2007-10-22 GREECE

Courage, sense of faith and ability to live with uncertainty

The Superior General, Br. Seán Sammon, visited Greece for the celebration of the 100 years of the Marist Brothers in Greece. He attended the church service which was held on September 17th, at the St. Denis cathedral in Athens. Father Nicolas, the Bishop of the Catholic Church in Athens, who was also a member of the Marist Institute, officiated at the service along with Father Patrick Coveney, the Nuncio Apostolic, and a lot more priests, former students of the Marist Brothers.
More than 600 friends and former students attended the service and prayed to God that the pedagogical and social mission of the Marist Brothers in Greece will continue in the years to come.
At the end of the service, Fr Sean Sammon addressed the guests, making the following speech:

Reverend Monsignors, members of the clergy, esteemed colleagues in ministry, members of the Marist movement, invited guests and other friends of the Marist Institute, my brothers,
Courage is required when beginning any new project. Courage and a sense of faith and maybe even something of an ability to live with uncertainty. Yes, these are the ingredients necessary for any new beginning.
As we celebrate 100 years of Marist life and mission here in Greece, we cannot but help recall the courage, the sense of faith, the ability to live with uncertainty that were present among the brothers who traveled here a century ago. As is always the case with missionaries setting out, they may have lacked all the necessary preparation for the task that they had been given but they were men in love with God, filled with the same Spirit that inspired Marcellin Champagnat to begin his Institute, and a confidence in Mary that was unmatched.
From the moment they established their first school, Saint Denis, close to the center of Athens until today they found a sense of welcome, a diocese that quickly made them their own, and many hands extended to work with them.
Those who came here a century ago to plant the seeds of Marist life in this ancient land marked by wisdom and diversity, were bold enough to become involved with the Holy Spirit. They were on fire with God?s Word and they had a passion for transforming the lives of the young. Over time they learned how dangerous it can be to take seriously the presence of God?s Spirit but like Mary they trusted and let God lead the way.
Today, we are faced with a similar challenge: the challenge of renewing for our day and age the dream of Marcellin Champagnat. Here was a simple country priest and Marist Father whom God inspired to found a congregation devoted the evangelizing young people though education. Marcellin was never a good student, he struggled with studies. His hard work, though, love of God and willingness to do his will eventually won the day.
But Marist education is education unlike what is offered elsewhere. Marcellin insisted that his brothers and their lay partners place themselves in the midst of young people, that they have a special concern for those overlooked, marginalized, cut out, that they foster a family spirit among their students, demonstrate a love of work, and do everything in the manner of Mary. Let us pray for another century marked by God?s grace and in keeping with his will.
If a Marist school does anything, it should teach young people to dream. To dream large dreams, dreams about changing our world for the good and doing so with others in the name of Christ Jesus. Let that be our challenge during the years ahead.
A word of thanks this evening to the Archbishop and members of the clergy for taking us in, your brothers, and allowing us to live out our life and ministry among you. We are grateful for your patience, and thankful for you love and concern.
Thanks, too, to those who share ministry with us and the members of the Champagnat and other Marist fraternities. We share our faith, our passion for Jesus and his Good News, our desire to touch and transform the lives of the young. May we grow in knowledge of his will and his ways during the years ahead.
Thank you also to those invited guests and other friends of the Marist Institute for your interest and support. May both be there for another one hundred years.
Finally, thank you to my brothers in the Marist community. We have been entrusted with a precious charge: that of evangelizing the young. May Mary be our model, Marcellin our companion, and Jesus our passion as we set out to do just that: be heralds of God?s Good News to children and young people, especially the poor among them.
Thank you.


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