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EducareM: Sixth Annual Headteachers’ National Retreat.

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Sr. Judith Russi, Director of EducareM with Marist retreat attendees Alan Craven and Gerry Lambe (St. Mary’s College Dundalk).

The 6th Annual Headteachers’ National Retreat took place in Coombe Abbey, Coventry on the 15th-16th June 2017.  At the invitation of the MEA, Mr. Alan Craven (Incoming Principal, St. Mary’s College Dundalk) and Mr. Gerry Lambe (Deputy Principal, St. Mary’s College Dundalk) were in attendance. The theme of this year’s retreat was ‘Headteachers: A Call to Dialogue and Encounter’. Sr. Judith Russi, Director of EducareM, opened the retreat with a warm welcome to all the attendees, especially those who had travelled from Wales, Scotland and Ireland. She introduced Canadian priest, Fr. Michael Brehl C.Sr.R, the Superior General of the Redemptorists who was to be the spiritual leader for the retreat and who delivered four reflections over the course of the two days.

  • Meeting Jesus: The Joy of Encounter

In his introductory reflection, Fr. Michael spoke of the awesome and humbling responsibility Catholic Headteachers are entrusted with regarding the mission of the Church. He explained how creating opportunities for children to encounter God is a central feature of this mission. He stated that how we present God is a critical influence on children and stressed the importance of reflecting the humanity of Jesus to children so they can ‘encounter’ him as a real person. He wished for the joy of the Gospel to fill the hearts of all those who encounter Jesus, especially children.

  • Becoming Friends: Servants to Companions

In his second session, Fr. Michael reflected on how to become ‘friends’ with Jesus. He defined friendship as ‘a real concern for the good of the other’ and detailed how genuine friendship must get beyond the image we project. He concluded his reflection by explaining how in the words of Pope Francis ‘few human joys are as deep… as those achieved through working together’.

  • Welcoming Community: The Gift of Family

In this third reflection, Fr. Michael considered the significance of ‘family’ in the life of the Church. He emphasised the role of Mary and her qualities of ‘tenderness, mercy and compassion’. He explained how Mary’s mission was to display a mother’s tenderness in marrying compassion for all those who suffer with a passion for justice. This of course held a particular resonance for us as Marist delegates.

  • Vocation: Missionary Disciples and Prophetic Witnesses in a Wounded World

In his final discourse, Fr. Michael explored what does renewed evangelism mean for us today. As in his opening session he found answers in the theme of joy and echoed Pope Francis’ belief that ‘joy is at the heart of the mission of the Church’. True evangelism he explained is keeping the mission as a central focus in all the day to day work that we do.

 

Outside of Fr. Michael’s discussions, attendees had the opportunity to engage in reflection and prayer, or explore the parklands that surrounded the hotel. A service of reconciliation was held on the first evening, while Archbishop of Liverpool Malcolm McMahon brought the Retreat to a close with the celebration of the Eucharist.

Alan Craven

‘Maristes En Education’: Meeting 23rd -25th March, 2017. La Neyliere.

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La Neylière: A Visit with ‘Maristes en Education’, 23rd -25th March, 2017.

In the weeks leading up to my two-day trip to la Neylière I had been told by my colleagues about the feeling of community, the camaraderie and the wonderful surroundings. However, it was only upon my arrival that I realised where this ‘Marist’ feeling and ethos, that is ever-present in my school and every-day life at work, originated.

Everyone had gathered because of a common and shared interest – to learn more about the Marist way; to reflect on one’s own practice and values and to share experiences of how it is for each individual to be a part of the Marist community. The participants had all attended voluntarily, meaning everyone was eager to get involved, mingle and share stories. This open and honest atmosphere set the tone for the two days in la Neylière.

Being the only teacher from a Marist school outside of France, it was interesting to hear the different approaches the French establishments have in the teaching of their students but also in how they create and maintain the ‘Marist’ atmosphere within their schools.

Overall, the two days were organised extremely well- including masses, meditation sessions, entertainment and a series of workshops that focused on the theme of ‘Vocation humaine et orientation’. These workshops encouraged the participants to mix as a group and hinged largely on self-reflection - a reflection of one’s own experience of vocation and what this word meant to each individual. This session revealed diverse opinions, individual paths that people had taken and choices they had made but ultimately everyone had one thing in common – life had led them in one way or another to become a member of the Marist community.

Personally, I took a lot from the workshops, which were led by a passionate and engaging speaker, Isabelle Parmentier, but there were several points that have stayed with me since then. When asked the question ‘Why did you become a teacher?’ the majority of the group answered something to the effect of ‘Because I love children.’ – the expected response for anyone who feels their work with young people is enriching and rewarding. However, this is not how we should answer this question. If we are to live out the Marist ethos behind education, we must instead answer ‘In order to love children’. We must replace the ‘because’ with ‘in order to’ – in order to help them, in order to encourage them, in order to enrich their lives – this is what our vocation as teachers calls us to do.

A quote from Jean Claude Colin sums up the Marist view on our role as educators;

When a man leaves the hands of his nurse, he is only sketched in rough. We must make

      him into a man, form his heart, his character, his virtue etc.’

Words that continued to appear over the weekend included happiness, courage, meeting, calling, faith, companionship, trust and invitation. These are all words that not only sum up my first visit to la Neylière but also that embody the Marist ethos and what it means to be a member of the Marist community.

 

Emma Murphy, St Mary’s College, Dundalk

 

 

 

 

 

Religion Teachers meet in Dublin

On Wednesday November 16,th representatives of the Religious Education teachers from the three Marist schools and members of the Marist Education Authority met with Rev. Professor Declan Marmion. The afternoon began with a presentation delivered by Professor Marmion examining the role of Mary. We explored the New Testament texts which make reference...