Marist School Australia

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It is a fact not always appreciated by those in authority that among the least effective means for sharing information or for ensuring compliance is the method of decree or written notice.  Any school principal knows this, as would any head of department or head of house or director of boarding: putting something on paper or in a memo can have zero effect.  “What do you mean you didn’t know? I put it up on the noticeboard.” “It was in this week’s staff bulletin.” “I sent everyone an email about that.” “It’s on the intranet under ‘staff policies’.”

I was once chastised by an Italian when I ignorantly suggested that Italians needed better rules and laws to achieve more order and regulation.  No, she assured me, Italy has some of the most noble and comprehensive laws of any country; people just don’t take any notice of them.

Perhaps the Italian connection is where we sometimes go wrong in the Roman Catholic Church.  We also have some of the most richly worded documents ever penned.  But with what result? There’s a lot more to making something a reality than posting it on the Vatican website.

To wit: last week’s Message from the Synod on the New Evangelisation.  Have you read it?  Let me know if you have and  I’ll put a holy card for you in today’s mail.  I suspect that my postage bill won’t be too high.  Make yourself a cuppa or  pour yourself a scotch and have a read: www.news.va/en/news/synod-message-to-the-people-of-god. Perhaps more might have glanced through the interview with Brother Emili Turú which was published on the Marist Brothers’ website: www.champagnat.org/400.php?a=6&n=2580. Both are worth your reading, even though there is a bit of church-speak through which to wade in the first one.

The Message of the Synod begins with reference to a profound passage from John’s Gospel (and interestingly a favourite  of our own Founder): that of the encounter of the Samaritan woman with Jesus (John 4:5-42).  It is a piece of Scripture  that captures two essential elements that people such as us Marists who aspire to be effective evangelisers need ensure happen: genuine encounter with Jesus and genuine dialogue with people. It was exactly what the Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams said in one of the opening addresses of the Synod.  And one of the places where this can happen most effectively, the Synod message recognises (#10) is in the Catholic school. 

The bishops of the Synod have a particular message for our part of the world:  “[We] greet the people of Oceania who live under the protection of the Southern Cross, [and] thank you for your witness to the Gospel of Jesus. Our prayer for you is  that you might feel a profound thirst for new life, like the Samaritan woman at the well, and that you might be able to hear  the word of Jesus which says: If you knew the gift of God (John 4:10). May you more strongly feel the commitment to preach the Gospel and to make Jesus known in the world of today. We exhort you to encounter him in your daily life, to listen to him and to discover, through prayer and meditation, the grace to be able to say: We know that this is truly the Saviour of the World (John 4:42).” (#13). 

If our Marist schools are to be authentically schools of the Gospel, then this is really our abiding challenge: that we who  teach in them be people who have met Jesus along the road and have been forever changed by that meeting, and that we  listen to and engage with love the young people in our care.  This was Marcellin’s way. If we learn anything from him, let us learn that.


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