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Marist Bulletin - Number 332

 

The Marist Former Students: A word about our origins (Marist Blog – Br. Pau Fornells)
13/03/2008

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The Association of Marist Former Students (ADEMAR) of Málaga, a city in the south of Spain, whose Marist presence belongs to the Province of Mediterránea, has published a little thought-provoking document, which they wanted to present to Brother Seán Sammon, on his recent visit to this province. I am transcribing here just a part of this document. The topic of the Marist Former Students has been one that we have hardly addressed in this blog. For me, being a former student of La Inmaculada School in Girona (Catalonia - Province of LHermitage), it is a very precious topic. In my visits to the different provinces of the Institute, I have been surprised in a positive way to find some very active Associations of Former Students who are also striving to find new paths to develop the gift they received one day when passing through our Marist classrooms. I would like to open up, then, a combined reflection on the present and the future of the Associations of Former Students.

Some say that those were… other times.

There were about 50 Marist Brothers known to us former students, they were ordinary men, generally of rural origin, children of large families with scarce resources. However, they were endowed with a unique and attractive charism.

Most of them had received the basic formation necessary to devote themselves to teaching. The youngest were studying at the Ecclesiastical High School, some had a teaching qualification and very few of them were Graduates. To us, they all seemed to be wise.

With some very limited resources, some encyclopaedic text books and pedagogy different from that employed in other educational centres, they proceeded, blow by blow, to forge our intellect.

Their lives were humble and they did not have many amenities. Their clothing: soutane and cross on their breast. Always punctual for classes. Sober but affectionate; strict but understanding. Their presence among us in the yards and at the entrance and exit of classes was constant.

They were men of faith. That was obvious. They lived in community and they worked in the same style. Later on we realised that it was there, in community life, in prayer and in their apostolate, that they based their strength. In their lives could be seen the experience of love and fidelity to God and their trust in Marys maternal protection.

Some of them, years before, had been persecuted for their faith and had Brothers or friends who had been martyred; but, in spite of the stigma of their pain, they taught us that those flowers of martyrdom were the seed of new vocations, that faith, when it is unyielding, moves mountains.

Those men taught us how to get the best out of ourselves, to work with indomitable spirit, to enjoy sport, to make friends… And they also taught us to pray, to love Jesus and Mary, they helped us to prepare for our First Communion, they spoke to us of the then Blessed Marcellin and they instilled in us the fact that Mary, whom today we call our Good Mother, was our ordinary resource.

They taught us to be charitable towards the neediest, to collaborate with DOMUND or the Missionary Childhood; they invited us to accompany them in the catecheses which, in the afternoons, once a week, they shared in marginal areas of the city. At Christmas, they prepared with enthusiasm the Campaign of Charity to stimulate our generosity, inside and outside the school environment.

With the passing of the years, some lay teachers were incorporated into the centre. At the beginning it seemed strange to us, but soon we came to understand that the Brothers and the teachers shared the same mission.

Endowed with an exceptional spirit and with a vocation that seemed heroic to us, those educators, Brothers and lay people, made men of us - and some years later, women – in the Marist way: Good Christians and honest citizens.

When we look back we do not harbour any doubts: the former students are the fruit of perseverance, generosity and work well done. We are the fruit of the example of our educators, of their commitment and of their presence.

We are the fruit of the evangelizing work of Brothers who taught us that Jesus and Mary love each other and they taught us to love them. And we are also the fruit of some wonderful years filled with shared experiences, of games, of unforgettable anecdotes and of friendships that still continue.

A constant during those years was the presence of the former students in the life of the school. Sometimes it was because in your class there were classmates whose parents or brothers were former students; at other times it was because, from time to time, some former student appeared in the school to be greeted with special affection by the Brothers and teachers.

Also, the school magazine reminded us in each edition of the existence of an Association of Former Students. We read, with certain envy, the wonderful activities they organized and looked at the pictures of the meetings of the year groups, and we dreamt of getting to high school so that some former student could give us a lecture that would help us to plan our future well. There was also, in almost all the classes, some classmate whose family received a scholarship from the Association, thanks to which their children could study in the school.

If the presence of the Brothers and teachers among us was a distinctive feature of our school, so also was that of the former students.

We pupils knew perfectly well that the Brothers had a vocation to the consecrated life and that most of the lay teachers worked in the school through their vocation as educators, but… the former students? What caused them to be there? Why did they endow scholarships? Why did they give talks? Why – as we became aware in later years - did they help the Community and the school financially? Why did they offer their services with such altruism?

There is only an answer: gratitude.

When the Marist Former Students founded ADEMAR (Association of Marist Former Students), they did it through gratitude. They wanted, somehow, to return freely, that which they had freely received.

After thinking about our origins and valuing the wealth of people and experiences that have forged us, when from our position as former students we observe the life of our association, the activities that we organize, the reasons that we have to form part of it and the faith that it encourages in us, we ask ourselves: Were they really, other times?
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ADEMAR-Málaga: We the former students, pp. 6-7, Málaga, February 2008

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