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27/11/2012: Australia

 

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Dear Members of the Marist Family.
We’re on the home straight.  Speech nights and prize-givings are mostly wrapped up, reports written for the annual magazine, annual plans reviewed and ticked-off.  As early as this week, some of our schools will be farewelling  students for the long summer break.  The 2012 academic year draws to its close.
How have we done?  There’s probably been no time when measures of effectiveness have been more rigorously exercised in schools than today.  From NAPLAN, to MySchool, to diocesan and school-level strategic planning, to forensic analyses of Year 12 results – the scrutiny can be burdensome. Much of it is shallow, one-dimensional and trite; we know that, and it annoys us. Just leave us alone, we protest, we know what we’re doing. 
But it is always important to ponder and to evaluate, to stop and to take stock.  Essential, really. That sage injunction of Socrates – that the unexamined life is not worth living – has lost none of its ancient wisdom.  So which criteria could we best use to reflect on the year that’s been?  Let me suggest one criterion that each of us might address, one among others.  
At the start of this year, we proposed a theme for Marist schools across Australia: “Encounter. Eyes opened, hearts burning.”   The Scriptural sources for the theme came from each end of Luke’s gospel: Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth, and the post-resurrection meeting of two disciples with Jesus on the road to Emmaus.  We reminded ourselves that our Marist way of Christian education called us to a twofold encounter: we with Jesus, and our students with us.  We described it as our “Visitation spirituality”, one that led to a fervour to go into the “hill country” of the lives of young people, carrying the Good News of the faithfulness, love and justice of God, causing “Christ-life” to stir in them, giving them hope and joy, opening their eyes and prompting their hearts to burn.  To quote from the introduction to this year’s MSA brochure:
Marcellin charges us in 2012 to change everything for the young people whom we teach: to change everything by breaking open for them the faith that is deep in each of them, and so to give them reason to hope and impulsion to love.  
Our young people need that of us.  So how have well have we served them?  I’m sure that, by and large, we have done so magnificently.  We’ve done it generously and selflessly.  Teaching calls for that: for people who are big of heart, and who, before all else, love their students; people who can live out all those qualities of love that St Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 13. At a time when the credibility of Catholic and other social institutions once again risks being compromised by all the coverage of the abhorrent crimes that have led to the proposed Royal Commission, our young people need us to be credible men and women of the Gospel. People of hope. They need us, like Mary, to rise above any doubts we may have about God’s capacity to transform us, and to continue to be faithful. 
May the approaching Advent and Christmas seasons be a time for all of us to renew that Christ-life within us, to celebrate it, and to radiate it.
_______________
Brother Michael Green  fms
NATIONAL DIRECTOR

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