Principal's Blog - 8 June 2017
This week our College community celebrated the feast of St Marcellin Champagnat through our annual Champagnat day. This day of Liturgy, Learning and Laughter would not have been possible without the support of the entire Marcellin community. I would like to pay particular tribute to the College Student Representative Council who, supported by Deputy Principal Adriano Di Prato, Heads of School Clive Haese and Pauline Bellafiore and our House Leaders organised the majority of the days activities. I would also like to thank our College's Ministry Team and Monsignor Tony Ireland from St Gregory the Great Parish for providing us with a meaningful and engaging celebration of the Eucharist. Finally I wish to thank the wonderfully generous volunteer mums who cooked nearly 3000 sausages to satisfy our hungry boys under the watchful eye of AP (Operations) Nick Moloney. Below is my Champagnat Day Address.
Good morning, members of the Marcellin College Family, Happy Feast day to you all. It is great to be with you as we celebrate the feast of our founder St Marcellin Champagnat in this year of the Marist Bicentenary and the enduring legacy of love and service he has left to the Hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world who have accepted the gift of the Marist Charism.
I love my mum. That might seem like a pretty random statement to make on a day when we celebrate the life and legacy of Champagnat. But I say again, I love my mum. I can say with certainty that I would not be the man I am today without the unconditional love and belief she has for me. As a boy and a young man it was my mum who believed in me and stood by me at my most difficulty moments. It was my mum whose shoulder I would lean on, and sometimes cry on when things went wrong. It was mum I would turn to most for advise, wisdom and encouragement. It was my mum too who would challenge me the most. There were as many times when she would console me as there were when she suggested that I should toughen up. She always seemed to know the right moment to apply both these forms of love.
What a fortunate man am I too have such a person in my corner. I reckon Marcellin Champagnat was similarly fortunate.
Marcellin’s mum, Marie Therese Chirat, was born in Marhles France in 1746. In 1775 Marie married Jean-Baptist Champagnat. They settled in the little hamlet of Le Rosey in the Parish of Marhles and raised ten children there – Saint Marcellin being the ninth.
A women of integrity, unwavering faith and a love of work, Marie Therese Chirat raised her children in a loving and supportive environment.
Marie was a women of strong character, who managed her household with thrift and perfect order. Her solid faith was reinforced by all the virtues belonging to dedicated wife and mother and her life centred on the care of her family and the education of her children.
Such was the respect and esteem in which Marie was held in the village that the neighbouring women often sort her out in times of trouble, doubt and necessity; they never went away without experiencing the effect of her charity, discretion and wisdom; She provided her community with great comfort and encouragement as well as a good deal of practical support in their moments of need.
Marie was a woman of few words and never got involved in the town gossip of the small hamlet of Le Rosy.
Her favourite saying was that we should look to the proper governing of our own life and to the conduct of those under our care, not worrying about the behaviour of others or about matters that don’t concern us. In other words mind your own business!
I am sure that Marie loved all her children equally but I also think she saw something special in her second youngest child, Marcellin. Like any good mother Marie had great faith in her son. She was also a realist and well understood her son’s short comings. However, she devoted herself to walking with him and supporting him particularly in his more difficult moments. Like all her children Marie went in to bat for Marcellin when she saw the need.
After Marcellin’s first year of study for the priesthood his teacher wrote to Marie suggesting that her boy did not have what it takes to become a priest. He said “Your boy is obstinate in his desire to study, but you would be wrong in allowing him to do so; he has too few talents to succeed”¬
The mother stood by her son. She believed in him, she knew in her heart the he was destined for greater things. This aging woman walked the forty kilometres from Marhles to La Louvsec over steep and harsh terrain with Marcellin to a sacred place of pilgrimage to pray with and for her son. Marie also made representation to Marcellin’s teachers and persuaded them to allow her boy to continue. And thank God she did!
If it were not for Marie Therese Chirat, Marcellin may not have gone on to reach his potential and therefore this College and thousands of schools and ministries throughout the world serving hundreds of thousands of young people in need would simply not exist.
Marcellin’s mum was an ordinary woman like all our mums. But like all our mums too she had an extraordinary love for her children. A love which knows no bounds. She displayed all the characteristics of her most favoured saint, Mary the Mother of Jesus. Qualities of humility, love, service and hope. Qualities which she would pass onto her son. I am sure that Marie’s example inspired Marcellin to devote his life to the service of Mary our Good Mother.
I am so grateful and encouraged that our community saw fit to recommend this incredible woman as the name of our new house. I encourage those who are discerning application to Chirat House to reflect on her life and more importantly think about how they can model the qualities of this good mother to all in the Marcellin College family.