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LEscorial - 05 - 16 March 2012

26/03/2012: Spain - Photo gallery

The days spent at the Escorial have been for us a time of Marist Spiritual Patrimony. First of all, a two day workshop animated by Br Patricio, a member of the group; then an experience of pilgrimage to the Marist Places around the Hermitage, in the company of the group of Community Animators from Manziana, near Rome.

The aim of the workshop was to allow us to discover, or rediscover, some features of the Marist charism. To do this, we made use especially of the 70 letters The Founder wrote to the Brothers, the original Marist legislation, and resolutions and other writings of the Founder’s time.

The workshop also envisaged offering us the possibility of coming to know the Places of Encounter with Marcellin Champagnat  and a simple method of pursuing interiorisation and discernment at the sources of the charism.

It was a period of intense work around eight questions relative to a concept of charism based on three complementary aspects: mission, spirituality and community. The final synthesis reflected a Marcellin face alive, attractive, full of tenderness, patience, and assurance. A Champagnat  Father and Mother, face of Mary, in whom he trusted completely and to whom he always had recourse. Thus we prepared our hearts for the pilgrimage we undertook on Wednesday 7, in the direction of Lyon.

The first important moment was waiting for the group from Manziana and the meeting with these English-speaking Brothers. The welcome, the journey, and the arrival at the Hermitage were an interesting experience: were we in 'Babel' or 'the Cénacle'? The testimony shared by Br Justin reassured us, for we had made majority choice of living the experience as a Cenacle, around Mary, and with the power of the Spirit. Justin underlined the effort we had agreed on to speak and understand the language of the other, in all senses of the term.

Our international community took shape gradually: the 30 coming from Manziana and the Escorial, plus the 8 Brothers and Colette, of the host community of the Hermitage, Renée, a Mexican lay man who had animated a workshop at the house, The Marist chaplain at the Hermitage and two Brothers of the General Administration: Eugène Kabanguka, C.G. and César Rojas. Many languages and nationalities, as many ways of incarnating a charism, of numerous gifts and limitations. Most of the Brothers knew the Hermitage already.

We made an ‘exterior’ pilgrimage: visit of the house and its surroundings, guided by the local community. At this stage, we were invited to look for the treasure of our roots in this house, a treasure we then shared at the eucharist, the table and during recreation.


Marlhes and le Rosey marked a second step of our tour. The walk from the parish to le Rosey, through a snowy countryside, helped us become aware of the way travelled by  Marcellin and his family so often and in all weather. Here he spent 16 years of his life; here his personality was forged. After the eucharist and the meal, a video helped understand this stage of his life. The Manziana group animated this moment when we were invited to share our family backgrounds. Return via Saint-Sauveur-en-Rue where Marcellin did his preparation for the seminary; the Bourg-Argental, which recalled the visit made by Marcellin and Br Stanislas to the sick Br Jean-Baptiste. From there we climbed to the Donnet house, now in  ruins, but which was without doubt light-filled and welcoming that night, in the middle of the snowstorm... The Memorare came from our hearts... Our day’s experience conscluded on the site of Marcellin’s meeting with the young Montagne: Les Palais du Bessat. We thought of our 'Montagnes' of today.

A day at home allowed us to open ourselves to the reality of our first Brothers, aided by Br Alain Delorme. We were able to see the charism under construction, with living stones, in a collective enterprise encouraged by our Founder, but inspired by the Spirit of God and sustained by the hand of Mary. Apart from Br Alain’s presentation, a work in languages on the features of Champagnat  which we discovered in the testimony of Br Laurent, helped us interiorize this stage of our journey.

Our pilgrimage continued in climbing up to Maisonnettes and La Valla. After a group sharing in the house of Br François, we walked to La Valla, in the footsteps of Marcellin and the first Brothers, who longed so ardently to make Jesus Christ known and loved by the country people. At La Valla, a warm welcome at the place of foundation from the local community. Celebration around the same table that Marcellin and his Brothers had made for us. Then, the  shared meal and a walk to N.D. de Pitié, where we pressed Mary for Marist vocations for today – brothers and lay people. We had an affectionate thought for the young men in our houses of formation or for those in search. At the foot of the Croix Rousse, we turned our eyes towards our current missions and prayed that the Lord would bless them.

On Monday we were invited to consider the incarnation of our charism from another perspective. We travelled to Geneva in Switzerland to learn about a current project of incarnation of the Marist mission: FMSI and its office, near the UNO, so as to be present, at the world level, in efforts of promoting and defending the rights of children and adolescents. The local community welcomed us; we had a meal with the Brothers, who explained their activities; then a guided visit of the UNO. We discovered a complex world of international forums working for the promotion and defense of human rights, as well as for development and progress. Mercedès, our guide, accompanied us and helped us to see the two sides of the coin. On leaving the place, we paid a quick visit to the office FMSI shares with another organisation. The end of the visit was marked by a tour of the historic centre of the city and around the famous lake.

Next day, Br André Lanfrey introduced us to the vast world of the Society of Mary. He helped understand the long and slow road travelled by our congregation – within the Society of Mary – to mature, and the founding intuition and concrete response given, at the time. This is not without instruction for us with regard to the road we are in train of travelling today, in thinking about the renewal of the charism in our Institute. Early in the afternoon, we made a pilgrimage to la Neylière, in its time mother house of the Marist Fathers, and the place where Fr Colin drew up the Rule and spent the last years of his earthly life. We also visited the museums of the Fathers and the museum of Oceania. We celebrated the eucharist near Fr Colin’s tomb. On the return, we stopped at Valfleury, place of pilgrimage for Br François and for Marcellin...

The high point of our pilgrimage was Fourvière, Marial sanctuary of the Church of Lyon and France, and place of the promise of the Society of Mary. We celebrated the eucharist there and toured the different places of Marist and cultural interest, among them the cathedral where Marcellin was ordained; near this is the Episcopal place he had to visit often enough... We were also taken by the Saint Nizier Orphanage, where Marcellin and the first Brothers took charge of a home for orphans...

The experience –pilgrimage ended with a morning retreat, Marial prayer at noon, around the graves of our first Brothers, and group sharing to help us reread the experience of these days and project it on to our places of life and et mission. Before the final eucharist, each had the opportunity to express what he had in his heart. The celebration allowed us to give thanks and offer ourselves, with the sacrifice of Christ. It was near the relics of Champagnat that we received the final benediction.

And there is what concerns the exterior... But each of us also lived an interior pilgrimage..., proceedings and connections woven together, like a net of the Spirit which catches all sorts of fish, or the journeying of Mary, inviting us to go in haste.

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