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75 Years of Marist Brothers’ presence in Huelva

30/11/2007: Spain

The year 1933 was a difficult year for the Spanish Church. Schools were forbidden to operate as ex professo religious institutions. In the same year, however, in the city of Huelva, Colón College was opened, taking a secular name so as not to trouble the school authorities of the time.

To commemorate the arrival of the Brothers in the city seventy five years ago, an ad hoc committee has organized a series of activities which will take place during the anniversary year.

The inauguration ceremony took place on November 8 in the Casa Colón in the presence of a large gathering. Brother Manuel Jorques, Provincial, was among the speakers. He emphasized the important role of the Christian educator. He encouraged the students, from youngest to oldest, to conduct their lives according to an ideal, and not to lose their sense of self worth amidst the deceitful promises of contemporary society. By their concert given at the beginning of the ceremony, the college’s Champagnat Chorale set the right tone for the occasion.

In attendance were political authorities (the mayor of the city of Huelva and some city councilors), members of the educational establishment (the university Rector and a delegate from the Huelva school district), and church representatives (the emeritus Bishop of the diocese, his Eminence Ignacio Noguer, a Marist old boy).

Earlier, back on October 17, a bronze sculpture was unveiled . . . . in a spot carefully chosen in the school courtyard. The work represents Father Champagnat in the company of a child. Since the unveiling, bouquets of flowers have been left at the base of the statue, and people have come to contemplate the sculpture with appreciation.

Various cultural activities have been scheduled for the year: the presentation of a commemorative stamp, expositions on Marist Brother themes, musical performances. Pastoral actions will also occur: a march for solidarity, setting up a Champagnat display in the college with a collection of his sayings. Sporting events will take place as well, with championship competitions intramural and inter-school. Religious events will not be wanting: a Mass presided by the diocesan Bishop, his Eminence José Vilaplana, a pilgrimage to the patron saint of the city, etc. At the same time, the students will have the opportunity to draw near to Saint Marcellin by a study of his correspondence.

A book will be issued on the history of the college. José María Segovia, a journalist and member of the school’s first graduating class, is the author. In the school chapel a new retable will be installed. In addition, we expect to plant a tree in the garden, a way of recalling to future generations the 75th anniversary celebrations. Then, on June 6 the series of commemorative events will draw to a close by way of a gala dinner.

At the time that the Marist Brothers arrived in Huelva, Catholic instruction was at a low ebb. A girls college existed but there was none for boys. The humble education establishment opened its doors on October 2, 1933. Today the school counts more than 1200 students from infant to secondary level.

In the recent past, College Colón received Pope John Paul II. In was on June 14, l993, that he visited Spain and came to the Huelva diocese. The courtyard of the school served as a landing area for the papal helicopter. The first thing that the Holy Father did was to pay a visit to the Brothers of the community.

Br. José Delgado García

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