A House of Welcome
A House of Welcome**– « Huis om te Zijn »
The Dennenstraat House of Welcome (Huis om te Zijn) in Nijmegen opened its doors in August 2014. Its aim was to provide young people, between the ages of 12 and 17, the chance to live for a while away from their families, without completely breaking contact with them. Moreover, it was intended that these young people would return to their families after their stay in the House of Welcome. The initiative to create such a house came from the Dominican Sisters and Marist Brothers who were later joined by the Sisters of Julie Postel.
The project was set up with the agreement of the local authorities of Nijmegen. It was thus an excellent joint initiative of different congregations and local authorities with the latter planning to create a further three or four similar houses in Nijmegen.
The management of the House of Welcome decided on 1 July 2018 to close the house, for reasons given below.
The first reason for the closure was the decision taken in 2015 by central government to pass responsibility for social aid for young people from the State and the Province to a local authority level. This transfer brought about a new momentum. Outreach services for young people remaining with their families were organised quite quickly and the thereafter families could count on specific help. This development was at the same time extremely positive for the young people who could therefore benefit from close attention within their own families. The commune of Nijmegen was well aware of its social responsibilities and sought appropriate ways to come to the aid of these young people and their families.
In this process, the congregation’s initiative took on the role of intermediary, to provide liaison. After effective consultation with the local authority, it became clear that the congregation’s help was no longer necessary.
Another reason was that, latterly, our House of Welcome was asked, on several occasions, to take on very difficult young people whom we could not help.
The third reason was that it quite soon became clear that taking charge of a target group twenty-four hours a day, was too demanding for the couple responsible.
The congregations involved are happy with their experience and those who worked with the young people can be satisfied with what they have done. In all humility, we can say that the young people who passed through our house were happy.
The congregations can say that they found themselves, at any given time, faced with an urgent request and that they responded positively. Today, they can withdraw with satisfaction and pride in duty done We can be happy and thankful for this excellent experience and also for the social engagement of the congregation and of the houseparents in the House of Welcome. We may be pleased too that we were able to offer a welcome space of calm and peace to numerous young people who were able to benefit from individualised attention from those who managed the house.
MINDELHEIM – CMI NEW VOLONTEERS 2018-2019
As the 2018 CMI international volunteers, we were gifted the opportunity to embark on a journey to France to learn more about what it means to be Marist. Our host for our week, “Notre Dame de l’Hermitage” not only provided a beautiful home for the few days we were there, but was also began our view of the history of Marcellin Champagnat in his birth country.
Having all come from Marist schools, each day spent on our Hermitage not only gave us more insight into Marcellin Champagnat and his work, but also reminded the group of Marist values instilled in us. Our programme at Saint-Chamond-Hermitage was filled with visits to the birthplace of St. Marcellin Champagnat, where he grew up, the dynamics of his family, and the impact he left on people from all over the world. Each experience brought us together as a group.
Our visit to Lyon, one of France’s most beautiful cities was important in terms of its history and the strong influence of Mary in the church and throughout the region.
Being a part of this year’s group of volunteers felt particularly special because of the culmination of culture, language, nationality and race. Boundaries were non – existent as we all shared stories of our families at Marcellin’s room, life-changing experiences and taking an hour and a half walk through the forest alone as a group. We always felt a sense of family spirit, this showed in constant singing, music playing, praying and sharing meals together.
At the end of this experience, we left with a feeling of support in all its different forms. We are supported by the history of Champagnat and his work, by the Marist brothers and Marist communities all around the world. And lastly, we are supported by each other, young volunteers who have chosen to follow a calling to serve and be of service wherever we can. Our Hermitage to France can be summed up in one word… “ Joy – Jubel!”
Palesa, Shari and Murpry, CMI volunteers 2018.
FMSI at the MGF & FMSI at the MSI
Guests at the MGF
Three staff members of International Marist Solidarity FMSI in Rome and its regional commissioner Jasmin Nimar recently visited the Marist School in Furth. Besides getting to know each other, they presented international education projects of the Marist Brothers and analysed the status quo of Marist activities at the MGF as well as ideas for future events.
In recent years the MGF contributed to numerous events like the Champagnat musical, the Marist Bible together with all Marist schools in Germany, the international Christmas card competition with Daniala Tran of class 8a winning the first prize, the charity run “kids run for kids” collecting money for a school project in East Congo and the annual fund raising in advent for Brother Bernhard Tremmel´s school in Sen Monorom/Cambodia. Furthermore, they improved on communicating about Marist activities in general. The activities around Christmas were the highlight of the year.
The members if FSMI also introduced their activities, e.g. collecting the demand for international projects, giving money and supervising the projects. They also suggested a new fund raising event with selling rice for refugees from Syria.
Jasmin Nimar is the German representative of FMSI and responsible for networking the Marist schools as well as contacts to the voluntary organisation CMI.
After a lively discussion the group visited the school and saw a dance show during a school event.
Guests from Rome at Marist Solidarity International in Furth
Three representatives of Fondzione Marista Solidarieta Internationale (FMSI) in Rome, the central office for financial support of Marist projects, visited the charity organisation Marist Solidarität International (MSI) in Furth. They were accompanied by the new commissary of the province Europe Central West.
Scope of business was the exchange of their tasks, getting to know each other better and planning further cooperation. Marist Brothers are active in more than 80 countries all over the world, running educational institutions from primary school to university. Other social projects like support of hospitals, medical aid, emergency care and food programmes are on their agenda – in the sense of Marzellin Champagnat, the founder of the marist congregation, help that is focussed on people in need.
FMSI supervises these international projects, coordinates the distribution of money from different charity organisations and records the proceedings. Thus donations can be given more specifically and more quickly in case of an emergency. Thus the association of Furth could recently give 60 000 Euro to educational programmes in the Republic of South Sudan and 35 000 Euro to South Africa.
The cooperation of MSI in Furth and the central office of FMSI in Rome is of great importance as it guarantees an efficient and cost-neutral distribution of donations.
Jasmin Nimar is the person in charge of FMSI in Germany. She is also responsible for networking the European Marist schools, for voluntary projects and fund raising.
MINDELHEIM CMI Germany – Shari and Palesa
The Cmioffice in Mindelheim has been sending young men and women from Germany to Marist schools and projects in other countries for five years. Now, for the first time young people have come from another Marist country to stay and work with us. In this interview we put some questions to Shari and Pelesa about their motivation for coming to Germany and their first experiences.
- Where do you come from?
We come from South Africa, specifically Johannesburg.
- What were you doing in South Africa? Palesa: I am currently studying law and I have already completed 2 years of my degree at Rhodes University in South Africa but in 2018 I decided to take a gap year to do volunteer work. I did volunteer work in Kula Village in Kwazulu – Natal through the Marist community for 2 months before coming here to Mindelheim (from February until April).
Shari: I just finished high school in December 2017 and I decided to take a gap year before I start University, a gap year to do community service or work. From February until April, I had done volunteer work in Addo, Eastern Cape also through a Marist programme before coming here to Mindelheim.
- What contact did you have the Marist Brothers in your own country?
We both went to a Marist high school called Sacred Heart College in Johannesburg.
- What plans do you have regarding your visit to Mindelheim? What do you plan to do while you are here?
We got the opportunity to be the first South African volunteers to do Volunteer work in Germany, through a programme which had contacts at our school, and so the Volunteer work we are doing here is working at 2 different Kindergartens.
(Palesa) I am working at the Marcellin Champagnat Kindergarten and I (Shari) am working at the Luxenhofer Kindergarten. We work 5 days a week from 7:30/8:00 until 16:30. We are also a have a Deutschkurs 3 days a week to work and improve on our German.
- What impressions do you have of Mindelheim up until now? How do you feel regarding your first days in Germany?
Palesa: The Marist communities and the host families we stay with have been very supportive and very kind to us. We have been out of our comfort zones but it has been very rewarding
Shari: I won’t lie, Germany has been a culture shock but in a very good way, as Palesa said, we have been thrown out of our comfort zones, learning a new culture, language and how to work with children. It’s all been very tough but the growth has been exceptional. I like Mindelheim and Germany, people have been very welcoming. The bread and ice-cream is great and festivals like the Frundsbergfest have been very interesting spaces to find ourselves in. There has been both good and bad moments so far.
- What are your future plans?
Palesa: To finish my university degree and carry on doing community service and find a way to have a career that I am both passionate about and ultimately helps people.
Shari: To eventually make a difference. I hope to inspire people with my writing and my ideas. I feel as if the world is going backwards and I feel as if I have the potential to really make a difference through community service. My goal is to inspire more than anything.
Reflection Day on the Creed
Saturday 5th May 2018 was the date chosen as part of the “Journées de Genval “ for reflecting on the Creed and more specifically on the first part “ I believe in God, the father almighty”.
Over 40 people were able to reflect upon the reality of the faith and the possibility of meeting God the Father at the very heart of our own lives. This gift is given to all those who seek it. In the light of the teaching of the Scriptures or from the evidence of one witness or another, the participants were led to reflect upon their own faith, their own confidence in a God who, ultimately, is nothing else but tenderness. He gives us himself through his Word. It is a resounding Word by which his own Son came to tell us that God, his Father, is our Father
The participants, from all over Belgium, were happy to include in their number the presence of Brother Gerard de Haan, Vice-Provincial, who had come from the Netherlands in order to take part in this very fraternal event.
For the second part of the Creed, concerning the Son, a meeting has been agreed for next November as preparation for the periods of Advent and Christmas.
A labyrinth? A lot of people are not aware of their existence or even their usefulness. “What is a labyrinth all about?” is a question one often hears asked.
After a recent get together with some resident students in our “House of Silence” in Westerhelling (Nijmegen), I pointed out to them the presence of a labyrinth on the property and I commented on its purpose. Since some students expressed some interest in it, I indicated to them the best way to experience the labyrinth. They had to firstly go to the entrance indicated by the presence of five large stones and read the explanatory notes.
We owe the idea of building the labyrinth to Brother Gerard de Haan who wanted to mark the Bicentenary of the Founding of the Marist Brothers.
The labyrinth takes the same shape as the much admired labyrinth in the Cathedral in Chartres. It was Gerard Lobker, a Carmelite confrere, who, at the beginning of February 2017, started working on the project. Essentially, he used left-over construction materials and different coloured bricks to build the path through the labyrinth. It is about one kilometre in length, out and back. All he had were his hands, a few basic tools and a lot of goodwill. It must be said that the result is rather astonishing. The labyrinth creates within itself a sort of mysterious atmosphere of union and fraternity. It really invites those who enter to go on an inner pilgrimage.
The official opening took place on 6th June, Feat day of Marcellin Champagnat. Brother Gerard said a few words of blessing and as he concluded, he invited those present to “set out on a road of discovery of their inner self”.
Yes, it’s really true! On entering the labyrinth, you have no idea what is you are going to experience. You cannot get lost, which is already an advantage. Turning back is probably shorter than going back to your daily existence. Those who are interested are advised to stop half-way round and ask themselves the following questions: “What are the sensations that I experience as I move along? What impact can they have when I return to my normal life?” Then comes the moment to set off again and return to your departure point.
You sometimes have the impression that you in an area not far from the centre, and another time, that you are on the outside edge only to suddenly find that you are at the centre. Perhaps this is an image of our actual lives.
Since it opened, the labyrinth has touched a good few people. Quite recently, someone told me this: “I noticed that I was afraid to lead off, and then, on examining the path, I saw the traces of some footprints. It was then that I realised that I often followed the paths that others had laid out for me. I decide to try to follow my own path in future.”
Another person, suffering from burn-out, confided in me: “I found the journey through the labyrinth very interesting because I noticed that the inward path was of equal length as the return path. My actual situation is probably the result of my many errors in the past. My conclusion is that there is no urgent need to do things; that the way back can take time.”
One of the young people at the “House of Silence”, who is always striving for perfection, had the following experience: “I have followed the labyrinth path twice. After the first walk, I was struck by the beautiful red colours of a Japanese maple tree near the labyrinth. After the second walk, I noticed that the tree with the beautiful red leaves also had many dead leaves. I was touched by this because, in spite of the dried up leaves, the tree had still kept all its splendour. I realised that perfection was not essential, and that some dried leaves took nothing away from the beauty of the tree.”
You can get a glimpse of the labyrinth from one of the “House of Silence” windows. One evening, one of the youngsters saw a fox walking through the labyrinth. You can also marvel at the many flowers that are germinating everywhere in the vegetable garden, at the yellow petals of the daffodils that surround the labyrinth, and at the many other flowering herbaceous plants, such as the lady’s mantle, that are beginning to push up through the ground at the edge of the park. Long live spring!!
I hope that in the years to come, many people will come to fill the path of the labyrinth. Whether it is for a first visit, or on another occasion…May they be enriched with a new experience in their daily lives.
An Easter Gesture
On Friday 22 nd March, as part of a day entitled “An Easter Gesture – a morning on citizenship” held at L’Institut Sainte Marie d’ Arlon
(Belgium), a former Marist School, nearly 400 young people came
together to celebrate the Eucharist.
On this occasion, Brother Albert, who is still involved in many
different activities within the school, gave a short presentation and
handed over an icon created by Mr Nektarios Mamais, to a 12 year
This young girl then symbolically handed this icon to Monsieur Michel
Colling, Director of the school. It was a beautiful opportunity to
encourage pupils and staff to live the spirit of Marcellin Champagnat
in their daily lives.
A day of preparation for Lent, 2018
As part of the Genval Days of Spirituality series, a second day of renewal was proposed on February 10, 2018 at the Marie-Médiatrice Community in Genval. This is the retirement home of some of the elderly Belgian Brothers. Read more »
The Marists of Syracuse and the immigration drama in Europe
Following the invitation of the Superior General of the Marist Brothers, Brother Emili Turú, in the letter “The Dance of the Mission”, new international communities were formed with the aim of giving a Marist response to the new challenges the world faces 200 years after the foundation of the Institute. And so the Project Lavalla200> was created, as part of which the Marist community of Syracuse (Sicily) was established in October 2016 for the European Region. Its main focus is on refugee / immigrant children and adolescents who land unaccompanied in Italy.
The first week of the General Chapter
Please find here some images of the first week of the General Chapter, which started on the 8th September and is being held in Rionegro, Colombia.