First Meeting of Representatives of Marist Institutions of Tertiary Education

News
5th - 8th November 2004, Curitiba
2004-11-13 - Brazil


The meeting started on the morning of the 5th November, with words of welcome from Brother Clemente Ivo Juliatto, Rector of the University that was host to the meeting, and Brother Emili Turú, General Councillor. The rest of the morning was devoted to a first series of presentations from delegates from various centres. Each was given fifteen minutes and could use audiovisual aids to help give a precise presentation.

After the meal at PUCPR (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná) the group had the opportunity to get to know the University better thanks to talks given by Professors Neuza Aparecida Ramos and Marilda Lili Corbellini, who presented respectively the educational and community projects, and by a quick visit to the campus of Curitiba.

The whole day of the 6th November was devoted to the reflection on the role of the Tertiary Education Institutions in the Marist Mission. Brother Manoel Alves, from the University of Brasilia, presented an interesting exposé: “From the heart of the Church to the heart of Champagnat.” He first analysed the historic evolution of university institutions in the Church, the evolution of their role in society, and he finished with Champagnat, an open and gentle man, animated by a passion “to make Jesus Christ known and loved.” Champagnat adopted all the means at his disposal to be present to the children and young people in the reality of their situations, especially the most neglected. We are reminded of this in the document In the Footsteps of Marcellin Champagnat, A Vision for Marist Education Today.

During the rest of the day, we reflected in small groups and then in the whole assembly. A small team was formed to write a resume of our shared reflection in order to be able to communicate this to the educational communities of the Tertiary Education Centres and to the Institute in general. This document will soon be available on our website.

On Sunday, 7th November, there was more time for the presentations by Marist Centres, followed by the Eucharistic celebration in the University chapel, where the pastoral ministry is provided by the Marist Fathers. The group then travelled to the “Fazenda Experimental Gralha Azul”, an experimental farm run by the PUCPR, to become familiar with the work of production and of research carried out on this 800-hectare property. The day ended with a quick visit to the most important sites of the city of Curitiba.

As planned, the presentations of the Marist Centres were completed on the morning of the 8th November and the rest of the day was devoted to future projects: the next meetings, possible collaboration between the Marist University Centres and possible services to the Institute. To achieve this, we adopted the following decisions:

*
To meet again in 2006, at the Notre Dame of Marbel University, in the Philippines.
*
The main themes of this meeting will be prepared by two small commissions, one for establishing a structure of co-ordination and support between the Tertiary Education Institutions, and another for reflecting on the Marist pedagogical principles relevant to this level of education.
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A research group was also established to study the possibility of sharing new communication technology.
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Finally, in response to a proposal from Brother John McMahon, on behalf of the Mission team in Oceania, requesting the creation of an International Institute of Marist Education in order to provide a formation in Marist Education and Administration (at the Masters or Doctorate levels), and to promote research in these areas for later distribution throughout the entire Institute. The Mission Commission of the General Council will study this proposal, in liaison with the Oceania Team that presented it.

Also on the 8th November, several Marist Centres, encouraged by the experience of this first meeting, took advantage of the occasion to sign pledges of collaboration, something that will surely be repeated again in the future.

The participants expressed a high degree of satisfaction during the final evaluation of the meeting. They emphasised the very warm welcome of the Province of Brasil Centro-Sul and of the PUCPR. They also emphasised the excellent family spirit that animated the whole meeting, as well as the high degree of achievement of the proposed objectives: to get to know each other, to reflect together and to plan for the future.

Fr. Emili Turú

Welcome to you all to this “First meeting of representatives of Marist Institutions of Tertiary Education”.

The Mission Commission of the General Council, in developing its Plan of Action for the period 2002-2009, stated as one of its objectives, the “support of work in teams and in mutual sup-port networks in the various regions of the Institute”. With this purpose, various initiatives have been implemented in the different continents, one of which is the present meeting.

In February of this same year, 2004, we consulted the Marist Institutions of Tertiary Education that we knew, concerning the possibility of holding a meeting of all those contacted. The re-sponse was unanimously positive, such that last June we sent the invitation, stating the follow-ing as the principal objectives of the meeting:

* To reflect together on the role of Marist Institutions of Tertiary Education within the MARIST MISSION.
* To begin a process of getting to know one another through shared information.
* To look into the possibility of further collaboration in the future.

And today, it is our pleasure to start this first meeting that without a doubt will enhance the excellent work of these various Institutions.

Throughout these days, we intend to all work together, helping us all to assume the responsi-bility that has been confided to us, as recommended to us in Vita Consecrata (97): “Because of the importance that Catholic and ecclesiastical universities and faculties have in the field of education and evangelisation, Institutes which are responsible for their direction should be conscious of their responsibility.”

With this in mind, allow me to remind you of two Marist texts that situate us clearly within the major purposes of our Institutions, at the service of the ecclesiastic mission:

1.
Firstly, we find in the publication In the Footsteps of Marcellin Champagnat, A Vision for Marist Education Today: “Our presence in the field of higher education gives us a privileged context to promote the dialogue between faith and contemporary thought. We foster high standards of academic discipline and research, contribute to cultural and social progress, and provide professional training and personal formation for future leaders. Through our campus ministry we assist students to integrate their develop-ment in faith with their personal ethics and their sense of social justice.” (156)
2.
Secondly, the 20th General Chapter gives us some very important guidelines to which we try to be faithful: “Go forward, Brothers and Lay persons together, in a clear and deci-sive way, drawing closer to the poorest and most marginalised of young people, through new ways in education, evangelisation and solidarity... We remain convinced that education is a privileged place for evangelisation and human promotion. We want to express our gratitude to all, Brothers and Lay people, who are so active in our schools and other Marist ministries. At the same time, we have a burning desire for our institutions to be clear signs of Gospel values and promoters of social justice. We pro-claim the right of education for all and we wish to involve our Marist mission in this campaign” (Choose life, 31 and 33).

As we begin this meeting, we feel part of a large extended family throughout five continents. We know that each one of us has been called to contribute our best, at the service of a collec-tive undertaking. No one is insignificant. All of us are important. The large and the small uni-versity centres, the schools at their various grades and levels, the educational programmes for marginalised or neglected children and young people… We form part of a beautiful collective project, in the most different situations and cultures, trying to be present to the children and young people in the very places where we find them.

We feel proud to be inheritors of a great spiritual and educational tradition, in communion with thousands of Marist educators through a great variety of educational arenas. We strive to “share and continue Marcellin’s dream” (cf. MEM 30). You, as directors, are “more than anyone else, the Champagnat figures for the school community”, a position that challenges you to be “people of vision: to articulate and live by our core Marist values”, and so likewise invites you to “lead with confidence and optimism, and to model Marist apostolic spirituality” (MEM 164).

Thank you for having accepted the invitation to be here today. Thank you, on behalf of the Superior General and of the other brothers of the General Council, for the educational work that is being carried out in your Institutions and for your service of animation so generously given.

Thank you, in a special way, to the Marist Province of Brasil Centro-Sul, as well as to the Pon-tifical Catholic University of Paraná, represented amongst us by Brother Clemente Ivo Juliatto, for your generous welcome and for all the facilities that you have put at our disposal that has made it possible to hold this meeting.
May Mary, our Good Mother, bless our work throughout these days and help them bear fruit.

Many thanks.
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