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Marist life in Cuba

23/02/2007: Cuba

Dear Brothers, our Marist greetings from Cuba, an island rich in sunshine, in golden beaches, in friendship, solidarity, rumba, dreams and good humour.
It is a pleasure for us to be able to share with you something of our life after nearly six years of presence in this land. We are doing this voluntarily, convinced that for every-thing there is a time: “to be born and to die, to tear and to sew, to cry and to laugh, to embrace and to refrain from doing so, to be quiet and to speak.” (Eccles. 3,7)

The Marist refoundation in Cuba has followed a sinuous itinerary. During 1993 Brother Charles Howard and his Council took the decision to send a group of seven brothers to the Greater Antilles, with the aim of trying to announce the good news to the children and young people of the dioceses of Cienfuegos and of Holguín. Today after nearly fourteen years and three Superiors General who sent us and generously supported us, the project is approaching its initial dream. Many things of this atypical process are ex-plained by the fact that it concerns a country with a socialist regime, the only one in the western hemisphere, and by the challenges that this type of organisation poses to reli-gious life and in a particular way to congregations involved in education.

Our first two brothers who entered were: Efraín Martín (Cuban) and Carlos Martínez Lavín (Mexican), during 2001; in 2002 Héctor Ávalos (Mexican) entered; in 2004 Sal-vador Salinas (Salvadorian) entered and recently on the 2nd February Jesus Bayo (Span-iard coming from Chile) and on the 14th February Carlos Scottá (Brazilian coming from Amazonia) arrived. We thank God, the Institute, our respective Provinces and all those who have helped us in the laborious process, necessary to arrive at this moment. It has demanded voyages, trips, interviews, numerous letters, e-mails, and the availability of material resources and of people. In a special way our gratitude goes to Bishop Emilio Aranguren, former bishop of Cienfuegos and now of Holguín, a former student, who has measured neither his time nor his efforts in supporting our project. We have re-quested the affiliation to the Institute for him which the General Council has recently granted him.

At the current time, we are in two communities, that of Cienfuegos and that of Havana. In Cienfuegos, we are situated in Buenavista, a semi-rural district on the periphery. There are currently three brothers here, an aspirant and a postulant. We are a formation community and at the same time we collaborate with the diocese in three large sectors. The first is the pastoral animation of the parishes of Tulipe, Caonao and Buenavista with a particular attention to the children and young people; we especially organise various activities for them on weekends. The second is the diocesan animation of sev-eral secretariats and commissions: catechesis, youth ministry, missions, social pastoral ministry. Happily this animation does not demand papers and being behind a desk but organising numerous programmes with the boys and the leaders who demand creativity and direct contact with groups and representatives. As well, every day we open our house from three o’clock to six o’clock in the afternoon to the children and the young people of the district so that they can come to practise sport, learn the guitar and enjoy some activities that have a cultural and formative character.

The community of Havana is taking its first steps. We reside in the district of Cogriller which is in the vicinity of the city, which is known under the name of Havana country-side. We have just arrived. Most of our time and our energy is dedicated to supporting the formation of our novices and formators from other congregations. We also work with the youth ministry for the adolescents and children of the parish; we are the only religious community in this zone.

Since our arrival, we have given a greater importance to vocations ministry. We think that the charism of Marcellin is very current, that it is a richness for the Church of Cuba and that it is appreciated by the people and in a particular way by the boys. Our pres-ence in Cuba will only have a future if we are able to pass the baton on to the next gen-eration.

A question that has always been with us since our arrival is: what would Marcellin do if he was in our place? We try to give responses from what we think is at the heart of our Founder. We advance like a tortoise, wanting to practise that in little steps and with a long look and by trying to discover the value of what is small, germinating, progressive and anonymous.

The contact with this Church, this religious life and this people who possess such singu-lar riches and whom we want to serve each day as best we can is an ongoing call to grow in incarnated spirituality. Later in other correspondence we will share with you something of what we have learnt in this area.

Through these lines we ask you to pray to the Lord that he will grant us the grace to increase our effort to centre our lives on Him. May it please God that from there we will develop the art of combining audacity and hope with patience and prudence! We count on the protection of our Good Mother and the help of Marcellin and of the brothers who have preceded us.

Fraternal greetings from José Manuel, Yoandy, Jesús, Carlos, Salvador, Héctor, Efraín, Carlos.

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