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Br. Salvio and Br. Lino Fernando

 

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Two more Parallel Lives

25/10/2007: General House

This text is an introduction to the life of Brothers Salvio and Lino Fernando written by Brother Jesus María Martínez Gómez, highlighting the vocational atmosphere in which these Marist vocations arose, the generational renewal of the Institute when the French Brothers in Spain began to leave the Marist work in the hands of the Spanish Brothers, the simple Marist life with which they began their apostolate and which was cut short by a premature and violent death. The story is narrated in a graphic, lively and passionate language. The work is published in Caracas by the Brothers of the Province of Norandina.

A curiosity discussed in the family

Yes, in the Marist Family. In Champagnat College, Caracas, the Fraternity Saint Marcellin Champagnat of THE MARIST CHAMPAGNAT FAMILY MOVEMENT, began in June 5 1990.

We find ourselves in February of 2003. Venezuela is living through very critical days of political and social upheaval. The whole country has suffered the consequences of unemployment which began on the first of December 2002 and continued until this February. The educational centres suspended their work throughout that time and have only now renewed them on the 10th of this month.

Now that the College has recovered its normal rhythm of academic activity, it has resumed the extra scholastic work in all the organizations depending on it. The members of the Fraternity Saint Marcellin Champagnat greet the New Year commencing on 17th February and, of course, we wish everyone every success, and we pray that these will be translated into the return to peace and the progress we so long for.

Brother Jesus Mª Martínez Gómez, our Counsellor, has distributed among us some copies of Marist Echoes and several other informative bulletins, from our General House in Rome and from our new-born Province (02.01.03). It is worth noting that the reason the Province is called NORANDINA is that it embraces Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela which are the three countries that extend along the NORth part of the ANDINA (ANDEAN) mountain range.

On the his initial and rapid glance at the documentation received, Brother Pablo Skroche - do not forget that we constitute a fraternity – immediately discovered sensational news: that it is very possible that in the programme of activities of the Vatican for next year 2004 is included the beatification of the first Marist Brothers Martyrs from Spain; concretely of Brothers Bernardo (Plácido Fabrega Julià), murdered in Barruelo of Santullán (Palencia) in 1934, Laurentino (Mariano Alonso Fuente) who was the Provincial, and FORTY FIVE more Brothers, machine-gunned together in Barcelona in 1936.

When reviewing the names of these Marist heroes, we notice one of them: Brother Salvio (Victoriano Gómez Gutiérrez), an unusual name in Venezuela, and completely unknown to us; and which, surprisingly, coincides with the E-mail of our Brother Counsellor: salvio@colegiochampagnst.e12.ve

So, in confidence, - Pablo asks -: Brother Jesus Mª., being a Marist, is there any connection with that glorious martyr whose name is on the e- mail?

- We are uncle and nephew. The soon-to-be-beatified is my mother’s brother. I am telling you this because they are both living... in heaven.

- Congratulations! I am sure that all our fraternity, including myself, feels the strong desire to find out more biographical details of a Marist Brother Martyr who is the uncle of our Brother Counsellor. How can we do this?

- If in our coexistence we have become familiar with the eminent and holy figures of Saint Marcellin Champagnat, we can also dedicate time to the study of the legion of Brothers who day after day have to scale the altars by means of their heroic living of the most genuine Marist spirit, many of them sealing it with martyrdom. Without going farther, in the same list of those announced to be beatified, there also figures Brother Lino Fernando (Victor Gutiérrez Gómez) who shared long years with my uncle and they were sacrificed together. Even more: we are related and born in the same municipality although in a different ecclesiastical parish. Both of them will be able to offer exemplary features of their lives which will be a great encouragement for us.
- And now I have another idea: their biographies will not be written. Why not gather all the biographical features of those heroes that you have to offer us to perhaps publish a book, or at least a pamphlet?
- It is possible, and we will try to do it. They will become another couple of parallel lives in the style of those gathered by the Greek historian Plutarch (46-120 B.C.); but very Marist in their simplicity, and more glorious because the goal reached was sanctity.

And we would like to mention that Plutarch himself points out in his introduction to the biography of the Greek Alexander the Great whose Roman peer is Julius Caesar: “We will not write histories but lives. Because it is not in the noisiest actions that virtue or vice are manifested, but rather many times through small actions of the moment or some small thing which portray a character better than battles in which many thousands die.”

The heroism of our two Marist Brothers did not have, humanly speaking, anything out of the ordinary. It was based on following day after day with the greatest possible perfection that action of the daily moment recommended by obedience; and in suffering quietly, in a Christian manner, with co-redemptive spirit, the pains of chronic illness, of their living Calvary.

Their truly glorious end consisted in spilling their blood in the practice of their Christianity, and as religious belonging to an Institute dedicated to the education of young people and youth so that they may become good Christians and excellent citizens; the ideal proposed to them by Saint Marcellin Champagnat.

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