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Marist Cote d’Ivoire celebrates 50 years

12/06/2019: Côte dIvoire - Photo gallery

This is just a beginning!
Bro. Aureliano García

On June 1st all roads led to St Paul Gonfreville Parish, Bouaké for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Marist Brothers in Côte d’Ivoire. The Eucharistic celebration was preceded by a march by students, teachers, priests, religious men and women, parishioners and other invited guests accompanied by a local band as we danced and gave thanks to God for all his blessings, guidance and protection upon us.

We were privileged to have Br Juan Carlos (Provincial of Mediterennea) with a delegation of six Brothers from Spain, Br Cyprian Gandeebo (District Superior), brothers from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon who responded to our invitation for the great celebration. The Eucharistic celebration was well animated by the students of Centre Scolaire St Marcelin Champagnat, Bouaké with a few students from Champagnat Korhogo. In his homily, Reverend Father Maxim Kouakou, vicar general of the archdiocese of Bouaké retraced the history of the arrival of the first Marist Brothers (Cayetano Quintana, Javier Goñi, Antonio Capel, Jesus Jarauta and Luis Minguillon) to Côte d’Ivoire. He thanked the Brothers for their immense contribution towards the education of the youths through schools, the teaching of catechism in the parishes and their active participation in the vocation ministry in the archdiocese. He also encouraged the Brothers to continue bearing witness to the Gospel values which they profess with great zeal and enthusiasm. Finally, he challenged the Brothers to expand to other regions of the country as the dream of St Marcelin was to have Brothers present in all the dioceses in the world.

Towards the end of the Eucharistic celebration, a solemn procession was organized with 50 students from the rear of the Church to the altar with 50 candles which they lit and placed on a special Jubilee symbol designed for the occasion. The Brothers and lay faithful then recited the prayer for the Jubilee of the Marist Presence in Côte d’Ivoire, thanking God for all he has done and praying for more blessings upon Marist Côte d’Ivoire.

The liturgical ceremony ended with a few speeches by Br Cyprian (District Superior), Br Juan Carlos (Provincial), Br Germain (the representative of the District Superior in Côte d’Ivoire) and Fr Komenan Francois (the parish priest of St Paul de Gonfreville). They all thanked God for the work being done by the Brothers and invited them to continue to do more for the education of the youths and marginalized. The parish priest went further to state that he was a priest because of the Marist Brothers.

The last part of the ceremony took place at the Centre Scolaire St Marcelin Champagnat where a meal was shared with all the invited guests

We thank God for leading Marist Côte d’Ivoire all this far after 50 years of Marist Presence. Let us pray that the Marist Mission in Cote d’Ivoire will continue to bear witness to the Gospel values and that there will be more vocations for it to expand to other parts of the country….


50 years in the Ivory Coast: and this is just a beginning! 

50 years have passed since the first Marists arrived in the Ivory Coast. Cayetano Quintana, Javier Goñi, Antonio Capel, Jesus Jarauta, Luis Minguillón… Later, many more arrived. Brothers who wore out their sandals in the winding roads of red earth connecting each part of the forest and, further north, tracing the less than visible routes that cross the savannah. Brothers who dedicated their lives to the people of the Ivory Coast, seeking them out and educating them. They learned to dream dreams together, where the sun of fraternity lit up the dawn of a new world, similar to the one that God imagined at the beginning of time. 

The celebration of these days in Bouaké has been a memorial, a shared Sacrament filled with music and dance, of happiness and colour that are only possible in Africa. A vibrant memory of dedicated lives, capable of moving mountains. We have remembered the names of all of these Brothers and we have toasted the memory of José Antonio Ruiz, Miguel Angel Isla and many others who have already left us. We have celebrated the life of the Brothers from the Ivory Coast and the District of West Africa, hundreds of lay men and women who gave the best of themselves to the service of the mission in Bouaké, Korhogo, Toumodi and Dimbokro. And we are reminded of the children and young Ivorians who study in our schools, the lepers of Chrétienkro whom we have accompanied for many years, to the dioceses, parishes, priests, catechists, educators of Catholic schools and students with whom we have shared so much time. We have remembered the associations, ONGs and volunteers that have linked their lives forever with ours, of the ONG SED and of the Marist Province of Mediterránea

50 years of looking back, yes. But also being encouraged to go forward with audacity and creativity. Because dreams are never enough… we give thanks to God for so much life. We are a great family that has the good fortune to live at home with Our Good Mother. The dream of Marcellin has taken root in these West African lands. We are already 50 years old. And this is just the beginning…! 

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Br. Aureliano García Manzanal 

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