, many other Marist artists have come over the years to contribute depth, vision, dedication and hard work, each one bringing his own special charism to help make that painting grow.

The work, of course, started very simply at first, and then grew and grew. It started with Cotabato and its old nipa buildings, and then continued in Marbel, Lagao, Dadiangas, Kidapawan, Jolo, Marikina; then there followed the various training centers and finally, only recently, Malaybalay. From nipa to wooden buildings, we went to cinder and cement block buildings. And that old block-making machine of ours was practically worked out from use. It saw action on week-ends, during holidays, after class hours, as part of the detention class projects, etc., and just about everyone worked at making blocks. When there were ready enough, we would put up a wing, a convento, a library, and then the machine was sent along to our next foundation where the same work started all over again. Later on, as our Marist painting grew to be more and more sophisticated, the buildings became the re-enforced concrete beauties which can be seen now at Marbel, Dadiangas, Marikina, and right has in Catabato. This was the physical growth. And in the meantime, the painting further grew: merely High School programs at first, to eventually include elementary level work, Teacher Training Centers, College education programs, science centers, graduate degree work, pre-professional training, seminars and conventions of all sorts. And thus, our Marists in some definite way to contribute to the already rich professional work of the NDEA.



Most paintings have sponsors who have commissioned them, or who have backed them up; and our Marist painting was no exception. The initial sponsors were two simple enthusiasts who never fully realized what would be the outcome of their dream: BISHOP MONGEAU and BROTHER LOUIS OMER. The first, whose presence here tonight is greatly appreciated, for it is HIS day and Jubilee as well, was the man of vision and tremendous confidence in a group of men that he really knew very little, but that he trusted very much, to the point of confiding to them some of his schools which were so dear to him. The other, as Provincial of the US Marist Province at the time, would have liked to come himself as the Founder of the Marist work in the Philippines. He had to content himself with being the Founder by his support, until such time as he was released as Provincial and was free to come here where he worked for many years. He should, and would be here tonight, if a stroke had not paralyzed him and prevented his return. But our Great Bimbo as he in affectionately called still claims that some day soon, he will return to die here where he really belongs. The other Sponsors over the years have been the regretted Cardinal Santos, Bishop Quentin Olwell, and maybe the greatest Bishop-friend which Marists have ever had, Bishop Frank McSorley. It is said that he was so attached to the Marist Brothers, that he was an easier touch for the Brothers to get help from him, than for his own Oblates to get help from him. And then, the other champions who have followed into their footsteps: Bishops Reginald Arliss, Antonio Nepumucena, Francisco Claver and Philip Smith. And it is a tribute to the intimacy of the relations that these men have with the Brothers, that they are Reggie, Tony, Cisco and Phil. With Sponsors like these, how could the Marist painting fail? Theirs is also the Jubilee glory tonight!


The painting

What went on that canvas? I should rather have asked WHO went on that canvas, for it was YOU and YOU and YOU: thousands of young Filipino men and women who have featured on that Marist canvas. Endowed with Christian principles, professional depth, vision and daring, loyalty to Church and Country, these have all been a credit to the Marist efforts, and especially so by their characteristic devotion to Our Lady, that loyalty to NOTRE DAME and to its Spirit, which have made them a unique breed among their fellowmen. And this is why the painting is unique, because so many of you graduates are a tribute to your Church and Country, and occupy places of honor in society and in business, and can do so with your head held high, with pride and honor. Your teachers who were the artists, have been the Yanks who came at first, seconded by the professional men and women of your own country who came to teach side by side with the various priests, sisters and brothers of the many religious Orders who have been associated so intimately with our Marist painting. All of these priests, sisters and brothers have been a colourful gamut of assorted Filipino radiance contributing to the Marist painting which this Jubilee honors; and this is to their glory as well tonight!


Local artists

And there has been an even greater and more satisfying contribution to our Marist canvas. The confidence of the Filipino people, your parents, in the work that the Marists were trying to do, was such, that they did not hesitate to confide some of their children to us to become Marist Brothers, so that we now have many native artists contributing to our painting. Our Filipino contingent has grown until all of our schools have young professional Filipino Brothers, mostly all degreed, some with Doctorates and many with additional religious training abroad. The growth of our Philippine Province has been unique. In 1911, we were invited to come to the Philippines; and we did not. Instead, we went to another country where now after sixty-two years of work there, we have some forty-four native Marist Brothers. We came to the Philippines only in 1948, and after these twenty-five years, the Philippine Province has some ninety Marist Brothers: twenty-two foreigners and the remainder Filipinos. The Brother Provincial and most of the various Administrators are Filipinos, and so are most of the Principals of our schools, the President of our Colleges, and the Directors of most houses. It has been a miraculous growth, and your parents who gave us their sons to realize this work, have also reason to be proud and to share in the glory of this Jubilee!


Reason for success

Why has this work prospered and this painting been such a success? It is precisely because of the fidelity to our Marist traditions. Like all Marist work, the initial work started out simply, was geared to the poor and to the students of the middle-class, and was based on a lot of hard work on the part of everyone. The artists were determined to work for the poor, to demand professional quality, to stimulate athletic competition, to train in definite Christian principles of living, to encourage loyalty to family and Church and Country, and to do all this, under the banner of devotion to Notre Dame. Ad if today, we are happy to have been a bit successful, we thank GOD for it, for we are reminded of the oft-repeated cliches of Blessed Marcellin Champagnat, the Founder of the Marist Brothers, who even as he would surely recognize his work and spirit here in the Philippines, would be the first to remind us: "We are unprofitable servants." "Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain who build it." And finally, to give credit where it is due: "It is Mary who has done everything here!" Thus, if this work has been in any way successful, it is because it has been the work of NOTRE DAME.



There is another group who rejoice with us today, and this group we must not fail to mention. They are the ones who provided the means to effect this painting; the financial help to see it to completion thus far. Oh, from the start the US Marist Province set support for the initial push, and there was also help from the various Bishops in individual houses, and in later years, the help from the General Administration in Rome to maintain the numerous training houses for our Filipino candidates. But over and above all these, all through the twenty-five years, there has been a group of loyal US BINGO WORKERS, who week after week, in and out of season, organized social Bingo games at tremendous personal sacrifice in order to come to the help of our Philippine Marist work, and to support and further its growth. Their financial help through the years, along with their letters, packages and various shipments have been constantly flowing towards us here; and today, they, too, deserve our grateful thanks, for it is also their Jubilee, the Silver Jubilee of the famous Marist Mission League.


The future

What of the future? There is yet a companion painting to be done in the next twenty-five years. But this one must be an exclusive Filipino realization. Our training houses are filled to near capacity with your Filipinos who have come to join our work. We have more candidates in our Novitiate and Scholasticate than many of the Province of our so-called developed countries. These candidates will join the Filipino Marists to become the artists of the future. And their specific challenge will be to start the same Marist work in Indonesia or in some other country, with the same spark, zeal, hard work, concern for the poor and dedication to Mary which will also guarantee their success.

Where can YOU fit into this future? The Americans will stay on to second the Filipino efforts, the Bishops will continue to sponsor and the parents to send us their children, but the US Bingo workers must be replaced by FILIPINOS. YOU are the ones who must help maintain and further the growth of our Marist work in the future. In the past twenty-five years of Marist presence here, we have never once made an appeal for financial help, not once solicited your support; but on this occasion, we feel that we must now make this appeal. Your help is needed; your contributions and support are capital, yes, even in spite of the hard times, if we are to maintain our young Marist candidates and expand the work in the years ahead. The next twenty-five years must be an even greater challenge, for they will challenge the Filipino Marist artists to enlist the help of everyone of you, Alumni, parents, benefactors and friends, not so much to produce a similar, but rather an even greater Marist painting in the twenty-five years to come. That canvas will also be labelled FMS-RP. But instead of reading the Marist Challenge in the Philippines, it will mean the FILIPINO MARIST CHALLENGE!



And as the Holy Father, as stated in the beginning, could not release a Vatican painting to be auctioned, but instead sent a generous contribution to help the program in question, so also now, instead or auctioning off our Marist Jubilee painting, we must keep it growing tor another twenty-five years by relying on your contributions to make it an even more glorious success in the years to come FOR CHRIST AINU FOR NOTRE DAME.




Brésil. Syndicaliste chez les Gauchos...