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3 August

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An approach to the figure of the Founder in the Province of Mediterránea

02/08/2007: Spain

Because Brother Fernando Hinojal was part of the Co-ordination Team for the Patrimony Course held in Rome in 1993 and assisted Brother Carlos José Hidalgo in the CEPAM course organised by Brother Aureliano Brambila, a serious approach to the figure of Father Champagnat through the study of his letters: letters and other documents has been started in the Province of Mediterránea.
The first thing to be done was the development of a plan that was shared into three cycles:
In Cycle A, the active and passive correspondence from 1823 to 1836 is studied; that is to say the letters from Marcellin and the letters addressed to him, as well as those that speak of him. In Cycle B, the object of the analysis is the active and passive correspondence from 1837 and 1838, with the testimonies that relate to the Founder.
Finally, in Cycle C, the work focuses on the active and passive correspondence from 1839 and 1849, to which is added matters related to Marist legislation.
Each of these three cycles corresponds to a course that lasts for three weeks in summer, eight hours each day. The Plan includes a total of 480 hours. The summer of 2004 saw the start of the first course.
The system of work consists in analysing the letters according to a criterion of historical investigation. Having the use of an ample library with books and specialised magazines, brochures and other material related to the patrimony of the Institute, as well as computerised means, each of the participants prepares the proposed documents following a very concrete questionnaire that facilitates the deepening of the contents. Then he shares with the other course members the conclusions to which he has come. All of this is developed in a context of reflection, dialogue, prayer and in an environment of pleasant familiarity.
“By confronting direct documents – says Brother Fernando Hinojal – we discover a very human Champagnat, very close to the brothers; a Father who loves his children, the brothers; with a human heart; very sensitive to the values of the person. What is interesting in this experience is that we discover Marcellin directly: no one tells us who he is, we discover him ourselves.”
The courses are directed and co-ordinated by a team of three brothers. At least two of them are always present. Given the method employed, the number of participants in each course cannot exceed ten people.
Up to the present, fifteen brothers of the Province have already participated, of whom a half have finished the three cycles. As well, there is also a demand for these courses among the brothers of El Escorial, but with a different rhythm and time distribution.
One of the brothers who has finished the three cycles summed up his experience: “I consider it a grace and a gift from God to have consecrated this time to know Champagnat and that has made me love him more and appreciate him in an admiring way.”

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