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Marist presence at the school Szent Pál de Karcag

14/10/2009: Hungary

September 1 witnessed the start, not only of classes but of a new Marist presence at the school bearing the name, Szent Pál de Karcag. Up to this year the school had been run by the local government. Starting with the new school year, however, the Eger diocese assumed the operation, and we Marist Brothers have taken up the pastoral duties at the school. Around eighty percent of the students are Rom. At present the school is the sole Catholic institution with a major enrollment of Protestants, with Catholics being only thirty percent.

This year the school has switched over from being non-denominational to being Catholic. To highlight the change, a ceremony took place with civil and diocesan authorities on hand. Before the ceremony, teachers and students took part in a Mass held at the local Catholic church. The day’s ceremonies ended with a meal at which were present: diocesan and civic authorities, the school staff, and the four Marist Brothers who are starting their apostolate at the school.

Prior to the first day of school, we had been able to get an idea of the housing conditions in which our students live. Before the school year starts - such is the tradition here - the teachers go to the homes of their students to tell them that school will start the next day and to give some details about what will happen. The visit allowed us to get a rather close-up look at the living conditions of our students, most of whom, as mentioned above, are Rom.

Now that we have a few days under our belts, we can state that the welcome has been marvelous, on the part of both teachers and students. We are beginning to get some idea of local needs, the sorts of things that are lacking in human and material terms, and we are thinking that, where there’s a will there’s a way.

The first Brother of the Karcag community whom we mention is Brother Rémi Véricel, the most experienced member of the community, and the only Brother who has been in Hungary from the time that the Marist Brothers returned here some twenty years ago. In addition to Brother Remi, we count Brothers Josep Miquel Mont, Pere Catalán and Jordi Llussà. We reside in a rented house not very far from the school to which we travel by car or bicycle.

We ought to point out that the majority of the people move about on bike, since the terrain is very flat. With a population of some twenty thousand people, Karcag is a city of markedly agricultural character; surrounding the city are fields and farms. Geo-graphically, Karcag is in the western part of Hungary and about sixty kilometers from both the Romanian border and one of the entrances to the Hortobágy National Park through which flows the Tisza River, the second river of Hungary after the Danube.

This is our year of initiation. We desire to live it in great hope, the hope of initiating a new Marist Brothers’ presence in an urban environment with educational and social needs. We are quite aware that by ourselves we cannot do everything. That is why we place ourselves, as did Mary and Marcellin, in the hands of our loving God. We wish to work for those in the greatest need. We dearly hope that we will get off to a good start at school, and that, slowly but surely, we will transform our heart into A NEW HEART FOR A NEW WORLD.

____________________
Brother Jordi

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