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Today's Marists

Marist events and stories about parishes, Marist School and Marist personalities are shared regularly in the print edition of our newsletter, Today's Marists. We invite to read about our ministries, missions, history, schools, donors and more.

Download Summer 2017 Today's Marists Newsletter
(updated September 12, 2017)

From Today's Marists Newsletter

Reflections on a First Trip to Marist Africa
By Paul Martin, SM

This year I had the opportunity to visit the Marists working in Africa, with whom, as a New Zealander, I had not had much contact. Since coming to Rome as Bursar General I have been able to become much better acquainted.

Reflections on a First Trip to Marist Africa Our men are based in Cameroon and Senegal. Originally started by the Marists from France, Africa is now a district under the General Administration. In March I was in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. Here the formation program is flourishing with thirteen men at the seminary, one at novitiate in the Philippines and four at the theologate in Rome. There is a parish in the area of Obili started by the Marists 25 years ago. This has both French and English speaking congregations, and people from around the city come for the English Masses.

Four hours from Yaoundé, at the end of very rough roads, is the town of Voundou. Here two Marists care for a parish and have also established the Jean-Claude Colin primary school. There are six classrooms and 240 pupils! It is proving to be quite a popular place for education.

Eight hours north of Yaoundé is the city of Bamenda, where, in the area of Bambili, Marists run a parish which is next to the burgeoning university quarter. Bamenda is English-speaking, and the proximity to the university allows our men to work with young people at such an important time of their lives. Here, too, is a center for handicapped young people, run by the Marists, providing education and support for the disabled.

Reflections on a First Trip to Marist Africa

A challenge for a district like Africa is financial sustainability. Most ministries are not self-sufficient, and thus the district needs to supplement its income. Land has been purchased for the growing of cocoa and bananas in Yaoundé and other fruit in Bambili. There is also hope of building a university hostel for young people in Bambili from which the university chaplaincy could also be centered.

I was struck by the fertility of the land of Cameroon and the life and energy of our confreres there. There are Marists from various African countries as well as from Canada and France, with a good range of ages. There is a strong desire to seek out and engage young people and to do so in best ways possible.

In May I visited Senegal where 90% of the population is Muslim. The relationship between the different religions is positive.

Reflections on a First Trip to Marist Africa Marists came from France to Dakar 70 years ago in the late 1940s with full awareness of the presence of Islam. They established a very successful school, Cours Ste Marie de Hann, which the Society has now turned over to the Archdiocese. Today, Marists serve in a parish in the area of the school, and provide a chaplain for the school.

The Marist Fathers, Sisters and Missionary Sisters also share a project working with street children, and each Wednesday the youngsters come to the Marist house "Nazareth" to wash up, to eat a wholesome meal, and to receive any needed medical attention. One of the aims of this program is to reunite the children of the street with their families. I was certainly disturbed to see these boys and teenagers living on the streets and to imagine what their lives must be like, especially, what their lives must have been like before they sought survival on the streets of Dakar.

The trust that they have placed in the Marists
and this successful program is inspiring.

The Marists of Africa have been at work to establish a school in an area about 30 minutes from Dakar in a newly developing area. Cours Ste. Marie de Hann purchased a property and began to run a primary school on the land. They have sold this to the Society, and starting in September the district will begin to operate the school, which they are hoping will grow from the current 160 children to a full "école" for students aged from 5 to 16.

Reflections on a First Trip to Marist Africa This is an ambitious project and obviously involves a significant financial commitment to provide the facilities that are needed for a school of eventually 800 pupils. I was surprised, however, at how things can be done there economically as compared to other countries. One of the tasks of our General Administration is to find ways to support the establishment of this new ministry financially. We look to the whole Marist world to help our confreres in Africa pursue this pivotal ministry of education, especially continuing to promote a positive relationship between Christians and Muslims.

So after two trips to Africa in three months, I am left with an impression of life and vitality and many wonderful possibilities. We have men in the District eager to seize any opportunity to reach out and spread the Gospel in such challenging circumstances and times. I felt a sense of growth and youthful vigor, and I can certainly understand why places such as Africa hold real hope for the future of the Church.

I also have a sense of the fruits of the labors of all those who have gone before, recalling particularly the work of the French confreres in the past who laid such a solid foundation from which current Marists are reaping the fruit.

The Marists of Africa are a real sign of hope for the Society,
and I have been fortunate to see what is unfolding there
and to meet the Marists who labor in the
Lord's vineyard so zealously.

Please look forward to a major article on the Marists in Africa in our next issue of Today's Marists.



There are Marists from various African countries
as well as from Canada
and France, with a good range of ages.

There is a strong desire
to seek out and engage
young people and to do so
in best ways possible.


Today's Marists Newsletter
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