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Saint Albert’s Comprehensive College, Bafut

 

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05/01/2010: Cameroon

 

A welcome address presented by Brother Francis Lukong, Principal of Saint Albert’s Comprehensive College, Bafut on the occasion of the inauguration of the college, the blessing and dedication of the chapel, the installation of the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel and the administration of the sacrament of Confirmation to our students.

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Your Grace, the Archbishop of Bamenda,
The Provincial Superior of the Marist Province of the Mediterranean
The Superior of the Marist District of West Africa
The Regional Delegate of Secondary Education
The Divisional Delegate of Secondary Education
The Catholic Education Secretary, Archdiocese of Bamenda
The Senior Divisional Officer Mezam
The Divisional Officer Bafut
The Mayor of Bafut Rural Council
His Majesty the Fon of Bafut
Traditional Chiefs of Bafut
Principals, staff and students of catholic colleges and those of Bafut Sub-division
Priests and religious men and women
Friends, benefactors and well wishers
The PTA President and the Exco-members
The parents and guardians
The teaching and boarding staff
Dear students,

On behalf of the Marist Brothers, teachers and students I welcome you to Saint Albert’s Comprehensive College, Bafut on this significant occasion of its official inauguration, the blessing and dedication of the chapel, the installation of the Blessed Sacrament and the administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation to our students. I thank you for honouring our invitation. Saint Albert’s College started in September 2005 and has been growing rapidly and in every sense of the word. We have the essential facilities, 729 students and the staff strength of 45 serious men and women. We are sending out our first batch of students in June 2010 and in September 2010 the second cycle will start.

If we are at this stage it is because God is with us. It is appropriate therefore to thank Him, sing His praises and glorify His Name. We thank God for the students, teachers and the Chaplains whose daily activities and contribution make Saint Albert’s College a lively and meaningful place; for the first batch of students, staff, Chaplains and parents for their courage, patience, determination and perseverance, for the good partnership existing between the PTA and the school; for the contractors and their builders who have done a marvelous work of building this school. These include Mr. Alfred Encho, Mr. Essoka, Mr. Jacob Tangye and Mr. Timothy; for Brother Joseph Descarga now on Mission Ad Gentes in Asia who supervised and facilitated the construction of the school buildings; for Dr. Nick Ngwanyam of Saint Louis Clinic Nkwen who directed Brother Francis Verye and Brother Jose Antonio to this place and suggested to them that this was the best environment for a Marist school, for the Catholic Education Secretariat for facilitating the smooth take off of Saint Albert’s College, and for Archbishop Emeritus, Paul Verdzekov for his prayerful support and words of encouragement.

Thank God for the Archbishop of Bamenda, His grace Cornelius Esua here present for the interest and concern that he has for Saint Albert’s College. Besides providing the Chaplains he has always found time to respond to our spiritual and pastoral needs in spite of his heavy responsibility.

Thank God for Mr. Albert Neba of blessed memory who sold this land on which the school now stands. He is certainly very happy to know that a school is functioning here.

Thank God for those who have been working hard preparing for this occasion and for all the principals, staff and students of Catholic colleges from far and near as well as those of Bafut Sub-division who have come to be with us today and to give us support.

Thank God for the relentless effort of the superiors of the Marist District of West Africa to ensure that Saint Albert’s College continues to fulfill the mission that God has entrusted to the Marist Brothers.

Thank God for Rev. Brother Manuel Jorques, who is the Provincial Superior of the Marist province of the Mediterranean which has the Marist District of West Africa including Cameroon as an integral part. We honour him today for his wonderful effort regarding Saint Albert’s College, Bafut. He has worked tirelessly for the past eight years to make sure that Saint Albert’s College is what it is today. He is certainly the happiest person today to see that so many students are benefiting from his great effort. This has not been an easy task for him. Nevertheless his determination, hard work and belief in good education motivated him to overcome all the difficulties that he encountered.

Saint Albert’s College is a Marist school not because it is owned and run by the Marist Brothers of the Schools, but because its character is inpired by the tradition we have inherited from Saint Marcellin Champagnat and the first Marist Brothers. The Marist Brothers of the Schools are a religious congregation of men founded on the 2nd of January 1817 by Saint Marcellin Champagnat and approved by the Holy See in 1863 as an autonomous Institute of Pontifical Right. Champagnat’s apostolic zeal, his openness to the events, people and to the promptings of the Holy Spirit made him sensitive to the needs of his times especially to the ignorance concerning religion among young people and the poor circumstances in which they were placed. Saint Albert’s College is a concrete sign of the charism; the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church which we, the Marist Brothers are custodians and promoters.

On this occasion of the inauguration of a Marist school it is appropriate that I share with you what exactly makes Saint Albert’s College a Marist school. Our style of educating is based on a vision that is truly holistic and that consciously seeks to communicate values. We use a distinctive pedagogical approach which Saint Marcellin Champagnat and the first Marist Brothers initiated and which was innovative in many of its aspects. We share their intuition that “to educate or bring up children properly, we must love them, and love them all equally.” that is devoting ourselves completely to teaching them and to taking all the means that an industrious zeal can think of in order to form them in virtue and piety. This is the “Golden Rule for Marist Educators. From this principle flow the particular characteristics of our style of educating namely; presence, simplicity, family spirit, love of work and following the way of Mary.

We educate by being PRESENT to our students in ways that show that we care for them personally. We make time for them beyond merely professional contacts in order to know each one individually. We create opportunities that make us become involved in their lives, and welcome them into ours. By so doing we become attentive and welcoming, listen and engage them in dialogue. In this way we earn their trust and foster their openness.

Secondly our SIMPLICITY expresses itself primarily through genuine and straightforward contacts with our students undertaken without pretence or duplicity by telling them what we believe and showing that we believe what we tell them. We base this on the understanding that
A child is one of the most loveable and most beautiful things on earth, a garden God has given us to cultivate, a weak plant who will one day become a great tree loaded down with the fruit of all the virtue, casting far and wide its glorious shade.

The home of Nazareth in which Jesus grew up is the model for our family spirit and a Marist school which finds expression in love of work. Our founder, Saint Marcellin champagnat was a man of work and a sworn enemy to laziness. Love of work implies a careful preparation of our classes and educational activities, thorough correction of student’s assignment, planning and evaluation of our programmes and additional accompaniment or pastoral care to students who are experiencing any sort of difficulties. Through this pedagogy of love of work we seek to help our students develop good characters, balance moral consciences, solid values on which to base their lives as well as acquire a co-operative and socially-sensitive approach to serving others in need.

Mary is the perfect model of a Marist educator. Her way of bringing up Jesus at Nazareth inspires our pedagogical approach. Like Saint Marcellin Champagnat we look to her as Good Mother and Ordinary Resource.

Saint Marcellin Champagnat is the life-giving root of Marist Education. He was a born teacher and a man of practical vision. He believed that good education is the surest way to form good citizens for society.

A Marist school is centre of learning, of life and of evangelization. As Marist educators we strive to lead students ‘to learn to know, to be competent, to live together and most especially to grow up as good people. Our work goes beyond imparting information to our students to EDUCATING them namely; developing, strengthening and bringing to perfection every faculty of their souls; above all forming their hearts, their wills, their characters, their consciences and their judgements. Motivated by his desire ‘to make Jesus Christ known and loved,’ Saint Marcellin Champagnat saw education as the way to lead young people to the experience of personal faith and of their vocation as ‘good Christians and virtuous citizens’.

Marist Brothers and Marist educators are not simply professional persons concerned with the systematic transmission of knowledge but evangelizers and educators devoted to forming men and women to take their place in society and transform it with the Gospel.

Teachers, parents and students I would like to use this occasion to invite you to share the Marist vision of education. Marist educators are not only Marist Brothers. Anyone who educates with the Marial spirit of total collaboration with God for the service of humanity is a Marist educator.

Once again I thank all of you for coming to be with us today. I wish you the protection of Saint Marcellin Champagnat, Saint Albert and above all God’s blessing.

_______________
Brother Francis Lukong
Principal SACC Bafut

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