Refugees at General House

Feraz - JC Colin - Mafoud
Here at the General House – Villa Santa Maria – we have two Christian Syrian Refugees with us: Mafoud and Feraz. They came to us through the "humanitarian corridor" , a pilot project carried out by the Community of Sant'Egidio, in collaboration with the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches, completely self-funded .They have both learned Italian, are employed, and preparing for a new life….. ​ Here is a summary of Mafoud's story: "The place I come from in Syria has always been fully Christian. Despite the war we have never wanted to be involved. However, in 2013 we were told by the Islamic militia 'if you are not with us you are against us', then they b...
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Marists in Tanna, Vanuatu

Mt Yasur, Tanna, Vanuatu, Oceania
​ Fr Ókustino Epokifoóu writes from Tanna Island, Vanuatu, where the Gospel first arrived in the 19 th Century but met strong resistance. Cargo cults are still active – especially the John Frum cult.It is one of the least developed islands in Vanuatu, and one of the most populated – with some 29,000 people who live mainly from subsistence farming. The Marists were called on mission there in the 1980's. Tanna was one of the Islands most devastated by Cyclone Pam [Category 5] in March 2015 – destroying homes, schools and Churches.The current Marist Community are Fr Eneriko Nacolarara [Sup/PP – Fiji], Okustino Epokifo'ou [VSup/Bur -Tonga], and Louis Maite [Vanuatu - Education]. I enjoy the work...
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40 years ago - refugees in Japan

40 yr sketch from a Vietnamese Refugee
Fr Jim Carty sm, Australia, writes of his missionary years in Japan:  The years 1978 and 1979 are remembered as the high-water mark for the flood of refugee boat people fleeing Vietnam. They had to face storms, diseases, starvation, drowning, and real and frequent plunder and rape by Thai Pirates. The lucky ones were either rescued by passing ships or made it to a shore of a safe country. Estimates of the number of Vietnamese people who died at sea according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees , is the staggering figure of well over 200,000. No exact figure is available. The tens of thousands who did survive were accommodated in the many camps established by the UNHC...
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Mind and Body Wellness

Mary-mother of the new creation
Continuing the blessing of St Paul: "may your spirit, life and body be kept blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" [1 Thess 5:23]                                                                     Mrs. Bobbie Hall,  Class instructor and Department Chair ​writes:                                             ​ Mind and Body Wellness is a new class offered at Notre Dame Preparatory School in P...
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Living Water Foundation - Thailand

Wat Siri students with Brs Jose and Paul fms
Br Paul Murphy fms writes on another Living Water Foundation (LWF) supported school in Thailand:     This school is partially, significantly, and strangely government aided. It is situated near the pleasant surrounds and striking beauty of Wat Sirimonkow in the area of Samut Sakhon about two hours' drive south-west from Bangkok. The two temples (WATS) reflect the spiritual Buddhist culture of both Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). While most of the students are Buddhist there are several Christians too. The school is best described as a day co-educational primary school starting at Kinder and proceeding through to much older children in Grade Six. The school re...
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Breakfast+ for our Homeless

Serving the homeless at St Pat's
Sr Fidelis sm, gives us this good news from St Patrick's Church Hill, Sydney:  Geography played a significant role in our planning Saturday mornings for our guests who sleep on the streets locally. St. Patrick's Church's local area would be familiar to many, either from visits or from tourism displays.  We  are located almost beneath the southern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the route to Central Station at the southern end of the city passes by Hyde Park and the main retail centre, and skirts Darling Harbour. It is noticeable that there is very little service in terms of food for the homeless here in Harrington street compared to areas near Central Station and ...
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Centro Hispano Marista - helping adults get a second chance for education

Second chance for adult Hispanic students
Atlanta is a vibrant city in the Southeast of the United States with an increasing Hispanic immigrant population. Foreign-born residents have felt the anti-immigration rhetoric in the political environment, particularly those young adults who did not know they were not citizens until they tried to get their driving license later in life. The state of Georgia has an estimated 22,180 people who fall into this category and that are eligible for "Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals" or DACA protections. In 2018, according to the Migration Policy Institute, only 35% of the eligible population participate in the program. To be eligible for DACA status, the solicitant must have entered the Unite...
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Ecological conversion: the future of our world

Pope Francis & Greta Thunberg - 17 April Vatican
After the final no there comes a yes, and on that yes the future of the world depends . The above quote, and this article, are presented by Peter Healy sm, NZ, member of the SM Commission for Ecology. These words from the poet Wallace Stevens, are favourite lines of Al Gore the ex American vice-President. He uses them in his environmental campaigning.The nos we hear all around us are many and varied."No, things are not that bad.No, a solution will be found to all this. No, all we need is faith in God.No worries, I can carry on as usual, it's the really bad guys who need to change.No need to to do anything I'll be dead and buried by the time it's a real problem".We hope these nos are growing ...
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St Dympna - for victims of abuse

​ Michael Whelan SM, Parish Priest of St Patrick's, Church Hill,  Sydney established the St Dympna Community in May 2018.   The purpose of the community is to provide a hospitable gathering for victims an  survivors of sexual abuse who want to be part of the Catholic community, but do not feel comfortable attending Mass. The community, of about 12 people,  meets once a month for prayer, sharing scripture, and anointing with oil.   St Dympna is the patron saint of the nervous, emotionally disturbed, mentally ill and sexually abused. Her feast day is May 15th. Saint Dympna (also: Dymphna, Dimpna ) was the daughter of a pagan Irish king and his Christian wife ...
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Sattahip - Superficiality hides the reality

Thailand - Burmese migrant children
Paul Murphy fms, Marist brother writes on a mission in Thailand:   The sweet smell of the sea and the pristine azure sky creates a positive impression. Sattahip is just 30 minutes south of the sex tourism playground of Pattaya - not that it counts for anything to our migrant families. So, take a right turn off the highway onto a long, narrow, winding road and you soon realisethat this road to the coast is a one way in but a no way out for scores of Burmese migrant families. ​ Somehow, they survive in absolute destitution and squalor, eking out a living drying hundreds of tons of silver-sided sardines for Asian markets. There is no factory here as all the salting, cooking, dryi...
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Peace, people, planet, partnership, prosperity

Address of Pope Francis
​This week we   share the address of Pope Francis to participants at the International Conference on Religions and Sustainable Development Goals held at the Vatican from 7 to 9 March 2019. I greet all of you gathered for this International Conference on Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainability and Inclusion When we speak of sustainability, we cannot overlook how important it is to include and to listen to all voices, especially those usually excluded from this type of discussion, such as the voices of the poor, migrants, indigenous people, the young. I am pleased to see a variety of participants at this conference bringing a wide range of voices, of opin...
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Street boys - new life - Dakar

Marits students, Toulon, with street boys
Fr Christian Abongbong writes from Africa:  Giving meaning and orientation of life to street boys in Dakar - Senegal In the year 2005, the Marist family (Fathers, SM Sisters, SMSM and Lay Marists) in Senegal started an association for the rehabilitation of street boys in Dakar city and also for home economics for girls in the poor neighbourhood. Keur Nazareth, as it is known now as "Nazareth Centre", takes care of street boys in Dakar. Since obtaining legal status from the Senegalese government, the team at the Centre has been working tirelessly for the rehabilitation, family and social reintegration of street boys. It is worth noting that this phenomenon is a big social problem in Sene...
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Eco Marist project, Cameroon, Africa

Fr Luigi Salvodelli sm & Albert Kabala sm
Fr Albert Kabala sm, District Superior of Africa, writes: The creation of the agricultural project at Nkoloman in the heart of the central African forest in Cameroon, by the African Marist District started in 2015 by the buying 5 hectares of land. Till date we have planted 7,000 plants of cocoa, 13,000 plants of banana plantains, 75 fruit trees (oranges, plums, avocado, pawpaw) in addition we have a vegetable garden, pineapple farm, a poultry farm, cocoa, yams, maize, sweet potatoes and a fish farm (2,200 three species of fish) where we are using natural methods respecting nature and without chemical products. We have started a well for drinkable water at the farm. " One particularly se...
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Lent, meat and planet

Eat Less Meat - Help the Planet
Lent is upon us, this coming Wednesday, 06 March.  In our Eco-Aware Age, and with the Call of Pope Francis, in Laudato Si, for us to grow in our Ecological Conversion, what can I do to make a difference?  One way is to eat less meat, or go without it for a selected number of days.  Global Catholic Climate Movement -  https://catholicclimatemovement.global/lent-2019/   tells us that according to Yale University and other experts, cattle ranching accounts for approximately 80% of deforestation in Brazil. Cattle ranchers cut down the forest–often illegally, and often by taking it from indigenous people–in order to graze cattle. Sources of deforestation in Braz...
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Beekeeping and our Common Home

​ Pat Brophy sm, NZ, writes:  I've always been interested in beekeeping. At the beginning of last year, reflecting on the call of Pope Francis, to go out to places, people and groups where the church isn't really present was an opportunity to begin beekeeping. ​ I began by attending a beekeeping course presented by the Wellington bee-keepers association .After completing the course I bought a hive last November. We now have four hives and two 'nucs'. The 'nucs' (nucleus hives) are five frames in a smaller box made up of bees, pollen and honey, and a queen cell. These are taken from an overcrowded hive, which is in danger of swarming. Out of the queen cell her majesty will emer...
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Reaching for excellence

Cohort 2021 S ready for a fun and exciting day of learning at Reach for Excellence!
Karen Dessables is Executive Director of Reach for Excellence at Marist School Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She writes from there to share about a fine initiative for students with limited opportunities and resources … "Reach for Excellence" has begun its 18 th year in Atlanta! As a program of the Society of Mary,  it prepares talented middle school students, who possess limited opportunities and resources, to succeed in college preparatory programs. "Limited opportunities and resources" means that the student's family income is "low income". Usually that will also mean that where the family lives, the public school for that area is a Title I school where a certain percentage, ...
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Human trafficking: a crime against humanity

Sr Noelene Simmons SM: awareness-raising in Australia's national capital.
Australian Marist Sister,  Noelene Simmons , locates human trafficking close to home. She writes...  Did you know that millions of women, men, boys and girls are trafficked each year into situations such as domestic servitude, forced labour, sexual exploitation, organ harvesting, force marriage and child slavery? Many people believe that slavery was abolished in the nineteenth century but unfortunately that is not the case. Slavery today does not involve physical but psychological chains as people are convinced they, or their families, will be harmed if they escape. Pope Francis has referred to human trafficking as "a crime against humanity". In 2015 he proclaimed the feast of St J...
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On the Mexican Border at Brownsville, Texas

Tony O'Connor with Soup Kitchen team
  As Peter Chanel, the pro-martyr of Oceania was dying he said "Death is good for me" and this week on the Southern border, in this parish begun by the Marists in 1996 we will hear a similar refrain on this our patronal feast, from the young Felipe de Jesus, our patron and a migrant, the Proto- Martyr of Mexico, one of the Nagasaki martyrs of February the 5th, 1597. He was a Franciscan seminarian returning from Manilla to Mexico to be ordained and was shipwrecked and joined Pablo Miki and companions. He died repeating over and over again the name of "Jesus" "The night is slipping by so quickly. Tomorrow I will die executed on the cross, but I am not afraid." Here in the Rio Grande Valle...
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