We are in the Old Habay, in Belgium, celebrating on September the centenary of the Marist Brothers’ presence.
Let us take a moment to go back a few years. We know that after banning the education in France, all the religious congregations had to leave the country in 1904.
Thus, thirty Dominican contemplative sisters arrived in Belgium and were welcomed in the parishes. In 1913 they moved to the Old Habay and bought the property of Bua, thus far in the hands of a tenant farmer.
They used the stables to build a refectory, a laundry room and an office. The barn became their chapel and chapter house. The finished cloister will be called “Valley of the Holy Angels”. The sisters will remain there for a short decade before being able to return to France.
This is how the story of the Marist Brothers began
Until then, the village had only a few dozen inhabitants. The first seed of this small commune was probably the community of Bua, whose Celtic root means “cow”. Indeed, large meadows suitable for cattle raising surround the Bua Castle.
The Marist Brothers, who had been in Arlon since 1888, and who had several young aspirants to Marist life, became interested in the community of Bua. The acquisition of the monastery took place on September the 30th in 1923. About thirty young men will begin their school year.
A little more information...
In May 1940 Germany invades Belgium. The seminarians and their leaders were evacuated to France and four months later returned to their families. After the war, in 1948, the seminary resumed its activities. The postulancy and novitiate, years of formation for Marist religious life, were added until August 1970. Due to the lack of young aspirants, the house remains empty. It had only the presence of the Brothers of the community. Then the question arose: should the property be sold?
The Reception Centre is born
The small community of brothers received the help of the Sisters of Christian Doctrine and some groups began to arrive.
In August 1988, in order to revitalize the community, three young Brothers arrived in Bua. The Centre will then be called “Fraternity of Champagnat”. Various changes were made to improve the living conditions.
In June 2021, the welcome centre became autonomous and took the name of “Le Bua Centre”. The reception has varied over the years.
To this day, Brothers and lay Marists, we receive groups of children coming from nearby parishes or on school outings, young people doing their secondary or university education or professional interns who come from Mageroy, a Gallo-Roman city. We also receive welfare groups, hospital comedians, members of social services, singing and liturgy, school directors, parish members, silent retreats, pilgrims and walkers, artists, Marist groups, etc.
The opening day of this Jubilee Year will take place on Sunday, September 10th 2023 and will close on Sunday, June 30th 2024 with a special “open day” for families. There will be various activities between these two dates of celebration. We look forward to meeting wonderful people.
Brother Albert Andre.