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You are here:Home / Family News / NEF 2009 / Family News - 2009 March 14th
Feb 28, 2009

Family News - 2009 March 14th


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A word from the Superior General


The Guardian of Love

Reading Fr Etchecopar’s letters I have come across some expressions which made me stop and think:  “Love for crucified Love! Love for the Mother of Love! Love for the Guardian of Love!” (Corr.294)  “It is perhaps quite close at hand, the moment of a new separation when our dear Suzanne will see the end of so many struggles and sufferings and will come face to face with Jesus, our Love, our infinite Treasure, our perfect happiness without cloud and without ending!” (Corr. 356)
A writer who St Michael loved to read, Bossuet, wrote this: “Of all the vocations, I have noticed two in Scripture which are diametrically opposed: the first one is the vocation of the apostles and the second one is that of Joseph. Jesus is revealed to the apostles, Jesus is revealed to Joseph, but with very different conditions. He is revealed to the apostles for them to announce him in the whole wide world; he is revealed to Joseph to be kept hidden. The apostles are to be lights to show Jesus Christ to the world; Joseph is to be a veil to keep him hidden. Under this mysterious veil Mary’s virginity and the greatness of the Saviour of the world are hidden from us.” (2nd Panegyrique on St Joseph).
St Joseph risked his life to protect Mary and Jesus-Love.  The vulnerability of Love! He risked it when he changed his opinion and attitude: instead of repudiating her, he took Mary into his home for she was carrying the fruit of the Spirit, Jesus (Matt 1, 19-24). He risked it when he took Mary and the Child and fled into Egypt, to be safe from Herod who was looking to kill the Child (Matt 2, 13-15) And he risked it when he brought the Child and his Mother back to Nazareth where they settled.  (Matt 2, 21-23).
As guardian, St Joseph certainly followed attentively as Jesus grew in stature, in wisdom, in grace and in Love. In that Love with which he was already familiar in the heart of the Trinity.  In this same Love with which he learned to live like the rest of men by becoming man:  Love incarnate.  As guardian St Joseph noticed how Jesus was attentive to the different tokens and little details of the hidden life, in community in the house in Nazareth. 
Jesus would have been aware of the respect, affection, gentleness and maturity with which Joseph treated Mary.  How Joseph loved Mary! From Joseph Jesus would have learned to respect women: his mother Mary, the women who followed him and supported him with their goods – Martha, Mary, Mary Magdalene, the widow of Naim, the sinner who poured precious ointment on his feet and of whom he said: “If her sins, her many sins are forgiven her, it is because of her great love” (Luke 7, 47).
As he observed his guardian, Jesus would have learned to give precedence, to take the smallest portion, not to impose his opinions, to renounce himself: to recognise, purify and direct movements for love’s sake which is also a gift of self..
In the home, Jesus would have learned to put up with every situation, the daily cross:  the problems of life together in Nazareth, lack of work by times, payment for an order which was late in coming and how little there was to eat then.  From Joseph and Mary he would have learned to be surprised (Luke 2, 18; 2,33; 2,48) and praise the Father for his gifts; for example on returning to Nazareth from Egypt, and on returning home after finding Jesus in the midst of the doctors in the Temple.
From Mary and Joseph he would have learned to interiorise his experiences and in them discover the will of his Father who sees all things  in secret (Matt 6, 4.6.18).
From Joseph Jesus would have learned to help others, to say a consoling word to a client;  he will have learned to serve. As a youngster, at a signal from Joseph he would have ran to fetch some water to wash the feet of pilgrims at the door.
From Joseph and Mary, Jesus learned to trust others; as he grew up, he saw that Joseph gave him more difficult tasks in the workshop, and helped him in finishing off.  He admired the mutual trust which existed between Mary and Joseph!
He will have often noticed how Joseph renounced being right, and accepted to lose through love for Mary, and to maintain the unity of the couple and of the family.  What enhanced value was placed on individuals and what a school of love and forgiveness!
From Joseph, Jesus would have learned a sense of responsibility and the satisfaction of work well done.
From Joseph and Mary he will have learned that personal whims have no place in daily relations.  He will have noticed many times that Joseph had only one worry: the well being of Jesus and Mary, even if he himself kept in the background, and even if he didn’t always understand.  These attitudes must surely have prompted him this phrase which we often come across in the Gospels: He who loses his life will save it.  (Mark 8,35 and others)
What must have been his sorrow and his anguish the day when the Guardian lost Love!  What a disappointment and what a humiliation!  How he must have berated himself for having failed in his duty and his vocation! “See how your father and I have suffered looking for you!” (Luke 2,48).  It is the paradox of love: he who had shown that he was able to take all risks to protect Jesus, Love, felt the contradiction of having lost him in spite of himself. His reply reveals the true mission of the one Joseph had been protecting for years: “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2,49) It is as if the veil which had been covering the mystery was suddenly lifted. Such is the divine pedagogy.  Joseph enters the mystery of the Father’s love: “Although he was the Son, Jesus learned to obey through the sufferings of his Passion” (Heb 5,8)  He who from all eternity had experienced the Father’s Love, has to learn to live out this same love as man and in the midst of men, through suffering and self denial: Love became flesh and St Joseph, the Guardian of Love, watches over his apprenticeship in the middle of mankind.

Gaspar Fernandez,SCJ 

nef-etchecopar.jpgFr Auguste Etchecopar wrote... to his brother Évariste, March 22nd 1861

We have reached a point where man wants to manage without God at all costs, and without the Church and where man wants to take their place; we have returned to Pagan times, to the God-Caesar, to the God-Satisfaction. Happy those who remain steadfast in faith, those who will be firmly rooted on the word of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who will be joyful in hope and patient in trials. In any case, whatever happens to us: Forward march!  In any case, whatever happens will be God’s will; I  will lie down in peace, and sleep comes at once (Ps 4,9). So you see how happy I am!  Happy in God’s service!  Happy in tranquillity! Happy in anguish!  Happy in success and in failure!  Happy in the enjoyment of the present moment and the uncertainties of tomorrow!  Why? The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want… (Ps 23,1) (…) Who can separate me from his Love? What have I to fear and where could I not be well off?

How to revive our apostolic spirit ?


I cant renew my apostolic spirit without spiritual renewal.
I must live according to the spiritual and evangelical values so as to pass them on to others.  The Apostolate is neither a social activity nor propaganda.  It is first and foremost the radiance of what we are and what we do. Every apostle must, therefore, strive after the interior life and spirituality.

Today there is a real longing for authenticity and truth.
Our apostolic witness must be founded on the truth of our prayer, the reality of our evangelical and fraternal life.  We must prove to those around us that prayer, the Gospel and the community are the values on which I have been able to build my life.  However, it’s not always easy to be “true”.

Let’s not forget the magnificent text of the Council Vatican IInd.
“In the Institutes of apostolic life, apostolic action belongs to the very nature of Religious Life. Consequently, the entire religious life of their members must be filled with the apostolic spirit and all apostolic action must be driven by the religious spirit” (Perfectae Caritatis 8).
The great danger for us is when a pastoral activity becomes a professional activity, without reference to Christ.

Today all apostolate demands formation.
You can’t improvise! Be interested in the life of the Church in general and in the life of my local Church.  Have the soul of a missionary, open to the life of the Church and the problems of the people I meet.

Nothing replaces the great love which should move us.
In a way, to be an apostle it is enough to love.  One never grows tired of loving.  Love can die out.

The four great fidelities which should drive our apostolic life:
Fidelity to Christ and his Gospel.
Fidelity to the Church and her mission in the world.
Fidelity to our fellow men.
Fidelity to the charism of the founder.

Conclusion: “To be able to stand up in the midst of mankind, one must be able to kneel before God”. (Father Jacques Loew).

Pierre Grech,SCJ

From one missionary project... to the other

This year, during Lent, the General Council is attracting the attention of communities and fraternities on a specific missionary project :
- in order to deepen our apostolic spirit as a family of religious and lay betharramites; 
- in order to learn more about the faces behind  the mission of St Michael’s children;
- in order to strengthen our communion in prayer and sharing, in thought and action.
In 2008, nearly 60,000 euros were collected to give to the future Thai religious some resources for their own formation. Today, without neglecting the links already established, the focus is on another of the 14 countries where Betharram is alive.



A reflection from the first lorry load of earth to provide a solid foundation in March’07 to the final completion of our new home in July’08. After over a year of construction, the new building was finished under our contractor’s supervision and was officially handed over to the Betharram community to accommodate our young brothers.
We now have full responsibility for our new Seminary and would like to dedicate it to our founder St. Michael and name it “Ban Garicoits”(Garicoits House, in thai).
We have planted many trees and flowers which will gradually grow and provide us with shade and many types of fruits to eat. Along with our own daily activities of prayer, study, community service, pastoral experience and sport, we also wish to grow in God’s fullness and balance to provide future leaders as Betharram priests and religious for the good of His Holy Church.
We would also like to take this opportunity to extend  our deepest gratitude to all of you, our benefactors, who constantly support us in many different ways. We include you in our daily prayer, especially in our Eucharistic celebration on the first Saturday of the month.
Please pray for us as well, that we may be faithfull to God who calls us to be His effective instrument to fulfill His wishes through each one of us. Thank you very much, Khaub khun kraab!


Betharram has been in Ivory Coast since 1959. For the past 50 years our brothers “have been devoting themselves totally to helping other to be happy” according to the wishes of our Founder St Michael Garicoits. The Province France has greatly contributed to maintaining our Brothers’ mission in this part  of Africa. Today, with the new restructuring of the Congregation in regions and vicariates, this sharing must be ever greater; the whole Congregation is committed so that the missionary activities of our brothers may be even more meaningful. The Congregation needs to find new sponsors who will willingly accept to provide materiel and financial help.

Besides the formation for religious life of the young candidates which demands a considerable financial investment, three positive projects are being presented to us:

  • At Dabakala, the community has given a hostel for the use of the pupils and which houses 36 students. The buildings are in serious need of refurbishment: cost:  €5.500.
  • In St Bernard’s Parish at Adiapodoume, the community would like to open a reading room and library. At home, the pupils don’t always have electricity because it is a working class area;  they are therefore at a disadvantage for their personal work. Cost:  €8.300.
  • The community at Adiapodoume have a project to open a garage and a training centre for motor mechanics. The aim is to procure benefits for the training centre and to give a solid formation to the apprentices who are often exploited and furnish cheap labour in the garages already in existence. Cost: €140 000. The putting into service is planned for over 4 years.  

To prove the seriousness of this project, a Religious Priest is being trained at Yamoussoukro in a National Institute. In July he will be a Superior Technician in Motor Mechanics; his formation is at the expense of the congregation.
These new projects are in addition to those already in place and which are continuing to be implemented.
- The agricultural college “Tshanfeto”, opened in 2000, under the direction of a religious priest, agricultural-engineer whose formation was assured by the Province France. The 9th year students are actually in formation.
- The agricultural plantations of rubber trees. At present 18 hectares are in production, and this investment will allow a further extension to 30 hectares.
- The creation of a plantation of jatropha (a bio-carburant plant) on an 18 hectares plot near Dabakala.  Our brothers have a double objective in all these activities or projects.

Human and professional formation of the young men in a country who greatly needs outstanding farmers and a better qualified work force; this is integrated into the Faith formation. They believe that the link between salvation in Jesus Christ and the promotion of the individual is indispensable.

Self-sufficiency, both materiel and financial, of the Betharramite communities. The religious know that soliciting help is necessary to achieve this, but they are embarrassed by it right now.
The whole Congregation, together with all our friends, wants to bring encouragement, support and help to the Ivory Coast vicariate which this year is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the presence of Betharram.

Sacred Heart Mission Centre, 
St Joseph’s Murcott Road, Whitnash
Leamington Spa. CV31 2JJ
United Kingdom

Love in community


From Bethlehem, a novice from Ivory Coast sends in a reflection affecting us all.

I finally understood that people are not like me, and I was very hurt by this discovery.  For if everyone thought and loved like me, our world would be a better place. Since I could no longer put up with these people, I decided to go and shut myself up in my own little world. From there I would cast a look full of pity on those who were rejecting me, on those who neither thought nor loved like I did.  Being now completely cut off from everybody I found that my own little world was peaceful, even adorable.  Besides which I could do whatever I wanted without fear or bother.
Funnily enough, after some time I felt the need to contact the very people I had been rejecting previously. Their absence and the happy memories I had of them made me understand that it was I who was rejecting them. So from my hiding place I was challenged by the silence... Its gentle voice broke down my pride and helped me to love them in a different manner. I left my hiding place and understood that my previous way of loving my brothers was more a refuge than anything else. For, by refusing to shoulder the interior problem which was gnawing away at me, I was projecting it on others. In reality, I was getting them to bear and support my mask and I was making them suffer.
I understood that in order to build a fraternal life in community, I didn’t have to depend totally on my own ideas and the strength of my arms, but rather on the help of the Holy Trinity its source and model. That moment of silence taught me ”the bond between the commandment to love God and love my neighbour” (VC, No 5).
I came to understand that to live with others I had to undergo an interior conversion rather than wait only from them for changes that suited me. I therefore took the resolution to be God’s gift for my brothers, even when there were moments of tension among us. To accomplish this I shall see to it that the lines of communication between us are always functioning well. For when they break down “each brother doesn’t know what the other is going through, the brother becomes a stranger, and we end up with a situation of real solitude”.  (VFC: 32)

Armel Daly, novice SCJ

5 minutes with... Father Paco (Francisco Daleoso)

P. Francisco Daleoso,SCJ

2009 began under the sign of change for Fr Francisco Daleoso, more popularly known as Paco.  At more than 1000km from Buenos Aires and his dear basilica of the Sacred Heart, he is now in community in an impoverished rural region.  This new adventure, both human and pastoral, was well worth a five minute chat.

Nef - Can you tell us in a few words the different stages of you ministry?
- I began as spiritual director at the “Apostolicat” at Barracas. Did I look like a saint….at 25 years of age?  As was the way of doing things at Betharram then, I was put in charge of 16 lessons a week (Spanish and civic instruction in the secondary section) I also started teaching literature, what I was doing in 1972 when I was named responsible of Religious Education in San Jose College at Barracas, while at the same time living in community at Adrogue with Fr Bruno Ierullo. In a word: teacher from 1965 to 1980 (literature, civic education, RE); formator (novice master briefly in 1977), master of scholastics from 1880 to 1985, master of novices in 1985 at Androgue; director of San Jose College from 1960 to 1993; parish priest: at Santiago del Estero in 1993, at Atlanda (Uruguay) in 1994 – 1995; again at Santiago from 1993 – 2001, and at Barracas the following years.  In 2009 I’m part of the missionary flying camp for as long as God wills.  Still a Betharramite!

What has marked you most in your life as a religious and priest?
- Obedience. That is not very edifying to say, but I often obeyed because I didn’t dare refuse, for want of a better preparation. Yet I always felt that the Betharram charism was made for me.  And despite my limits, I tried seriously to live by it.

At 69 years of age you are leaving an age old “institution” for a missionary parish. Why this change?
- How are you coping? - I have left the old worn out building in Barracas, which for over a century has been home to generations of Betharramites, just like me till now, to be part of a wandering community. An Easter experience!  New forms of Religious Life are being born from ancient structures.  We have accepted the pastoral service of Nueva Esperanza on a temporary basis.  We are a wandering missionary community, a real flying camp ready to go where ever our Superiors or the Bishops require of us.

From the point of view social and ecclesial, what exactly is the reality of Nueva Esperanza?
- It is exactly a territory of 20 000 inhabitants, scattered over 7330 square km.  These poor people are thirsty for God; they are supported by a strong form of the religious bordering on superstition, they also have huge social problems the result of abuse by political powers. Ownership of the land, anarchic deforestation, terrible struggles between the wealthy proprietors fighting over the land destined to the cultivation of soja.

You were ordained deacon on the 14th March 1964, that is 45 years ago. Do the diaconal service of the poor and the announce of the Word of God have any echo here?
- We want to be a sign of Jesus Christ by being faithful to the communion, first of all, between ourselves as religious and then according to the path of communion which appears in us day after day, be in communion with God’s people, entrusted to us by the Church at the hands of the Bishop. Such a communion, lived out simply according to our means, is a sign that Jesus is once more present, through us, amongst the poor, and gives us authority to announce his Gospel of salvation.

What are the principal challenges for community life and for the evangelisation of the region?
- Be faithful to the path of unity, by respecting the personal and community times of communion with the Master, of communion amongst ourselves living in community, of union with those who share our life as neighbours and brothers in the faith. Communion lived like this helps us to accept the difficulties of the people living here and who are overwhelmed by injustices, violence and humiliations. It helps us to accompany them and announce to them the salvation coming from Jesus Christ. I have no other Gospel but that one.

How is the Betharram charism a chance and a force for a community on mission?
- The essence of our charism is the Incarnation of Christ, and the Betharramite has the same program as the heart of Jesus. Then countless Betharramite, men of faith, humble and tough, but guided by Him, founded ecclesial communities and rich works which are still in existence;  having said good bye to their families, their country, their dear Pyrenees they were happy to be missionaries in America, China, Thailand, Africa or in India.

In the Argentinean Betharram, which possesses many ancient institutions, what is the meaning of choosing to be a community in the midst of the poor?
- It means returning to the origins; under the sure direction of St Michael, Betharram was born as a community in the service of popular missions, of education of youth, with a solid spiritual life, a deep sense of obedience and a total availability to the Bishops and the Church. The outward signs of religious life, such as certain have known have totally disappeared for good. Today, to refound Betharram, means opening up a path with other communities advancing in the light imagined by Fr Garicoits: that of the “here I am” of Jesus who cleared the way with his own body. That’s our program!

Nueva Esperanza 2009




It is nearly 50 years ago since our Congregation took its first steps in Ivory Coast. We are following the story of this undertaking during this jubilee year. We shall owe it to Father Laurent Bacho, General Councillor and formator in Abdijan.


In February 1964 there is an important stage in our presence in Farkessedougou, namely the first visit of our Superior General, Fr Joseph Mirande. It was the occasion to celebrate the centenary of the death of St Michael; the visitor brought a stature of St Michael which we keep preciously in Dabakala.  He was impressed by the new foundation and for a man who was not lavish in praises, wrote to the whole Congregation saying: “no difficulty stops our Fathers, they face everything with great simplicity, what is typical of a missionary and of a Betharramite. The work is not just ours. Our Fathers exert themselves but it is for the mission, for the Bishop; they are therefore helpers, instruments, in the words of St Michael”.
In June 1965 Fr Prevost is obliged to leave Ivory Coast for health reasons, to be replaced by Fr Gabriel Verley.  On the 1st September 1965 there was great upheaval in the Cours Normal; three Daughters of the Cross with their Superior General came for lunch. They are on their way to open a Catholic Girls’ School at Korhogo, just 50km from Ferke. It’s no secret to say that Betharram had whispered to Mgr Durrheimer that this Congregation was trying to return to Africa after having been only able to stay for 7 years in the Belgian Congo (1954 – 1961) because of the political problems. Ten days later the new Superior, Fr Gabriel Verley arrived. A new community of six men was in place;  in the face of the lack of teachers in the junior seminary at Katiola, Fr Segure was called to go there on the 1st November (All Saints), to be Maths teacher, while at the same time being attached to the Ferke community.
At Christmas 1965, it was the visit of Fr Brunot, the Provincial who had succeeded Fr Mateo. Already well acquainted with the Holy Land, he was perfectly happy celebrating Bethlehem in Ferke. “In the open air, in front of the church, I prepared the Christians to celebrate the night with films on Jesus’ country.  I midnight I sang the solemn high Mass  aided by Frs Verley and Segure.  The church was packed full and the calm was impressive”. It was during this visit that Mgr Durrheimer told Fr Provincial about a pastoral worry. He wanted to open new missions (parishes) in the bush with missionary Fathers,  teachers at the seminary but who were not very happy at the idea.  He wanted to send the Superior, Abbe Jean Marie Keletigui, to continue his studies. The latter was to succeed to him in 1977. The bishop thought that Betharram was well prepared to assume responsibility for the Junior Seminary; the secondary school would be taken over by the Clerics of St Viateur, renamed “Charles Lwanga College”.
In September 1966 the community regretfully left Ferke. “For 7 years Ferke kept us in the stifling heat but in an atmosphere of friendship and an unforgettable religious life” noted one of the Fathers. They had given of their very best at St Michael’s which they had built up with great enthusiasm. But they would live this move, thinking of the spiritual heritage of the Founder which they are expected to enrich.  “If only we could assemble a society of priests with a programme like that of the Heart of Jesus. Such priests would be a real community  of choice soldiers, ready to run at the slightest sign from their leaders, to where ever they were called” Fathers Verley and Suberbielle  found missionary zeal in a seminary such as they had known at Beit Jala, but in a totally different church context.

Laurent Bacho,SCJ

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