2006-01-31 GENERAL HOUSE

Publication of Champagnat?s Method of reading

Edition 22 of the Marist Notebooks has just been printed with three studies and one document. The studies are the work of Brothers Edward Clisby, Aureliano Brambila and Paul Sester, all of whom are regular contributors to this collection.

The work of Brother Edward Clisby on ?Marist Brothers and Maori in New Zealand? develops his previous work entitled ?Marist Educators in the Pacific 1836 ? 1870? offering us some characteristics of education in these geographical regions.
The work that is offered to us today is an up-to-date resume of the history of the relationship between the Marist Brothers and the Maori people. It was commissioned by the Province of New Zealand in 1996, completed in 1999 and published under the title ?The Marist Brothers and Maori: 1838 ? 1908?. Through reading it, one can become aware of what happened in these lands where ?in practice, it was not so simple. In the early years, the poverty of the Catholic missionaries, their lack of resources and support in a Protestant environment, their reliance on financial sources half a world away, meant that the brothers were chiefly engaged in laying the foundations of the material structure of the mission?? (page 12)

Brother Aureliano Brambila, with a style to which we are accustomed, has collected the more significant contents of Brother Basilio?s Circular on obedience in 1975 and included them in this article entitled ?Brother Basilio Rueda and his thinking on Religious Obedience?. Brother Basilio ?marvellously knew how to take advantage of the Circulars, that platform from which a Superior General can make his word heard. His Circulars were magisterial, large, full of ideas, as the difficult moment required it, when the customs and much more, the mentalities were collapsing. One of those Circulars was on religious obedience.? (page 23)

Brother Paul Sester, who named his study ?Champagnat and Finances?, starts his work claiming that ?the study of the financial management of the Institute during Father Champagnat?s life time is not an easy task. The relevant written records have not been correctly kept. The account books still extant mix up finances with various other matters and have not been strictly followed, leaving gaps of sometimes more than a year.? (p. 45) But he adds later, ?The interest of such a study is all the greater in showing, in addition to the work being done without cease at O.L. of the Hermitage, the enterprising character of Father Champagnat despite the financial difficulties with which his undertaking was strewn.? (pages 48, 49)

This edition of Marist Notebooks finishes with the publication of ?New principles of reading as used by the Brothers of Mary? also known as the ?Method of Reading? composed by Marcellin and his brothers, preceded by a work of Brother Maurice Bergeret realised with the desire to recover ?our old Marist works on reading as on many other subjects of teaching.? (page 67)

The importance of this text, whose forty-second edition was announced in the Circular dated the 11th November 1916 and of which scarce copies remain, rests in that Brother ?Jean-Baptiste Furet, Marcellin Champagnat?s first historian, makes it clear that the method of reading is one of the three elements inseparable from the fidelity of the first brothers to their vocation.? (page 66) Without doubt this contribution from Brother Maurice will generate a great deal of interest in coming to a greater awareness of one of the most significant pedagogical documents of our origins. And if some publishing house were to decide to include this in its catalogue as a remarkable pedagogical work contributed by the Marist Institute, it would surely merit its place in the History of Pedagogy.
Marist Notebooks number 22


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