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From Paraguay

28/01/2014: Paraguay

It is not often that we have news from Marist Paraguay on our web page. Paraguay is a peaceful country in the heart of South America, and is bordered by Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. The population is barely 7 million in an area of more than 400,000 square kilometers. It is the only bilingual country in South America, with both Spanish and Guaraní recognized as official languages

From history we learn the importance that the famous Jesuit "reductions" and later, the Franciscan missions had in the country. In the present, and having recently celebrated 200 years of independence (1811), the country is experiencing strong demographic and economic growth, based especially in the agricultural sector. It is a great exporter of beef and electricity.

The first Marist Brothers came to the country from Cataluña in 1969. Little by little they opened educational establishments and sowed the Marist charism. Native vocations began to emerge.

In 2003, with the restructuring being done throughout the Institute, Paraguay became a district dependent on the new Province of Cruz del Sur. It has 20 Brothers (10 Spaniards and 10 Paraguayans) living in communities and schools in Horqueta, Caaguazú, Coronel Oviedo, Limpio and Asunción, where the district headquarters is located. A Paraguayan novice continues his novitiate in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Another Brother is a formator in El Escorial and one works in the missions in Thailand (Marist District of Asia). A Paraguayan Lay Marist is part of the international community at the Hermitage.

Four events took place in Marist Paraguay over the past few months:

·         The meeting of the Commission of Marist Laity for the Americas, held in June 2013 in Coronel Oviedo. It brought together for a week Paraguayan laity and others from various countries in the region. Br. Javier Espinosa, director of the Secretariat of the Laity, was also present.

·         The District Chapter, this past October, renewed the mandate of Br. Chema Custodi as district superior and set 3 priorities for the coming three years: Marist vocation ministry, identity and mission, and community life (spirituality and fraternal relationships). In attendance were Brs. Horacio Bustos and Juancho Fuentes, provincial and vice-provincial respectively of Cruz del Sur.

·         The canonical visit of Br. Josep Maria Soteras, delegate of Br. Superior General, to interview the Brothers and the directors of ministries and to express communion with the Institute. This took place at the beginning of December.

·         The annual retreat, held in Coronel Oviedo in the days before Christmas and directed by Br. José María Ferre, personal secretary of the Superior General. All the Brothers living in Paraguay were in attendance.

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