|Interview With Director of Mary of Nazareth International
By Jesϊs Colina
NAZARETH, Israel, 19 FEB. 2009 (ZENIT)
The construction of the Mary of
Nazareth International Center is part of an evangelization project to
publicize the mystery of the Mother of God through technology, explains
the project's director.
In this interview with ZENIT, Olivier Bonnassies speaks about the scope
of the project that aims to spread knowledge and love of Mary worldwide
through associate centers.
Q: What is the Mary of Nazareth project?
Bonnassies: On Mar. 25, 2007, feast of the Annunciation, the first stone
of the Mary of Nazareth International Center was laid in Nazareth.
The [then] Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, accompanied by
bishops of all the traditional Christian churches in the Holy Land,
presided over this moving ceremony, during which the apostolic nuncio
transmitted Benedict XVI's blessing.
"Never before had the Christian churches of the Holy Land, Catholic,
Orthodox and Protestant, joined in this way to support a project. It is
a small miracle!" said Bishop Marcuzzo of Nazareth, sent as a delegate
by the episcopal conference of the Holy Land to support the project.
And, he added: "This initiative makes me very happy; it will be useful
for the Church in the Holy Land, for pilgrims and also for the universal
Church, because it will motivate us in a very practical way to address
the great mystery of the Incarnation, and Mary's sublime place in the
heart of the Christian community!"
Work is under way to actualize the center, which will offer pilgrims,
tourists and the inhabitants of the Holy Land a unique place, with
several modules, not only to discover Mary but also the principles of
the Christian faith. They will [be completed] in just over a year; the
inauguration is foreseen in 2010.
Q: What is the project's objective?
Bonnassies: The production of the Nazareth Center is the first stage of
a great project of evangelization that seeks to help the public discover
the grandeur of the mystery of the Mother of God, as well as all the
beauty, truth and profundity of the Christian faith, using above all the
different means of communication.
In the spirit of St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, we wish to make
the Virgin Mary known and to promote love of [her] so that, through her,
Jesus is better known and loved. "Jesus Christ came to the world through
the Most Holy Virgin Mary and also through her, he must reign in the
world," the saint said in his "Treatise of True Devotion."
In a second phase, the Mary of Nazareth project will unfold in the whole
world, through the creation of associate Marian Centers, which will use
the contents elaborated by the Nazareth Center.
Three are already planned, in Lebanon, Brazil and Poland, with
increasing local funding for the multiplication of multimedia
productions distributed in these Marian Centers, for traditional means
of communication, and the display of Web pages referring to the Virgin
Mary and the whole of Christian faith in association with other
Q: Have you been successful already in funding the whole project?
Bonnassies: Unfortunately, not yet. The whole project will cost 9.5
million [$12 million]; we have already obtained 6.5 million [$8.2
million], but 3 million [$3.8 million] are still lacking to be able to
finish the work in the five buildings we have purchased and to finance
the production of the first series of multimedia contents of great
quality, which is already under way.
Q: Do you think that this project answers a current need?
Bonnassies: Yes, because this world needs to rediscover Mary.
We find ourselves today in a paradoxical situation: Most people do not
know the principles of the Christian faith, but the world has a great
thirst for truth. It has lost its compass and doesn't know where to find
Christians, who really have something to say, magnificent treasures to
transmit, showing to what degree their faith is well founded, true,
strong and beautiful, must seek all means to make themselves heard by
the great public.
The Mary of Nazareth project was born from the need to be furnished with
new and adapted means to make known and to love in a renewed way the
woman who leads to Christ.
Q: What are the strengths you count on for the future?
Bonnassies: There are several, thank God. The first strong point is that
the cornerstone of this project was laid in Nazareth, just in front of
the basilica of the Annunciation, where everything began, in the holy
place of the Incarnation, where the Eternal entered into time and where
Jesus, Mary and Joseph lived a hidden life for 30 years.
The fact that this project begins in Nazareth is an opportunity and a
because half a million pilgrims come here every year
to then spread to the whole world. The local Churches ardently desired
such an initiative after their synod of the year 2000, which defined the
great priority as the "pastoral care of the Holy Places."
John Paul II and Benedict XVI repeatedly pleaded that everything
possible should be done to help Christians of the Holy Land. This
project of peace, which has been well received by all the Christian
communities, and also the Muslims and the local Jews, will also create
jobs and relations with numerous countries, and give all our brothers of
the Holy Land new reasons to stay, in keeping with their vocation.
This great project of reunion around Mary, is supported by three
patriarchs, nine cardinals, the bishops of the major Marian shrines
Loreto, Lourdes, Guadalupe, Czestokowa, Aparecida, etc.
many [famous] personalities, 25,000 donors, 2,000 men of prayer and
50,000 subscribers who receive our free information bulletin, "Minute
with Mary," every day on the Internet.
The Mary of Nazareth project will increasingly unfold in a logic of
openness and association with all Christian movements and producers that
share the same goals and the same desire of evangelization through the
Q: What is a Marian center associated with Mary of Nazareth?
Bonnassies: An associate Marian center is a very simple concept: It is a
place where the public can come to discover the Virgin Mary
in a new and intense way
and the whole of the Christian faith, through multimedia productions
that, if possible, will be constantly renewed.
Q: Where will associate Marian centers will be built in the future?
Bonnassies: The projects will always be implemented at the request of
the local bishop, with the commitment of a religious community, for
The places will be found practically in the numerous existing shrines,
large or small, or in other suitable places: Above all there will be a
need for the faith to be proclaimed in a strong, modern and attractive
way, to touch in a new way people whom the Church has not succeeded in
In addition to the structures of important dimensions of the associate
Marian centers, which receive thousands or millions of faithful, it will
also be possible to present all or part of audiovisuals of
evangelization developed by Marian centers in special halls, made
available either by the shrines or already existing places of
Q: How and who will manage these Marian centers
associated with the International Marian Center of Nazareth
which you will multiply in the world?
Bonnassies: The associate Marian centers created in the future will
always be managed and financed locally by those who take charge of them.
It could be communities, congregations or movements encouraged and
supported by their bishops.
The Marian center will function as a "franchise," which means that we
will make available to them free of charge all the audiovisual
productions developed in the framework of our project. By way of
exchange, the centers will give back 9% of their earnings generated by
[entrance fees] to the center and by these activities
fees, shop, restaurant, etc.
It should be specified that this project, which responds to a classic
commercial structure, is not geared to profit. All the directors of the
Mary of Nazareth association have always been volunteers, and will
continue to be so in the future. The earnings that our association will
which we hope will be ever greater as the number of associate Marian
will only be used for two ends: to constantly produce new multimedia
contents of great quality at the service of the Gospel and to support
the Marian centers that are in difficulty, especially in countries where
evangelization is more difficult.
These simple principles could allow many to join this selfless project,
totally at the service of evangelization, and find the means for its
Q: How many people do you hope to reach?
Bonnassies: At present we are working on a "model Marian center," which
would cost some 2 million and could receive 150,000 people a year. We
believe that this type of center might find a financial solution in all
developed areas that could equal several million people. We hope that
there will be dozens of centers of this type in the coming years, which
all together would be visited by several million people a year.
If we succeed in this, if this helps numerous people in the world to
discover Mary, and through her and with her, Jesus our Savior, and if
associated sites on the Internet also have a great audience, this would
This will also change many things, because it will mean that we have
created an important network of Christian distribution which does not
exist at present, and which will benefit everyone.
Because all Christian producers who so wish will be able to contemplate
the possibility of developing projects of greater breadth, given that
they will have the possibility to find more easily a larger public and
hence be able to obtain greater cost-effectiveness. The multiplication
of Marian centers might also be a fantastic opportunity that leads to
the discovery of the beauty, profundity and truth of the Christian
Q: Are you seeking associates at present for all this?
Bonnassies: It is a project that, evidently, is difficult to construct,
and all people of good will are welcome.
Those who have the possibility of foreseeing the creation of a Marian
center associated to that of Nazareth in their country or region, can
begin to reflect on it, in connection with their bishop.
This project will be carried out in association with all those who love
the Virgin Mary and who long for the Holy Land, for the unity of
Christians and for the evangelization of the world.
In past centuries, our [forefathers] built cathedrals; at the start of
this third millennium, we hope to build Marian centers that will radiate
the faith to today's world!
It is a privilege and a profound joy to participate in such a project.
All of us volunteers and benefactors live it as such. The past years
have demonstrated that Providence wills it.
Thousands of human beings in the world are waiting for the Gospel. The
participation of all those who feel called to this project is truly
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On the Net:
Mary of Nazareth International: http://mariedenazareth.com/1.0.html?&L=1