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JUNE 2022
 
Please enjoy this newsletter and share it with anybody you think would like to learn more

about exciting developments throughout our Marist world!

 

A group of 22 young brothers from around the world are gathered in Rome together with some slightly more seasoned brothers for the Gier Program, a month-long renewal opportunity for Marist Brothers who have professed final vows within the last five years.

 
 
 
Some Marist News from May
 
  • May 10: Eight young men officially began their Marist novitiate in Tudella, Sri Lanka. Five came from Timor-Leste, two from Vietnam, and one from Cambodia. Let us remember to pray for them! 
  • May 12: The Marist International Mission Commission released a new text on the topic of Human Potential.
  • May 13: A months-long training program to develop servant leadership among Marist Brothers and Lay Marists across the world kicked off virtually. The program includes 60 Spanish- and Portuguese- speaking Marists from 19 different countries throughout Europe, Africa, and the Americas. The program will culminate in October with an in-person session to be held in Brazil.   
  • May 14: A meeting of the Marist Family of the Province of Compostela took place in Fatima, two days after hundreds of students had converged on the site for an annual pilgrimage experience.
  • May 17: The African Lay and Brothers Commission met on-line with Marist superiors throughout the African continent to study and advance the further development of the Lay Marist vocation throughout Africa. 
  • May 20: On the anniversary of St. Marcellin Champagnat's birth, the Marist Institute launched a global Year of Marist Vocations with virtual and in-person celebrations taking place across the globe to mark the occasion. This vocation year aims to promote and support both Marist Brothers' and Lay Marist vocations.
  • May 27-28: Our Superior General, Bro. Ernesto Sánchez, spoke at the 27th Inter-American Catholic Education Congress held in México.
  • May 27-30: More than 150 young Marists throughout the USA came together with a number of Marist Brothers and Lay Marists in Esopus, New York for an annual Marist Youth Gathering.

A Moment in Marist History: 

Brother Alessandro Di Pietro: Righteous among the Nations

Since 1963, Israel's World Holocaust Remembrance Center (Yad Vashem) has bestowed the title of "Righteous Among the Nations" upon non-Jews who risked their own lives in order to save Jews from extermination during the Holocaust. Since 2001, the Marist Brother Alessandro di Pietro has been officially counted among their number.

From 1943-1944, Marist Brothers in Rome sheltered Jews in the boarding facilities of their own San Leone Magno Institute in order to provide refuge from the roundups taking place throughout the city. Using counterfeit identification cards that Bro. Angelo Oreggia was able to attain through his friendship with local government officials, the school was able to enroll as boarding students 24 Jewish boys from Italy, Germany, and Poland. Because of their ability to easily mix in with the other boarders, their safety was practically guaranteed.

Twelve adult boarders were also received, including a Polish rabbi, two German professionals, and Italian military deserters. Because the adult boarders would not have been able to stay on site during the day without arousing suspicion, they ventured out into Rome whenever school was in session. Nonetheless, there was fear that a surprise nighttime police inspection could uncover the arrangement and endanger everybody involved. As such, the principal of the school, Brother Alessandro di Pietro, met with the men to agree upon a warning signal and plan a strategy for them to hide and then escape if they were ever detected. Thankfully, no such inspection ever came to pass.

One of the children who had been sheltered at San Leone Magno became a professor at the University of Jerusalem and eventually an Israeli ambassador; he worked diligently in his adulthood to identify and locate Bro. Alessandro in order to formally recognize his courageous and compassionate act of solidarity.

Bro. Alessandro was recognized by Yad Vashem at the age of 94, but he made a point of stating that the momentous decision to shelter the Jewish children and adults had been agreed to by the whole community of Marist Brothers and was only possible because of their shared willingness to assume the risk of grave consequences if their act had been uncovered.

Years after the experience at San Leone Magno, Bro. Alessandro became Postulator General of the Marist Brothers and coordinated the process of Marcellin Champagnat's beatification in 1955. In 2019, San Leone Magno was officially named a "House of Life" in recognition of the safe haven offered there by Alessandro and his Marist Brothers.