Brussels – Marist Meeting

In Brussels, on 4 September 2018, a meeting was held on the theme of safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults. There were thirteen Brothers in attendance.

Leading the meeting were Mgr Herman Cosijns, secretary of the Episcopal Conference and Madame Micheline Cara from the legal department of the Interdiocesan Centre.

The morning was dedicated to the policy put in place by the church in Belgium to respond to complaints lodged by victims of abuse committed by priests and religious.

There was a general discussion of the Church’s attitude in the past. Awareness of the gap between protecting the Institution and abandoning the victims had been highlighted. This has resulted in a fruitful collaboration between State and Church. Victims have been able to speak out and their suffering is taken into consideration.

The two facilitators, speaking about the present and the future, urged us to remain vigilant and to find ways of continuing to be so. They also congratulated the Marist Brothers for their courageous policy and for the writing of the booklet. They encouraged us to put what is written into practice so that it does not remain merely words on paper.

Other topical issues, such as the protection of personal data, were also discussed.


The Provincial, Brother Brendan Geary, thanked the leaders and the Brothers for a successful morning. On the basis of the discussions, actions already undertaken will create a safe and supportive environment for the good of all.


An Honour for Mrs Ria Walk

On 8 September, Ria Walk said farewell to the Marist Brothers of Westerhelling/Nijmegen.

She had worked for 31 years, serving the Brothers, visitors and groups who passed through Westerhelling. In recent months, poor health had been the cause of lengthy absences and she really missed not being able to look after the brothers as usual.

At first, she was employed to do housework in the Brothers’ community. At the end of the 1980s, the number of meetings for religious training and reflection increased in Westerhelling, giving extra work to Ria and her colleague because they had to “do the rooms” and cook for about fifteen people. Ria was a good cook who loved cooking and her meals were greatly appreciated by her “passing trade” and by the Brothers, of course!!!

During the nineties, some refugees added their number to the community and from then on it was necessary to take care of 12 people and to plan appropriate meals.

From 2000, Westerhelling was the location of the Provincial House of the new province of West Central Europe. Ria adapted to these new circumstances and was always ready to serve the Brothers or those who came from Germany, Belgium or Great Britain. She had no trouble making herself understood by visitors from such different countries. Everyone understood her “sign language”.

To mark a Jubilee of the Brothers, Ria presented the community with a really beautiful tapestry of the Virgin Mary which she had made herself. Today, the tapestry can be found in the dining-room of the house. The tapestry must have required hundreds of hours of work and this is yet further evidence of her strong involvement in the life of the community.

For her generous dedication, her good humour and her honest laughter, Ria received the papal honour “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice”. It is a well-earned reward for a long career in the service of a religious community. Her endeavour constituted a precious and important contribution to the apostolic work of the Brothers.

Ria can look back on all these wonderful years with pride and gratitude.

The festivities came to a close with a celebration meal which brought together members of her family, acquaintances, Brothers and colleagues.


Orore Summer Camp 2018

Orore Summer Camp 2018

Once again this year, a group of 11 Marists, including Jasmin Nimar from the Cmi team, Wolfgang Hacker, PE Teacher at the Maristenkolleg, Mindelheim,   Brother Michael and 8 young adults – 5 of them former Cmi volunteers from Mindelheim – came to Orore.

Orore is a fishing village on Lake Victoria in Kenya, where there is a community of brothers who run Our Lady of Orore Primary School and a boarding section.

The summer camp, which was organized from that group, took place from the 18th till the 30th of August. Approximately 65 children, most of them pupils of our school but also some children from the village, were allowed to stay in the boarding section over the holidays instead of going home. They had the opportunity to participate in the programme of the summer camp, where they could work on something practical, or design some beautiful or simply interesting craft work in the 2 ½ h morning session. In the afternoon they could experience fun while playing new games, practicing challenging group exercises or participating in competitions in well-known or new sports on the large sports ground like volleyball, netball or football. The programme was completely planned and carried out by the team from Mindelheim. The brothers and four local teachers from the school assisted us in the activities.


The objective of the camp, which was to provide a safe environment for orphans or children coming from difficult circumstances, has definitely been fulfilled. They had the chance simply to be children, having fun and experiencing a safe and joyful time. Sometimes it does not take much to make a child happy, even something as simple as blowing soap bubbles or playing silly games with young and old together.

In order for the summer camp to have a lasting effect, the volunteers want to organize events and personal presentations back in Germany to inform people about the circumstances of children in our school in Orore, and to promote school sponsorships for particularly needy children. The school fee, which covers all costs for one school year (schooling, boarding, meals, school uniforms . . .) is 400 euros. If you would like more information or would like to take on a personal school sponsorship, you are most welcome to contact one of the participants or the Cmi office in Mindelheim (Tel No:  +49 8261/22024-60 or Email jasmin.nimar@maristen.org).


For all 11 participants from Germany, but also for the brothers and teachers on site and especially for the children, the days together were a wonderful time, characterized by deep experiences, e.g. T. personal insights and experiences and joyful encounters. The feedback was so positive from all sides that already a third summer camp is being planned for 2020.


Brother Hans Seubert visits the Brothers in Furth

Brother Hans Seubert visits the Brothers in Furth

On Monday afternoon Bro. Hans Seubert visited Furth. He is currently on home leave and has visited the brothers in Furth. Bro. Hans is doing better now because he had a severe malaria attack two weeks ago from which he is slowly recovering. After arriving in Germany, he underwent a thorough investigation at the Tropical Institute in Würzburg. So far, he has no feedback and no result on the test.

He was very happy to see his former novice colleagues Bro. Ehrenbert Steinkirchner and Bro. Heinrich Schamberger again. Both are now back in Furth after 60 years in the same community in Furth.

Bro. Hans, who works together with Bro. Andreas for more than 30 years in Kenya, said during his visit that he envied the two brothers Ehrenbert and Andreas, because they are a bit stronger built. Everyone can see from his figure that the African way of life can draw and shape a man like Bro. Hans.
Although his visit was short, he felt comfortable and enjoyed the time with his brothers.
We wish Bro. Hans a speedy recovery and wish him a relaxing holiday, so that after 2 monthsrest he is able to take his task in Ramba / Kenya once more.


First Lay Marist Assembly in USA

First Lay Marist Assembly in USA

It was a special privilege to attend the first Lay Marist Assembly in the USA from July 18thto 20th. The meeting was held at the Redemptorist Retreat centre at Long Branch New Jersey and was attended by 75 Lay Marists and a number of Brothers including the Provincial Bro Pat McNamara. It was a very enjoyable experience, with a great sense of togetherness and a strong vibrant spiritual experience.

The meeting was facilitated by Pep Buetas Co -Director of the Laity in Rome and Patti Rios from Mexico who is very involved in the Champagnat Movement.

The process at the conference clearly established that any Marist Group must have three elements to its life, Reflection, Community experience and an Action plan.

 The first exercise allowed the participants to break into three groups and identify from experience which element of the above areas attracted them most to the Marist charism.

This process was followed by two main presentation from Pep and  Patti. Pep shared the evolution of thinking on Lay Marist through the various General Chapters and Marist documents including Water from the Rock and Gathered around the same table. It is clear that the first stage is to awaken and discover the charism, followed by an encounter usually through some formation programme and then follows various levels of engagement depending on each person’s journey.

Patti in her presentation traced the evolution of the Champagnat Movement from it’s inception by Bro Charles Howard in 1980. It is interesting that by and large this movement has never gained any traction in the English-speaking world. Since 2012 a review of this programme has been in place to make it more lay friendly.

The rest of the Conference involved brainstorming about what a Lay Association might look like and the creation of a series of proposals that would form the basis of such a movement.

It was clear that a leadership team will need to be set up to look at the various proposals and develop a plan of action. Communications and Formation were seen as two key areas that will be crucial in the development of the Lay Association. Another interesting but very realistic conclusion was that a source of funding of the Lay movement will have to be established.

I really appreciate the opportunity of being present at such a historic moment in the establishment of a Lay Marist group in the USA and thank all the participants for the welcome I received.

P.J McGowan F.M.S.

Marist Brothers


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