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Aiden Clarke, Deputy Principal, Moyle Park College - Ireland, Dublin

 

Marist Province of Central-West EuropePersonal experiences

Since 1979 I have worked as a lay teacher in Moyle Park College, in Dublin.The hospitality of the Marist Brothers and the family spirit they engenderedin the school struck me have the start. I also admired greatly their concernfor the most vulnerable students.

However, it was only in 1993 when a Marist Brother from Australia, (KevinTreston?), spoke to the staff in Moyle Park about the importance of havingan articulated shared value map that I became aware of the spirituality thatunderpinned the Brothers approach to their mission. I felt that there was anatural fit between my view of my role as an educator and Marcellinsideals. My idea of what being a Marist involved grew as I attendedconferences and assemblies over the years since 1999. I found the experienceof meeting people at these gatherings to be very enriching for my own faithand inspirational for how to deal with the students I encounter each day.

In an age of great materialism, consumerism and individualism the aspects ofMarcellins life, which inspire me most, are his simplicity and love ofwork. In my position as a Deputy Principal I have endless opportunities tobe an attentive presence to those in need and I try, through my behaviour,to model the values of the Gospel. When a problem seems intractable or thenegative impact of societal / family issues on school grows ever more Irecall that Marcellin faced many obstacles in his time and never lost hope.A Marist can never despair.

Marists must also take young people where they are at and this require aconstant discernment of their needs and imaginative approaches to meetingthose needs. We need to acknowledge the sociological realities of presentday Ireland. In any class there are pupils from homes with widely varyingdegrees of religious conviction. There is a job of evangelising to be doneand all teachers, not just those who teach Religious Education, have a roleto play in the re-moralisation of society. This is a huge challenge and alsoa great opportunity. I would like over the coming years to see teachers inMoyle Park take up the challenge and I have a role to play in encouragingthem to do so.

I also would like to get involved in some type of prayer group, for my ownspiritual needs and also to give some communal prayer experience to ournon-church-going youth. Given the decline in the influence of and, in somecases, respect for the institutional church the need is great and thechallenge involved considerable. But isnt that somewhat like the situationthat Marcellin found himself at the start of the nineteenth century?

I am blessed to be a teacher. It gives me a chance to influence many youngpeople every day. My heart ripples and lifts when I see them charging intothe building at the start of a new day . even though I know that there willbe trouble and strife as well as joy before the day ends. I do not tellthem how much Jesus loves them . the word love has been debased throughoveruse. But I do try to be an instrument of Gospel values and I try to bepublicly happy and optimistic about life and young people at a time whenmany older people criticise them and lament the passing of the good olddays. I try to be of service and to model Marcellins love of work andhumility.

Aiden Clarke, Deputy Principal, Moyle Park College, Dublin, Ireland
Marist Province of Central-West Europe