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Walk in the Footsteps of Saint Champagnat


Walk in the Footsteps of Saint Champagnat

Our President, Mr. Christopher Sullivan '81, has traveled to the birthplace of the Marist Brothers with a group of 20+ Marist Pilgrims from the United States as part of Pilgrimage to L'Hermitage.

President Sullivan invites you to walk with him virtually through reflections and photographs.

More details on Central Catholic as a Marist school are included below.

Walk with Mr. Sullivan in the Footsteps of Saint Marcellin Champagnat

 


Group photo of pilgrims outside

Photo above: Members of the group of Marist pilgrims from the United States come together in Lyon.

Day 1: Lyon, France - the Basilica of Our Lady of Fourvière

Thursday, July 21, 2022

We arrived in Lyon, France this afternoon and met up with other Marists from the United States who had all come here to France to walk in the footsteps of Saint Marcellin Champagnat.  

Our first stop today (after lunch, of course) was the Basilica of Our Lady of Fourvière.  

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan in front of the Basilica of Our Lady of Fourvière.

It was here, 206 years ago tomorrow (July 22nd) that Marcellin, then a young and newly ordained priest, along with 4 of his friends, made a pilgrimage to the Statue of the Virgin, and pledged to start a Society of Mary.  

Most of our group took the bus up the long hill to this same chapel, but we joined a few brave souls and walked the same steps up the hill that St. Marcellin did.  

Chris walking along path

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan walking up the path to the Chapel.

I have seen pictures of this chapel and heard many stories, but it was incredibly emotional to reach the top of the hill and see it in person.

We were granted a private session around the same altar and the same statue that Marcellin visited, and we repeated the pledge, word for word.  

Pilgrims in the Basilica

We finished with prayer and singing the Salve Regina, then got on the bus for the one-hour trip to L'Hermitage, the home that Marcellin and the first brothers built. 

We will be staying here for four days and walking in the footsteps of the man whose vision is the foundation for everything we do at Central.  

I prayed very hard for our Central Catholic family and will continue to do so.  

I am tired now... but more to come!

St. Marcellin Champagnat… pray for us!

 

 


Chris overlooking L'Hermitage

Day 2: L'Hermitage - Saint Chamond

Friday, July 22, 2022

What a day!  

We spent the entire day here at L'Hermitage, walking the grounds and touring both inside and out.

Exploring the grounds and buildings

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan exploring the grounds and buildings of L'Hermitage.

Bro. Maurice, a Marist Brother from here in France, lives here, and he was our historian and tour guide.  

We spent time in the cemetery where many of the first brothers are buried. St. Marcellin was originally buried here as well, but his remains were moved to the chapel when he was canonized as a Saint.

Chris by the statue

We also spent time in St. Marcellin's original bedroom, where many of his personal possessions are still present.  

Chris in St. Champagnat's room

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan in the bedroom of St. Marcellin Champagnat.

I learned that he would call brothers to his room to dispense advice, but also to play checkers! The more I learn about him, the better I like him!

Chris in St. Champagnat room showing the chess board

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan showing the checkerboard in St. Champagnat's bedroom.

Like we say each day at school: Always remember….to pray for each other!  

Chris with an image of St. Champagnat

I am praying for all the members of the Central community during this very special experience.

There will be more hiking tomorrow…. can’t wait to share the next adventure.

 

 


Group at the site of St. Champagnat's childhood home

Photo above: The group of Marist pilgrims from the US exploring the site of St. Champagnat's childhood home.

Day 3: His Family Home & Chapel, Montagne, the Memorare, and LaValla

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Before I start today's adventure, I have to tell you how excited we all were that Mr. Jim O’Neill was finally able to join us. He had run into multiple travel conflicts and had been stranded for two days in Frankfurt, Germany. Everyone here has been praying for his safe arrival.  I know him well enough that I was also praying for the people of Frankfurt!

Mr. Sullivan and Mr. O'Neill at the Church of St. Champagnat's baptism.

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan and Mr. O'Neill at the Church of St. Champagnat's baptism.

What a day!

We jumped in a bus and went on a whirlwind tour of Champagnat country. We started the day in Marlhes, the town of Marcellin’s birth. Our first stop was the Church where He was baptized (in photo above).

The parish has changed its name to honor him. As an added surprise, I found a statue of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, so you can imagine how many prayers I said here for our Central family.

Mr. Sullivan praying at the statue of St. Thérèse

Above photo: Mr. Sullivan prays at a statue of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

From there, we went to St. Marcellin’s childhood home (pictured in the first photo for today). The brothers have erected a chapel there that is absolutely beautiful.

Mr. Sullivan outside the Champagnat Family Home and Chapel

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan outside the Champagnat Family Home and Chapel.

We also saw a special room his parents set up for him for those times he came home from the seminary to visit them. The brothers who live there in community shared a wonderful lunch with us.

Mr. Sullivan looking out window

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan looks out the window of St. Champagnat's room.

We then went to the spot where St. Marcellin prayed with the dying boy, Jean Baptiste Montagne. There is only a small stone that remains of the home, but there is a plaque commemorating this special event.  

Mr. Sullivan shows the plaque for the Jean Baptiste Montagne event

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan shows the plaque commemorating the Jean Baptiste Montagne event.

It was this moment that spurred Marcellin to action, and he immediately began recruiting the first brothers. We all reflected on our own Montagne moments in our lives when God calls us to action.

We then went to the spot of the famous “Memorare in the Snow” story. St. Marcellin and Bro. Stanislaus were trying to get back to L'Hermitage and got lost in a snowstorm in the mountains. They prayed the Memorare to Our Good Mother, and a farmer with a lantern appeared in the distance. We visited the remains of that farmhouse and prayed the Memorare together

Site of the Memorare in the Snow

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan shows site of the Memorare in the Snow.

This story is why we pray the Memorare every day at Central, and why the lantern is such an important symbol at all our school liturgies, prayer services, and retreats. This was an incredibly moving part of our day.

We next went to the parish in LaValla, where Marcellin first served as a parish priest. He lived here with the first brothers before they grew so large and had to build Le Hermitage.

We sat at a table built by Marcellin’s own hands. It was around this table that the first brothers ate, studied and prayed. We have a replica of this same table in our chapel at school.

Mr. Sullivan, Bro. Brian Poulin, and Mr. O'Neill at La Valla

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan, Bro. Brian Poulin, and Mr. O'Neill at the table at La Valla

Most of our group got back on the bus for the return trip to L'Hermitage, but a few of us chose to hike back down…. once again, making sure we were, quite literally, walking in the Footsteps of St. Marcellin.

Chris and his wife Joyce hiking back to L'Hermitage

Photo above: Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan hiking back to L'Hermitage.

 

 

 


Mr. Sullivan in front of the original chapel at Taize

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan and Mr. O'Neill in front of the original chapel at Taizé.

Day 4: Taizé, Cluny, and the River Gier

Sunday, July 24, 2022

We started our day today with an early breakfast here at L'Hermitage, then boarded a bus for a two-hour ride to Taizé.

We first visited the original church of the Taizé community, a simple chapel built near the beginning of World War II (photo above.)  

The community and its celebrations have grown so large that a bigger space had to be built, and that is where we celebrated an amazing liturgy with pilgrims from all over the world, many of them young people, some of whom hiked the mountains to get there.  

The liturgy had incredible music and chanting and was shared in a multitude of languages, including English! The enthusiasm and prayers were very moving.  

A group of about 12 high school aged students arranged and prepared the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, then stayed with the priest during the consecration.  

It was awesome to see, and I found myself praying for all the students at Central in a very special way.

The brothers from L'Hermitage had packed us a lunch, and we stopped in the beautiful village of Cluny to eat.

It was there that Joyce (Mrs. Sullivan) and I enjoyed some delicious ice cream.

Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan enjoy ice cream at Cluny

Photo above: Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan enjoying ice cream at Cluny.

When we finally returned here to L'Hermitage, we were given some free time to explore.

St. Marcellin built this home for the brothers along the River Gier.  It was a source of life for the early brothers in many ways, and since it was very warm here today, I decided to take a swim in a spot where Fr. Champagnat certainly would have done the same. 

Mr. Sullivan swimming in the Gier

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan swimming in the Gier.

There is, of course, a chapel here, but during construction, St. Marcellin and the early brothers built a makeshift “Chapel in the Woods” where they could pray together each day.

The spot today is marked by a well and gazebo.

Mr. Sullivan at the Chapel in the Woods
Mr. Sullivan at the Chapel in the Woods

Photos above: Mr. Sullivan exploring the site of St. Champagnat's "Chapel in the Woods."

We finished our day by gathering once again in St. Marcellin’s bedroom, where we prayed, reflected on our day, and sang the “Salve Regina.”  

Afterwards, a group of us stayed up to play a rowdy Catholic card game that is akin to “Apples to Apples” (a favorite on our Central retreats!)

It was another inspiring day, and I consider myself lucky to have this experience!

 

 

 


Karan, a young adult Marist from New Jersey, took this selfie from the top of Mount Pilat.

Photo above: Karam, a young adult Marist from New Jersey, took this selfie from the top of Mount Pilat.

Day 5: Le Puy-en-Velay, Le Puy Cathedral, Our Lady of France, and Mount Pilat

Monday, July 25, 2022

We got back on the bus again this morning to travel to Le Puy-en-Velay, a beautiful city built on and around a series of volcanos.  

There is a rich history of devotion to the Blessed Mother here, and it is believed that the Salve Regina was first sung here around 1096 AD.  

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan in Le Puy Cathedral.

We toured Le Puy Cathedral and sang the Salve Regina together as we prayed at the altar.  

Mr. Sullivan and Mr. O'Neill pray at a statue of St. Thérèse at Le Puy Cathedral.

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan and Mr. O'Neill pray at a statue of St. Thérèse at Le Puy Cathedral.

This Cathedral is a stop along the El Camino, and many other visiting pilgrims joined us in song!

Behind the Cathedral is a huge statue of Our Lady of France (Notre Dame de France) that towers almost 2,500 feet above sea level.  

Mr. Sullivan with the Statue of Our Lady of France.

Photo above: Mr. Sullivan with the Statue of Our Lady of France.

The statue is built atop a dormant volcano.  A small group of us, including me and Mrs. Sullivan, made the trek of nearly 1000 steps to the top for a spectacular view.  

Mr. Sullivan making the 1,000-step trek to the statue of Our Lady of France (Notre Dame de France).

Above photo: Mr. Sullivan making the 1,000-step trek to the statue of Our Lady of France (Notre Dame de France).

Karam, a young adult Marist from New Jersey with boundless energy, was good enough to count the steps for us!  He was also our professional selfie taker!

Karan, a young adult Marist from New Jersey, took this selfie of the group with the statue of Our Lady of France.

Photo above: Karam, a young adult Marist from New Jersey, took this selfie of the group with the statue of Our Lady of France.

It was here, in Le Puy, with its incredible devotion to Our Lady, that the idea of starting a Society of Mary first occurred to a St. Marcellin.

After lunch and a bit more sightseeing, we boarded the bus for a trip to Pilat.  

Once again, a group of us chose to hike up for a spectacular view of all of what we have come to call “Champagnat Country.”  

Above photo: Mr. Sullivan looks out over “Champagnat Country” from Mount Pilat.

We stopped for a dinner at this very remote restaurant on the mountain that was run by the farmer and his wife. This farm to table spread was delicious, and we had goats and farm animals around us while we ate.

On the return trip, we saw an amazing sunset.  It was quite the ending to our day.

The final sunset on the return from Pilat.

Above photo: The final sunset on the return from Pilat.

After returning for our final night at L'Hermitage, we gathered in the chapel around the remains of St. Marcellin for our final prayer.  

We re-committed ourselves to his mission to make Jesus known and loved.

I will sleep well tonight and prepare for our journey home tomorrow.

I have been blessed beyond measure to have this experience and to go through it with so many wonderful people.

While I still have work to do this summer, I am fired up for the start of the new school year!  

As I have said so many times, “I love my job!”

 

 

Statue of Mary in Courtyard in front of Central Cathokc High School sign

We Are Marist

Central Catholic was founded in 1935 by Brother Florentius and the Marist Brothers.

Our identity as Marists and as Catholics informs every aspect of school life.

Guided by the vision of Saint Marcellin Champagnat, who founded the Marist Brothers of the Schools in France in 1817.

We are inspired to make the world a better place by serving and leading.

Marist Family Spirit distinguishes who we are and is the cornerstone of our Central Catholic community.

logo for Marists of Champagnat

About Pilgrimage to L'Hermitage

Twenty-four Marist Pilgrims from the US are participating in this year’s pilgrimage to L’Hermitage, beginning in Lyon, France, from Thursday, July 21 through Tuesday, July 26.

This one-week experience will allow participants to experience first-hand the birthplace of the Marist institute. 

Program Highlights:

  • Group tour of L’Hermitage, Le Rosey, Marhles, etc.
  • Walk the Champagnat trail from LaValla to L’Hermitage
  • Group & Personal Prayer Experiences
  • Day trip to Fourvière, Lyon, Taize and LePuy

About the Marist Brothers of the Schools

The Marist Brothers of the Schools is a Roman Catholic congregation of vowed teaching brothers founded by Saint Marcellin Champagnat in France in 1817.

Central Catholic was founded in 1935 by Brother Florentius and the Marist Brothers.

Our identity as Marists and as Catholics informs every aspect of school life.

Bro. Rene, arms outsretched

Above photo: Bro. Rene Roy, FMS, '59, Campus Minister and President Emeritus

Being Marist

Guided by the vision of Saint Marcellin Champagnat, we are dedicated to the education and spiritual development of the young. We are called to prepare young minds and hearts to succeed and make a difference in the world.

As Marists, we believe strongly in the importance and power of family; it’s at the very heart of the Central Catholic experience.

So much of what our alumni remember most—the abiding respect for everyone in our community, our commitment to the least favored, the dedication of our faculty, and the unbreakable bonds of friendship, can be traced directly back to the Marist tradition of family spirit.

Student holding sign that says, "Wake, Pray, Slay"

Marks of the Marist Student

  1. Faith-filled Disciples: Marist students come to possess a strong sense of God and a personal relationship with Jesus, Mary and Saint Marcellin fostered through religious formation, a sacramental life, and prayer.
  2. Empowered Witnesses: Marist students, recognizing Mary as their model and companion, become joyful witnesses to God’s love in their lives, enabling them to see Christ in others, to live simply, morally and with integrity, respecting all of life and creation.
  3. Agents of Justice and Service: Marist students grow in their understanding of Catholic social teaching and stand in compassionate solidarity with the least favored.
  4. Leaders: Marist students recognize that they are lovingly created by God with unique gifts and talents which, through their Baptism, they are called to develop and share with the Church and the wider community.
  5. Spirit-filled members of Family & Community: Marist students embody a spirit which celebrates and welcomes all.


Central Catholic High School
A College Preparatory High School of Excellence in the Marist Tradition

Founded by the Marist Brothers in the heart of Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1935, Central Catholic High School enrolls 1,200 students from over 60 cities and towns and several countries. Students come from diverse backgrounds to form a caring community of faith, learning, and service. They advance to college in overwhelming numbers (nearly 100%) and move on to successful careers and positions of leadership in government, business, industry, academia, and professions.

Central Catholic High School is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

For more information, please visit www.CentralCatholic.net, call 978-682-0260, or email website@centralcatholic.net.

Mission: Central Catholic High School makes Jesus known and loved.
We educate the whole person for college and for life, with particular care for the least favored and those in need.