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Better Together - Marist Week Ireland 2017


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09/11/2017: Ireland


Recently I travelled to Ireland in response to an invitation by the Marists Ireland to spend some time working with their Marist schools. I am an experienced traveller, and handle the jetlag of a 20-hour flight well, but am predictably energised by encountering people in new places. One of my first engagements was celebrating 60 years of establishment of Moyle Park College, Clondalkin, which was founded by the Marist Brothers in 1957. In an extraordinary display of community, the town came together to promote their work, celebrate their achievements and share life together. As we were invited to listen to our special guests, I approached a spare seat near a young person and asked if I could sit beside him, to which he replied “Yes, please do.” I smiled and responded, “I have never heard someone say ‘yes, please do’ in my whole life.” I thought to myself ‘how refreshing’ and quickly learnt that this was just the beginning of many instances where I encountered that universal Marist hospitality and family spirit.

During my stay, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit all three schools: Moyle Park College, Clondalkin; Marist College, Athlone and Marian College, Ballsbridge. As you walk the long halls of these places, it is difficult to miss the striking and vibrant Marist posters; a collection of pictures and catchy phrases all depicting that of a healthy and animated Marist spirit. It is one thing to showcase the ideals of a Marist school, but it is another to see it alive in action. As I listened to students and staff it was apparent that these schools were more than just a display of rich imagery, but places that lived and embraced a sense of purpose, joy and communion. What I witnessed was more than just the efforts of Marist Core Teams and Marist Student Leaders, but an authentic sense of presence to all individuals. It was the stories, responses and conversations that echoed these experiences of community, ones that spoke of being united around a common set of values fundamental to Marcellin’s vision and practice. As is the beauty of our charism, it was because of this spirit and presence that I was once again reminded of the significance of being a universal family; working never in isolation, but always together in mission.

Enjoying the opportunity to meet many of the brothers in their respective communities, I often found myself gazing upon the many black and white photos hanging on their walls. These images spoke of a similar story: one of rich tradition, of perseverance and of passion. Their commitment to the development of these schools are the underpinnings of the legacy that remains and continues to reverberate down the school halls. Often, as we sat around the table drinking endless amounts of tea, I found myself truly believing that when the experience is shared together it enriches us all. For me this is fundamental in strengthening relationships with Marists throughout the whole Institute; to gather, to share and to dream together. Just like the bronze statues outside the Marist Brothers’ community in Athlone depicts, my experience in Ireland saw brothers, teachers and students alike, being models, guides and protectors, whilst encouraging all to imagine a limitless future.

Ryan Gato - Mission and Life Formation, Australia

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