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The Bicentenary at the cradle of the Institute



Celebration of the Bicentenary at La Valla and at Our Lady of l’Hermitage

10/01/2017: France - Photo gallery

The celebration of the Bicentenary at La Valla and at Our Lady of l’Hermitage with the presence of Br. Joe McKee, the Vicar General, took place during two days.  Approximately 500 persons participated in everything or in part, in these celebrations in the places of origin.   

On Monday, January 2, at 15.30, in the Church at La Valla in Gier, it was by a Mass, at the same time, simple and beautiful that we began the celebrations of the Bicentenary.  An Assembly of approximately 300 persons, formed by Brothers and Laity, by the faithful of the Parish Saint Ennemond in Gier, friends of the Brothers, fervently participated in the Mass of thanksgiving, presided over by Mgr. Sylvain Bataille, the new Bishop of St. Etienne.  Several symbolical objects as well as a very beautiful floral decoration gave a festive and very evocative character of the Marist reality in that Mass.  

After that in the great hall of the first floor of the Champagnat House, Brothers Joe McKee and Pere Ferré (Superior of the Province of L’Hermitage) unveiled the commemorative plaque which marked this Bicentenary.  It is a work of art carried out by M. Jean François Telley the symbolism of which was presented by Brother Michel Morel.  

The third part was carried out in the hall of the Feasts graciously made available by the Municipality to the Brothers.  Mr. Jean Claude Flachat, the Mayor of La Valla, Mr. François Rochebloine, deputy of the circumscription; Mgr. Sylvain Bataille, Brother Pere Ferré, each one in his own way, evoked what this Bicentenary represented being celebrated in this place of origin.  Brother Joe McKee presented, the video message addressed by Brother Emili Turú, to all the Marists of the whole world for this anniversary day of the foundation.  

On Tuesday, January 3, different activities allowed the participants to discover and to live other aspects of Marist life of yesterday and of today.  A conference by Brother André Lanfrey, entitled: « To found the work of Mary as God wants it », has no doubt helped to understand better the complexity of the process of the foundation of our Institute, forcing somewhat the classic approach which has been made in our “official” books of the origin.  Then followed the propositions of different working groups: one on Marist Spirituality animated by Br. Maurice Goutagny; another one, by Br. André Déculty, on the Marist vocation, starting with an exposition, both of which were greatly appreciated and were followed by a good number of persons.  At the end of the morning, Br. Joe McKee presented, in the form of a slideshow, the great orientations of the Institute for the coming years, particularly through the concrete projects already being carried out: Lavalla 200 communities, the Project « Brothers » in Lebanon; projects marked by the inter-cultural dimension, of communion Brothers-Laity and of the presence in the geographic and existential peripheries of our societies.  

In the afternoon, at 14.30, other persons from around joined the groups to see the theater presentation « The 5th Gospel », evoking the message of the life of Br. Henri Vergés, prepared by Francesco Agnello and interpreted by Jean-Baptiste Germain,  This was, without any doubt, the act most charged with emotion of these celebrations.  Two-hundred persons thus discovered the life completely surrendered of this disciple of Champagnat », Brother and educator of the young Algerians, murdered on May 8, 1994. 

And at the end a celebration in the Chapel, animated by Br. Jean-Pierre Destombes, starting from the symbol of the table, closed these two days of celebration, each one was invited to take his place at the table of renewal.  

These few words written in the Golden Book opened for this anniversary summarize quite well, it seems, what the participants to these encounters have lived: « And anew, again two wonderful, warm, welcoming, fraternal days, on the occasion of the Bicentenary.  A wholehearted thank you for having allowed us to live such hours of evangelical fraternity… and a discovery of admiration of the “Marist Brothers”!  


Br. Michel Morel 

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