Please enjoy this newsletter and share it with anybody you think would like to learn more about exciting developments throughout our Marist world!
- June 3: In anticipation of St. Marcellin Champagnat's Feast Day three days later, Bro. Ernesto Sánchez, our Superior General, issued his new message to all Marists: "With Marcellin, take the long view..."
- June 6: Five new Marist Brothers from Haiti professed their first vows at a Mass in Jérémie. On the same occasion that Bros. Johnner, Jonel, Nesly, Oudiére, and Winé made their first commitment, an additional three Marist Brothers renewed their temporary vows. 12 Further Marist Brothers had already renewed their temporary vows three days earlier in Port-au-Prince.
- June 6: In the USA, 42 Lay Marists made their formal commitment to continue living out our shared mission and charism as Marists of Champagnat.
- June 6: Nine new Marist Brothers made their first profession at our novitiate in Save, Rwanda. Brothers who attend this novitiate come from the Provinces of East Central Africa and Madagascar.
- June 6: In Sampran, two young Thai men entered their next respective stages of initial formation with the Marist Brothers. Patrick is now a novice, and Teresio is now a candidate.
- June 6: Marists of Champagnat in Maicao, Colombia celebrated the second anniversary of "A Heart without Borders," a ministry serving migrant families from Venezuela and Colombia.
- June 8-9: At its Annual National Conference, held virtually this year, the Catholic Media Association in the USA honored Bro. Dan O'Riordan for his first two books, both released in 2020: A Plan B Camino 2020 took first place in the Pilgrimages / Catholic Travel Category, and Never Too Young to Change the World placed second in the Pastoral Ministry - Youth & Young Adult category.
- June 12: A group of 20 new Marist Brothers from the District of West Africa and the Province of Nigeria professed first vows in Kumasi, Ghana: Bros. Nsom Clovis and Wirsiy from Cameroon, Bros. Alladoum and Dingamadji from Chad, Bro. Kouassi from Côte d'Ivoire, Bro. Gregory from Ghana, and Bros. Akalite Emmanuel, Ebokpo Mark, Eze Christian, Ezenwamba Godwin, Iorbee Mathias, Ndife Chigozie, Ngamefule Claret, Nor Bundebuun, Nweze Michael, Ogiri God'swill, Omengui Saviour, Onozie Cyprial, Orugbala Nnabuike, and Ozour Jeremiah from Nigeria.
A Moment in Marist History:
Marists of Champagnat today owe a great deal to Bro. Jean-Baptiste, the prolific chronicler of early Marist life. Thanks to his efforts, we remain familiar not only with Father Champagnat, but also with Bros. Francois, Laurent, Sylvestre, Stanislas, and many more. The warm regard with which Jean-Baptiste clearly held his brothers continues to serve as an example for us today.
Jean-Baptiste Furet was born in 1807 in the Haute-Loire area of France in the Diocese of Le Puy. Though he grew up on a farm, Jean-Baptiste suffered from weak health that prevented him from joining in typical farm labor. Instead, he learned how to make lace in order to supplement the family income. His early character evidenced both a spirit of genuine piety and lively mischief.
At the age of 14, Jean-Baptiste found himself at the first Marist community in LaValla. He was among a group of young men who had mistakenly thought they were on their way to seek admission to the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Although that whole group decided to join Champagnat’s brothers in spite of this initial confusion, Jean-Baptiste was one of only two to live the rest of his life as a Marist Brother. Nevertheless, he was among the first of many to enter from the Haute-Loire.
In October 1822, Jean-Baptiste received the Marist habit, almost six months after he entered community. Soon afterward, he was sent to replace a brother who had left his role as director of a school and community in order to join the Trappists. In spite of his young age, Jean-Baptiste was relatively well-suited to the task, having been a gifted student in his childhood. Nonetheless, his poor health remained an issue as it would throughout his life; in February 1823, it was the sick Bro. Jean-Baptiste that Marcellin and Stanislas had gone to visit when they nearly perished in the snow trying to return home. By the time he was 32 and began to assume governance responsibilities, Jean-Baptiste had served at numerous schools and founded two of them.
Shortly before Champagnat’s death, Bro. Jean-Baptiste was named one of two Assistants to Bro. Francois, our first Superior General. After only a couple years though, he was given the particular responsibility of governing our Province of St Paul-Trois-Châteaux, where another group of religious brothers had just merged into our own. Jean-Baptiste worked to incorporate these brothers fully into our own Institute. His leadership over 18 years also saw this Province grow from about 40 brothers working in 13 schools to nearly 400 Brothers ministering in 80 schools. He had similar success when he was later tasked once more with overseeing the merger of another group of brothers into our own.
Bro. Jean-Baptiste was known as a tireless worker and great supporter of anybody who sought his aid. As a faithful correspondent to a number of young Brother Directors in need of guidance and ongoing formation, he was fond of saying, “You have got the devil to discourage you. As for me, my job is to always encourage you.”
Jean-Baptiste Furet spent many years during which writing was his primary work. His meditations and conferences were held in universally high regard, and he never stopped compiling histories and pieces of wisdom that would inform our Marist patrimony. The impact that his biography of Champagnat had on the Marist family is revealed by the simple comment from Bro. Francois, “that it recalled marvelously the Founder amongst his brothers.” He also continued to write theological works. Even on the day of his death in 1872, he was reviewing and correcting proofs of his final work, a collection of writings on the Incarnation.
The Superior General at the time of Jean-Baptiste’s death, Bro. Louis Marie, expressed his high regard for the departed, referring to him as a second Founder of sorts, who had the special mission of completing the Institute that had been begun by Father Champagnat. To preserve the memory of this remarkable historian, Louis-Marie asked brothers throughout the Institute to submit any memory of him they had, regardless of how trivial, so that others could benefit in the future. These submissions, together with Furet’s own correspondences, were used in 1917 to create a biography of Bro. Jean-Baptiste in order to celebrate the centenary of the Marist Brothers. This biography has never been published.