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29 January

Saint Julian
1826, Father Champagnat went to convalesce with Father Dervieux, parish priest of Saint Peter’s at Saint-Chamond

Marist Calendar - January

« All the dioceses enter into our plans… »



The parish of Tulipán

20/06/2013: Cuba - Photo gallery

When Marcellin wrote, in his letter of 15 February 1837 to Mgr Philibert de Brouillard, Bishop of Grenoble : « All the dioceses of the world enter into our plans » (Letter 93, 22), he was surely not thinking, in a specific way, of the country of Cuba, nor of the diocese of Cienfuegos, nor of the parish of Tulipán, even if he did not exclude them from his apostolic and missionary vision. How is it, then, that we Marists have landed in this pleasant quarter of hollows and hills, ruffled palm trees and majestic kapoc trees, with carts drawn by good old horses and the infectious joy of the pioneritos (in Cuba, « pioneros » are the children who attend primary school) who, every morning, take the uneven roads to come to school ?

Here is a brief chronicle of this adventure, which is divided into two chapters.

We arrived in Cuba and in Cienfuegos in 1903. On the edge of the city of Cienfuegos, also known as the Pearl of the South, is the quarter of Tulipán. In 1959, the free primary school of « The Immaculate Conception » began operation. Two years later, in 1961, this school was taken over by the revolutionary government in consequence of the law of 6 June the same year. From that date, this building, which was well constructed and has not stopped functioning as a school, took the name of the Pedro Suárez Oroma School. Today, it continues as a primary school and has a roll of 904. It is a public lay school situated opposite the parish church of Christ the King.

The second chapter began in 2001, when we Marists – by a stroke of destiny, or by God in his marvellous Providence – returned to Cienfuegos, in this same parish. Since then, we have taken on the catechesis of the children and young people and we organise sporting and training activities in the quarter of Tulipán.

There has been a series of meetings, which has inspired the community of Christ the King with the happy idea of setting up in the church an image of Marcellin Champagnat. This gives us the opportunity to make the fruit correspond to the root. Marcellin, founder of the Marists, heart that knows no bounds : the root, with the fruit : a school and a quarter which, on different levels, have received the life-giving seed of his charism as educator and evangelizer.

The unveiling of the image took place on Sunday 9 June during the liturgy. We began that day with the well-known hymn : « Lord, they go out with joy, those who go, in life, sowing your peace and love… ». Then there was a community prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of  Marcellin. We continued the well-animated paraliturgy, during which we had the chance to receive communion, and we concluded with the hymn to the Virgin of Caridad del Cobre : « Mother, you who on the land of Cuba pour your love from the heights of heaven, mother of the poor and those who suffer, sow within us a union full of love… »

Please God that the visible presence of Marcellin in our parish church may be a permanent reminder inviting the parents and educators of the quarter to grow in love of the children and to realize what was, for him, a pedagogical credo : « To educate a child, you must love him ». Please God that all the children who, each day, come to school with their bag over their shoulder, hurrying, exchanging and joking together, seek to know something of the life of our dear Founder and thus receive his inspiration and his courage.

Marcellin, you caught a glimpse of the children of our quarter when you encountered Jean-Baptiste Montagne, that distant day of 28 October 1816, and you decided to found a Congregation of Brothers who would give their life to the Christian education of children and young people ! God be praised for your incarnate love and your ability to read the signs of the times ! May we know today how to read our daily situation with your eyes and your heart and may we find answers full of evangelical audavity, creative and lasting !

Br Carlos Martínez Lavín

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