His Highness the Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamassese Efi and Masiofo Filifilia at the celebrations last Saturday
BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA: WEDNESDAY 27 JULY 2016: “The sun will always rise, and with it a fresh dawn is announced. A new day sees new light and gives new hope and life. A new hope for love, kindness, gentleness, simplicity, humility and for the enduring patience of our Mother Mary,”
This was the message relayed by His Highness the Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamassese Efi during the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Marist Order at the Tu’utu’uileloloto Hall in the weekend.
The Order emerged out of the challenges and struggles faced by the French people during the French Revolution and played a major part in the dream of 12 young men and women of the Catholic seminary.
After France’s defeat at Waterloo, the country was in chaos, people were displaced, orphans neglected and there was no help for the destitute and confused.
Help did come at last. But not in a way political, but through the courageous stance made by 12 young men and women of a certain seminary that eventually founded the Marist Order.
“It was the dawn of a new day, new light and the beginning of 200 years of service rendered by Marist family,” said His Highness.
“Rising is elemental to the nature of the sun, and it indicates love which is eternally of God, a love that never fades or withers. It is always new and forthcoming, and so is hope,” he said.
He said however hard and long the struggles and difficulties, people and nations will always see the day, and it is heralded by the rising of the sun.
“Today we remember the day in Fouvierre, France, where 12 newly ordained young men and women came together to envision a new kind of church.”
Last weekend, Samoa joined other Marist families around the world to celebrate the Order’s 200 years. The Marists have been in Samoa for 170 years and have given significant service to the spiritual life, education, sports and other fields in Samoa.
History of the Marist family
Brother John Hazelman reflected on the history of the Marist family.
Two hundred years ago, a 12 year old French boy, Jean Claude Chovain, who was nearly blind prayed continuously to Mother Mary and regularly visited her statute.
His faith cured him of his bad vision, and to thank Mary, he visited the statute of Mary to pray. It was there that he heard a voice saying “I want you to start a new group using the name Mary, which will glorify God.”
Jean was a member of the seminary and he shared what he heard or dream with other seminary boys.
To his surprise, several boys had the same dream, and it was from that dream that the Marist Brothers was born.
Jean and 11 other seminary brothers and sisters then decided to put the dream into practice based on faith.
“They climbed the hill to a basilica dedicated to the Lady of Fouvierre, to commit themselves to live the dream, to start a new congregation, the a Society of Mary, and that is what we are celebrating today,” said Brother John.
They pledged to the Lady of Fouvierre and to the work of Mary in the church, to make Jesus known and loved throughout the world and to make the world know and honour Mary.
“This was the inspiration and dedication and the mission of the Marists, placing themselves under Mary’s care, and calling themselves Marists.”
Under the Society of Mary were other small groups of the Marist family such as the Marist Priests, the Marist Brothers, the Marist Sisters, the Third Order of Mary, the Marist Missionary Sisters and various groups of Marist Laity.
It was under the flag of Mother Mary that members of the newly formed Society spread out in the world to preach the good news, which arrived in Samoa 170 years ago.
Tw priests, a Marist brother and several Samoans who were at Wallis and Futuna travelled with the group to Samoa and came upon Salā and Tuala, who cordially welcomed them onshore and hence the Catholic church in Samoa.
The faith quickly spread and some of the successful stories of their presence are evident in some of the Cathedrals and Catholic schools named after these priests and brothers.
The first Bishop for the Pacific was ordained at where the St. Mary Savalalo School is currently located.
The new vision
In forming a new vision, the church reflects on the Marion face of the church where people can grow together and live by good values.
“The church makes a choice for compassion over a competition, an option for relationship, for humility over power and for service over dominance,” said Brother John
“The Church pushes boundaries to include all people and feminine in its attitudes, which can be too easily become over muscular,” he said.
The Church with her Marion face does not need to create bigger things and to ensure that God is properly honored.
“As we recall and relive the pledge of Fouvierre, let us continue to faithfully forge new ways to make Jesus known and loved throughout the whole world and in turn making Mary known and honored by all her children.”
The celebratory mass was led by Archbishop Alapati Lui Mateiliga at the Mulivai Cathedral.
The celebration was attended by various groups of the Marist family and students from Channel College entertained the guests by re-enacting the story of how the Marist Order or Catholics arrived in Samoa 170 years ago.