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Carmel Luck - Australia, Canberra


Province of SydneyPersonal experiences

My name is Carmel Luck. I am Assistant Head of School – Staff at Marist College Canberra, and I teach Mathematics and Religious Education.

In 1975, my husband was transferred to Canberra from Melbourne, so I was looking for a teaching position. The position for a Maths/Science teacher was advertised at Marist College Canberra, so I applied, went for an interview and was offered the job. And to me it was a job. I had no sense of teaching as a vocation let alone any great desire to teach in a Marist school or to be connected in any way to Marist spirituality.

At that time I had no belief in God and had discarded my Catholic upbringing.

I remember meeting some of the Brothers in my first year teaching here and found them to be welcoming and friendly – very different from the nuns who had taught me at school. One Brother in particular used to always call me “Miss” which I found strange, so I said to him one day – my name is Carmel. He replied saying that the only woman he didn’t call ‘miss’ was his mother and he didn’t think women could teach anyway!

I guess I must have had something to offer, because by the end of that year, he called me Carmel and affirmed me as an ‘OK’ teacher. When my first daughter was born in 1976, I was overwhelmed by the support from the Marist community. The Headmaster at the time offered me a part-time job the following year – very progressive thinking at that time – and I was so grateful that I had the opportunity to be a mum and to continue teaching. From 1980 – 84, I took time out of work, and returned to Marist College Canberra in 1986 as a full-time teacher and by this time a single parent. In many respects I felt a failure and was blessed to be among so many wonderful teachers and Brothers who welcomed me, affirmed me and accepted me.

On reflection, the Marist community helped heal my rejection of God and the Catholic Church. I think I was Marist before I was Catholic. I enrolled my two daughters in a Catholic school and felt the touch of God for the first time at my daughter’s sacrament of reconciliation. God was working in my life, even though I wasn’t searching. I remember telling Brother Terence, who was Headmaster at that time, about the profound experience I had of God’s love for me and the next day receiving a lovely card from him, acknowledging the call from God and the challenge for me to respond.

I was enjoying my teaching at Marist College and my new found faith in God. But it wasn’t until I attended a “Sharing Our Call” programme in 1992 that it struck me that I actually had a share in this Marist vocation. I was not just a teacher, I felt very strongly the call to be a teacher and the call to be Marist.

Teaching for me is no longer just a job; it is part of my life. My Marist experience has taken me from an insecure, timid classroom teacher with little confidence in my own goodness and my own teaching skills, to a self-confident child of God, ready to take on any challenges that come my way each day.

And I guess that is what has always struck me about Marcellin – despite many obstacles, he persevered because he believed. God must have touched his life in a profound way and like Mary, he said “yes”. I sense his gentleness and his determination, his faithfulness, his trust, his firmness, his nurturing and his vision of a better world for young people.

I admire the Brothers I know today. They care for one another, they care for the kids, they have fun, they laugh, they enjoy the moment. Their dedicated lives are a witness to all in our school – they have a very special place. One of our students died tragically a couple of weeks ago and one moment that stood out for me was when one student sobbed openly in the shoulder of one of our young Brothers. He felt safe and cared for.

We always talk about family spirit, and in this tragic death, I saw a community of people caring for one another – Brothers, staff, students, parents. Family spirit is about relationships. The most special part for me is that the Brothers invite us (lay people) to be a part of their lives, to share in their mission, their vocation

So what do I value about the Marist charism?

Building relationships is more important than building knowledge;
Belief in young people, their goodness and self-worth;
Life of service, love of what I do;
Adaptable, seeing a need and responding;
Strong belief that this is Mary’s work;
Challenging to be the best we can be;
Listening, caring, gentleness, strength

As an affiliated member of the Marist community, I try to live my life as a mother, teacher, member of staff and friend of the Brothers with gentleness and love, beginning each day by saying ‘Yes’ to God. I feel ‘at home’ at Marist College and I treasure the shared prayer opportunities, the shared meals, the companionship, and the fun and laughter.

I love being part of an evolving spirituality, one that has responded to the needs of young people, spirituality and a charism that is alive and changing, not stagnant.

I love being a member of the “Sharing Our Call” team. This was where it all began for me and I hope is a turning point for all staff who participate in the program.

Last year I visited The Hermitage in France (as part of a pilgrimage) – Wow! I was deeply moved and felt affirmed in my ‘call’.

My dream would be to live at The Hermitage for 12 months as part of a community of Brothers and lay people, welcoming visitors, running programs in Marist spirituality, showing people the Marist countryside, helping bring the Marist story to life, and providing opportunities for Brothers and lay people to ‘feel’ the spirit of Marcellin and come away feeling loved, refreshed, renewed.

I read this quote a while ago and I guess it sums up for me my life journey as a Marist.

Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
To all the people you can
As long as you can.

And for me to ‘do all the good you can’ as a Marist means to build relationships, to trust in God and Mary, to believe in myself and to let others (staff and students) know that Jesus loves them, however I can and where I can; to continue saying yes to the call on my life.
Carmel Luck, Canberra, Australia
Province Marist of Sydney