Dear members of the Marcellin College family,
In last week’s eagle article I began to provide an understanding of who we are as a College Community and what we stand for. I explained that the best starting point for the development of an understanding of our identity is our College Vision Statement. This week I would like to continue this discussion by focussing on the second part of this statement highlighted below.
Marcellin College is a Catholic Marist boys’ school that is the centre of a community of learning, life and faith. In partnership with families, we nurture our students as they grow from boys to fine young men.
We bring the Marist charism to all members of our community through the teachings of St. Marcellin Champagnat and the Gospel. We are a community where Jesus is known and loved, where each boy belongs and the dignity of all is respected.
We empower young people to embrace all opportunities spiritually, academically, physically, culturally and socially with determination to strive for the highest.
The second section of the Marcellin College Vision Statement speaks of our identity as a Catholic School in the Marist tradition. To fully appreciate the significance of this aspect of our distinctive character we need to go back to the time of St. Marcellin Champagnat himself and one of the foundational stories of the Marist Brothers – The story of Jean-Baptiste Montagne.
On October 28, 1816, three months after his ordination, Marcellin was called to the Montagne home where 16 year old Jean-Baptiste Montagne was dying. As Marcellin prepared to hear the confession of Jean-Baptiste, he realized that the young man had little religious or academic education. It occurred to Marcellin that Jean-Baptiste was one of many young people victimized by lack of education during and after the French Revolution. After offering words of support and faith to the boy Marcellin left to attend to other families in the village. On his way home he again visited the boy only to discover that he had died.
Marcellin's own difficult school experience and his encounter with Jean-Baptiste Montagne made him realise that he had to do something to combat the illiteracy and spiritual poverty of the young people in rural France.
Three months later Marcellin founded the religious community, "The Marist Brothers of the Schools" (also known as "The Little Brothers of Mary") to make known, through their lives and service, the love of Jesus and Mary – especially where access to love and support, education and catechism was remote.
When the Marist brothers founded Marcellin College firstly at Camberwell in 1950 and later at Bulleen in 1963 they had one aim in mind – to make Jesus known and loved. They set out to achieve this through a program of academic and spiritual education in an atmosphere where all were loved and loved equally.
At Marcellin in 2014 these words are as vital to our approach to educating boys as they were 60 years ago when Marcellin was founded and almost 200 years ago when Marcellin founded his first schools in rural France. Every policy, program, decision and interaction in the Marcellin Community should always be originated in the philosophy of St. Marcellin Champagnat.
The Marist Charism is made real to our students in many ways every day at Marcellin. Last week for example many of our staff and students embarked on our annual Year 11 and 12 retreats. Over a three day period our staff and students took time away from the rigors and pressures of VCE/VCAL studies to reflect on their faith, to learn more about the Christian story and that of the Marists and to discern what it is to be that which St. Marcellin would describe as good Christians and good citizens in the 21st century.
In their house groups our senior students and staff along with a number of past students ventured out to nine different venues to spend time in the company of each other to recognise and understand what it is to become a good man. I was privileged to spend time with an exceptional group of young men from Lavalla House and I was inspired by their ability to engage maturely and thoughtfully in discussion and reflection on the concepts of personal identity, faith and what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. The feedback I received from the other staff who attended the other eight house venues provided similar stories about how engaged and connected our boys were with the activities and programs offered over these three days.
Infrequently there are some who question the sense in taking students away from the College at this most crucial time in their academic lives. To those people I say three things. Firstly, there is no doubt that classes and study are of vital importance to our students at this time. However, so too is discerning what it is to be a good man in the world today, God knows we could use more of them. Secondly, these are the times when students and teachers develop even stronger relationships, mutual understanding and a sense of belonging to school which will assist them in achieving their best in the classroom. Finally, and most importantly, our faith and the Marist Charism is central to who we are as a College Community and we believe that there is nothing more important in the grand scheme of things than helping our boys to develop an understanding and appreciation of that.
I would like to thank all those staff and old collegians who took time away from their families and work and who gave so much of themselves in providing these valuable experiences with our students. I would particularly like to thank Rana Brogan, Acting Director of Mission for her overall organisation and coordination of these retreats ably supported by Russell Melenhorst – Faith and Liturgy Coordintor, Angela Tsostos – Remar Coordinator, Grace Florio – Ministry Assistant and Brother Mark – College Chaplain.