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Celebrating the ‘Marist spirit’, family style

Christopher Columbus High joins the worldwide celebrations of Marist familys 200th

Brother Kevin Handibode, president at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, cuts a three-tier cake decorated with Marist imagery to mark the Marist Brothers' 200th anniversary.

Photographer: Jonathan Martinez | FC

Brother Kevin Handibode, president at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, cuts a three-tier cake decorated with Marist imagery to mark the Marist Brothers' 200th anniversary.

MIAMI | With a family picnic featuring live music, bounce houses, archery, rock climbing and a pig roast, Christopher Columbus High School honored the 14 Marist Brothers who currently serve at the school, and the more than 100 who have served there in the past.

A rock-climbing wall was part of the festivities for the Marist Brothers 200th Anniversary Picnic, held at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami.

Photographer: Jonathan Martinez | FC

A rock-climbing wall was part of the festivities for the Marist Brothers 200th Anniversary Picnic, held at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami.

Columbus is one of seven Marist-founded schools in the United States, and the only one in Florida. The March 18 picnic coincided with worldwide festivities marking the bicentennial of the religious community, which includes the Marist Brothers, Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary, the Marist Sisters and the Society of Mary (Fathers and Brothers), as well as many groups of Marist laity.

Over 1,000 people attended the event at the school’s Westchester campus, including faculty, staff, current students with their parents, and alumni with their families. Since its founding in 1958, Columbus has been known for its exemplary education and formation of young men.

"We believe that education is what really changes a person,” said Brother Eladio Gonzalez, guidance counselor. “We are in the business of educating. We have a great school, we have great facilities, but for me what is most important is the spirit, the Marist spirit. The Marist spirit is very valuable, it's very real."

"We wanted to make sure that as many people could come as possible and we felt that a family event is what St. Champagnat would want us to have,” said Brother Kevin Handibode, Columbus president. “A true Marist education is to make Jesus Christ known and loved through a Christian education and that is what we try to do. We have a very dedicated lay faculty that do that every single day here. We are a family at Columbus."

“The 200-year celebration is an opportunity to look back at the great work inspired by the charism of St. Champagnat over the past two centuries,” said Pete Marti, a class of ’02 graduate, Columbus teacher, and chair of the school’s 200th anniversary committee. “It is also an opportunity for us to be reenergized to ensure that the mission of the brothers is carried out as we step into the third century of Marist education.”   

Martin Bech, a 1996 alumnus of Christopher Columbus High School, was one of 22 who participated at the Pig Roast Competition at the Marist Brothers 200th Anniversary Picnic.

Photographer: Jonathan Martinez | FC

Martin Bech, a 1996 alumnus of Christopher Columbus High School, was one of 22 who participated at the Pig Roast Competition at the Marist Brothers 200th Anniversary Picnic.

The picnic began with a prayer service and the unveiling of a 3-tier cake decorated with Marist imagery.

“Each layer was symbolic,” explained Brother Eladio. “When the order first began they were very poor, they used to gather together around a table that Father Marcellin Champagnat, our founder, built and is known as the ‘lavala’ table. So the first layer of the cake was a representation of the table. The second layer of the cake highlights the 200-year commemorative logo; and the top tier is symbolic of the black habit and crucifix that the brothers use. The cake was topped with the school logo."

The celebration will continue with a National Day of Service March 29 where Columbus students, along with students at other Marist schools, will serve the neediest in their communities and raise funds for at-risk Marist missions around the world.

"I think as a teacher here, we like to emphasize what students need to learn to be responsible citizens of the world and to make Jesus Christ known and loved," said Teresa Chomat. "It's not only our job to educate them and make them successful in every aspect at every level, but also to make them realize that they have to make a difference in the world no matter where they are."

"We have had eight Silver Knights in the last three years which recognizes those students who do so much for the community,” said David Pugh, principal. “It’s a testament of the service and compassion of being Marist." 

HONOR A BROTHER

  • In commemoration of the bicentennial, Christopher Columbus High School has launched The Marist Brothers 200th Anniversary Giving Campaign. Alumni and friends of the school can make a donation in honor of a particular brother or the Marist Brothers in general. 
  • The donations will benefit Columbus High in the form of tuition assistance for needy families and in the expansion of school programs and facilities at Columbus.
  • The school is also encouraging alumni and friends of Columbus to submit their “Marist Brother Memories” for publishing in future school magazines.
Marist Brothers in Miami gather around a three-tier cake decorated with Marist imagery at the order's 200th Anniversary Picnic at Christopher Columbus High School.

Photographer: Jonathan Martinez | FC

Marist Brothers in Miami gather around a three-tier cake decorated with Marist imagery at the order's 200th Anniversary Picnic at Christopher Columbus High School.

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