A message from the National Director
Quite a number of us have shared the powerful experience of gathering in the small ground-floor room of the first Marist house in Lavalla, France, around that old table that was built by Marcellin himself. As we have sat there - often enough to celebrate the Eucharist with others of our Marist companions - we may have allowed our minds to imagine Marcellin himself at the same table, in animated conversation with his young Brothers, sharing life and sharing dreams.
Something profound developed during the first eight years when the nascent Marist movement began to take shape in that modest house at Lavalla. For most of these years, the number of Marists could be counted in single figures. It is an eclectic bunch, its members ranging in age, personality, and in readiness. But they were together. From the very start, Marcellin saw this as a key aspect of how Marists would be: they were to live, to pray and to work together. He himself, contrary to the clerical custom of time, moved out of his more comfortable parish prebytery to be one with his brothers.
It was with one another that they became Marist. It was with one another that they stayed Marist. They shared in common not only a mission - that of making Jesus Christ known and loved through Christian education of the young - but they brought together their human and spiritual lives. They accompanied one another in the adventure of gospel living, and they did this in the distinctive way that they learnt from Marcellin. Around them, on the walls of the house and still visible today, the Founder put up little sayings and epigraphs that captured the essence of how this might happen. They were the first articulation of what today we might call our Marist spirituality and mission.
This year, as we move to consolidate the start we made in 2010 with Marist Schools Australia, let us be inspired by the same intuitions. Let us see ourselves not as some kind of organisation or corporate structure, but rather as companions gathering. Marist Schools Australia is not motivated by the Marist Brothers' wanting to rationalise their resources, or to establish a more effective stewardship of schools, or to devise a more efficient way of exercising responsibilities and accountabilities. It might be all those things, but that is not what MSA is about in essence. For this project to be Marist, it must be about people, and people who see themselves as the spiritual and apostolic companions of one another.
In the spirit of those first Marists with Marcellin at Lavalla, we gather around a figurative table. An Australian table. Our hope is that there will be a place for all at that table. Whether we come to the Marist mission as a woman or a man, as consecrated, lay or ordained, as a teacher, a boarding supervisor, a nurse, a business manager, a secretary, a counsellor, a gardener, a chef, or whatever, we come as Marists. Together, we are about forming a movement of people and a family of schools.
Just as the Lavalla years were defining for the first Marists, so these foundational years of MSA, and the creation of a new Australian Province, will be defining for the spirit of future Australian Marists. May we go about it with the same passion and generosity of heart as those who began our Marist way, and may we do it gathered around the same table.
Brother Michael Green FMS
Marist Schools Australia
What is Marist Schools Australia?
Marist Schools Australia draws together Catholic schools which shape their identity and mission through the spirituality and educational approach that was introduced into the Church by St Marcellin Champagnat in the early nineteenth century, and which has continued to be developed by the Marist Brothers and Lay Marists.
MSA provides its member schools with leadership, support and, where applicable, governance, in order that they can continue to be authentic Marist educational communities.
The first priority of MSA is to nurture the faith and spirituality of today’s Marists, which include not only Brothers but thousands of Lay Marists, and also priests who minister to them.
The Mission of Marist Schools
Marists understand their mission to be a sharing in Mary’s work of bringing Christ-life to birth in young people, and of nurturing its growth in them. They gather family around them, standing with the Church as it comes to be born.
Marists believe that the Catholic school is a most effective place in which to undertake this privileged task.