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05/06/2012: Australia


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A newsletter for Member Schools of Marist Schools Australia published fortnightly during term time




Dear Members of the Marist Family

In writing in early 1837 to a young Brother who was finding life a little tough and was also doubting the worth of his work, Saint Marcellin sought first to encourage him, to give him heart1. Then he impressed upon him just how critically important was his teaching ministry with his young students:

“It is up to you to open or to close heaven for them.”

Pause on those words for a moment. They are strong. Disarmingly strong.

Marcellin went on to say that if the Brother was indeed going to open rather than close heaven for his students then he needed to do three things: he had to inspire them by his own life, he had to pray for them, and he had to “imprint strongly the love of God on their young hearts.”

In another place, Marcellin proposed to the Brothers that they were to be “living gospels” for their students. To emphasise just how significant that was, he went on to say that they may be the only gospel that their students ever get to read.In this week when we honour the memory of our Founder and his living heritage in our school families, let us recall this particular insight of Marcellin: the lasting impact that our lives are likely to have on our students, for good or for ill. We all know people who have rejected the Church due to their experience of Catholic schooling or, more specifically, their experience of a teacher or teachers in a Catholic school. What an indictment that is! We also know people, of course, who have been inspired by men and women who have taught them, people who have lived and radiated the Good News. People, like Mary and Marcellin, who have been full of joy and hope and compassionate justice.

In the Gospel reading that the Church allocates for the Mass liturgy on the Solemnity of St Marcellin (the same one, incidentally, that was read at his Beatification Mass in 1955 and his Canonisation in 1999)3 , we hear Jesus’ instruction to his disciples that it was their duty to bring children to Jesus, and his attendant warning to them that they deserved a millstone around their neck if they were to lead the young astray. The theme that we have taken for this year – ENCOUNTER: Eyes Opened, Hearts Burning – is sourced in the critical role that inter-personal relationships play in bringing the gospel to life, and recognising Jesus. Or not. Let us not for a moment understate the weight of responsibility that sits with us as Christian educators. But let us rejoice that so many men and women continue to devote their lives to just this task: to bring young people to Jesus.

To open heaven to them. Happy feast day!
Nisi Dominus,

Brother Michael Green fms

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