30 June 2009

Brazil Anglican theologian dies

Jaci Corréia Maraschin
priest, poet, and theologian.

The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (IEAB) is greatly saddened to announce the passing of one of its most illustrious members. Ardent defender of liberty, inclusiveness, the ordination of women, and creativity in hymns and liturgy, the Rev. Mr Maraschin was born in Bagé, State of Rio Grande do Sul, where from an early age he began to put his talents to work for the church.

He was a youth leader at his home parish, Matriz do Crucificado, and a leader of the monthly publication Flámula ("Flame") for young people in the church. He entered seminary in Porto Alegre in 1951 and was made a deacon in 1953 at Igreja da Ascensão in Porto Alegre. The year thereafter he was ordained a priest and went to study at General Theological Seminary in New York.

As soon as he returned to Brazil, in 1956, he was put in charge of coordinating Christian education and began to teach at the Theological Seminary of Brazil, ambitiously modernizing religious education and seeking to incorporate the diversity and richness of Brazilian culture. His next experience abroad was in 1964, when he traveled to Strasburg, France to do his doctoral studies in Religious Science. With his thesis on Frederick Denison Maurice, he graduated Magna Cum Lauda, the first Brazilian Episcopalian/Anglican to earn such distinction in Europe. Back in Brazil, he continued to teach at the Seminary and began to represent the Brazilian Church in denominational and ecumenical forums in Brazil and in other countries.

The Rev. Mr Maraschin was one of the founders of the Association of Evangelical Theological Seminaries (ASTE) and served as its executive secretary for many years. In 1976, he was elected member of the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches and in 1981 was chosen by the Archbishop of Canterbury to represent Brazil at the Anglican Consultative Council in 1990, where he helped to draft guidelines for the Provinces of the Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury chose the Rev. Mr. Maraschin to serve on a few international commissions, including the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), within which he helped construct the famous document Gift of Authority, signed by both churches. Rev. Maraschin's contribution to liturgical music, as author, composer, and translator, is a valuable legacy not only for the IEAB but also many other churches in Brazil and beyond. His latest project was to coordinate a revision of the IEAB's hymnal.

It would be difficult to think of a priest, theology student, or lay leader in the IEAB who was not profoundly influenced by Rev. Mr. Maraschin, whose motto was "life goes only as far as liberty does". He is survived by his spouse, Ana Dulce and daughters Ana Isabela and Rosa Maria and four grandchildren.