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Meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew 1st,

 

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Voyage to Istanbul of the Lycée Léonin of Patissia

21/11/2011: Greece - Photo gallery

The Lycée Léonin of Patissia and the French Turkish Lycée Saint Benoît have been linked for some time by a very special friendship. Not only because the Brothers from the Istanbul school come to Greece founded the network of the Marist Schools of Greece, but especially because it is now seven years since the first school exchange, in which Greek and Turkish students have the possibility of coming to know one another and enjoy a sincere and cordial hospitality.

The exchange with the historic school in Istanbul does not constitute, as might first appear, a simple opening of the Lycée Léonin towards a foreign country. It is not a matter of an excursion for entertainment, nor a simple search for the common cultural elements of two neighbouring peoples who have suffered much in the past. The exchanges with the Lycée Saint Benoît are not that sort of thing. They are much more: a Voyage towards another culture, other usages and customs, another   vision and conception of the world, towards « this extraordinary phenomenon of survival which is  Constantinople, not that of one Empire but of two Empires » of G. Séféris. Voyage to one of the  most beautiful cities in the world in common opinion, to the city of the seven hills. A voyage to a  city where we Greeks feel an intense emotion as soon as we set foot there.  A Voyage, for with this  daily contact with the Turkish students and their families, our students, in most cases, create bonds of friendship which will accompany them throughout their lives. A Voyage, for through this experience we discover that in fact what unites us is more important than what separates us. A Voyage, for in our memory, whether Brothers, teachers or students (Orthodox or Catholic), our meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew 1st, remains indelible. His talk, his counsels and his exhortations are a voyage.

This year, for the first time, the Ecumenical Patriarch did not receive us as usual in the throne room at Phanar. As he did not want to refuse a meeting with each of the eight schools which had come this Friday afternoon to the Patriarchate, His Holiness Bartholomew 1st received us altogether in the chapel of Saint George in Phanar.  «In coming to the Patriarchate, I would like you to have the impression of coming home, of thinking that it is your father who welcomes you, for in coming here, I want you to know that I await you with the love of a father».

 

The meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch is an event of primordial importance since it is a question of a meeting with a religious leader gifted with a rich personality and enjoying the  respect of many religious leaders of other faiths as well as Turkish Moslems. Thus, not only because of his rank, but because of the impact of his personality, any address of the Primate of the Orthodox Church carries undeniable importance. 

From this angle, the fact that His Holiness Bartholomew 1st consecrated five minutes of his talk (of a length of 20 minutes) to the Lycée Léonin of Patissia, was a privilege and a great honour. In his talk, the Ecumenical Patriarch made a lengthy reference to the prestige, to the influence of the  Lycée Léonin while praising its history and the discreet presence of the Marist Brothers. He mentioned in particular Brother Ignace Capétanios, representing the Marist Brothers of Greece, emphasizing: «I would like particularly to greet Brother Ignace Capétanios, who represents the group from the Lycée Léonin of Patissia. I thank him as well for having passed on to me the  salutations of the other Lycée Léonin, that of  Néa Smyrni. Brother Ignace is one of our most faithful visitors and as a good Captain  he has been at the helm of the two Lycées Léonins for a considerable time, and we are proud to see him come and return each time always full of respect and love here at the Ecumenical Patriarchate ».

The Ecumenical Patriarch revealed himself as unionist and at the close of his discourse he emphasized, among other things, the quintessence of the philosophy of Christianity: «Brother Ignace is Catholic, and I studied for three years with Catholics with the Jesuit Fathers in Rome.  However, we feel close to one another, for effectively there is no distinction – as I said to you before – we must look at the human being as a human being. It might be that the person before us is Catholic, Moslem, Buddhist or even non-believer, this should not in any case diminish our respect towards our neighbor for it is the question of a human being for whom Christ suffered and was crucified. The value of the human being resides in this: it is for him that God died. And I repeat that God rose again on the third day, for death cannot keep forever the Creator of life. We wish then the Lycée Léonin as warm a welcome as the other schools, the great and the small in this festive ambiance which announces the coming of Easter».

We hope and wish that this tradition of exchanges of the two schools continues in the future.

____________________
The teachers of the Lycée Léonin of Patissia :
Kapsalis Miltiadis, Mamalis Panagiotis, Katsani Eirini

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