The 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Marist Brothers is being celebrated in 2017.
Earlier in the year the Superior General of the Brothers, Br Emili, reflected on the significance of the occasion by focussing on three words: gratitude, forgiveness and commitment.
Here at Marist as we approach our 50th Jubilee next year it is appropriate to reflect on those 3 words as they impact on us.
Gratitude – we give thanks for:
- Generosity of people who have contributed to creating Marist to be the school it is today
- To parents, those from the earliest days to those here now for their support of the College and for entrusting their sons to our care
- To the 100 Marist Brothers who faithfully served and worked for the good of the boys to make sure Marist did provide the best all-round education possible
- To the 100’s of staff who in a variety of ways have worked for the boys to help them develop into fine young men
- To the 1000’s of boys who have attached themselves to the Marist ethos and culture and through their spirit and energy made it a wonderful Catholic school for boys
- For these things and the many blessings we’ve received we say thanks.
Forgiveness – like any community of people we are imperfect. There have been mistakes made and wrongs done in our history – there are things we are shameful of, things we must apologise for and ask forgiveness for. The cases of historical sexual abuse clearly stand out as the College’s greatest shame. On behalf of the College and the Marist Brothers I again apologise to each abuse victim and his family for the suffering and pain they experienced and endured. To you, all Marist people, I also apologise to you for the hurt and disappointment you feel because of the tragic events of the past. As well I ask forgiveness of those who have been unjustly treated or punished in our history. There are chapters in our history sadly when our culture, the quality of care and the standards of good behaviour were not as they are today. We ask forgiveness for the wrongs done in those times.
Commitment – mindful of our wrongdoings, aware of the human condition which affects our community we build on what is good from our past. We build on the traditions that are life-giving to this Marist family. We draw on the inspiration of authentic Marists. We gain inspiration from St Marcellin. We rely on Mary our good Mother as we focus on making Jesus known and loved for our boys. We do all this as our commitment to be the best Marist Catholic school we can be, a school that as a family aims to together create fine young men for another 50 years.
During our Mass this evening let us keep in mind all who need our prayers.
I ask that you take a moment to bring to mind your own intentions …
Mr Richard Sidorko
2017 College Captain's Address
“The distance is nothing, it is only the first step that is difficult.”
Good evening to the Marist family, to Mr Sidorko, Mr Greer, Monsignor John Wood, Father Richard Thompson, the staff, friends, families and students gathered here this evening. The Commencement Mass is always a special event on our Marist calendar, a chance for us to embrace the coming year as a community with keen anticipation. However, this Mass has never been a compulsory event. You are all here tonight because you chose to step forward and be involved. As a result, you will leave with the familiar sense of pride that comes from being part of our Marist family.
The theme of this, our bicentennial year, is AWAKEN and should not come as a vague invitation or an optional extra. AWAKEN should come in the form of a challenge, a test of our commitment to step outside our comfort zones. It should be a call to open our eyes to this day, this term, this year, to follow the example of Marcellin and take the first step toward involving ourselves in all that is Marist.
The idea of Awakening is to open our eyes to the opportunities, as well as the hardships around us. Two centuries ago, Saint Marcellin opened his eyes and saw the need for underprivileged children to receive an education. However, Marist wasn’t founded because Marcellin saw a problem, then put his feet up. It wasn’t until Marcellin took the first step and gathered his Brothers, until he had set up the first Marist school and literally carved the Hermitage into a cliff in the town of Lavalla, that he felt he had truly awoken to the problem. So to describe awakening as merely identifying a need is to leave our definition somewhat incomplete. Now, two hundred years on, if we gather under the Marist crest we have an obligation to not only awaken to the needs around us, but to actively take the first step, to get involved and make a difference.
I want to take a moment to unpack this idea of first steps. As journeys go, some would say that it is the last steps, the steps to completion that have the most significance, but I would argue that without the first step, there cannot be a second, third or last. It marks the point when we cease procrastinating and take action. And yes, the first step is often the hardest. Each morning we AWAKEN in our bed, the ultimate comfort zone, but to meet the challenges of our day, be it at work or school, the stage or the sporting field, we must convince ourselves to take that first step. This year boys, myself, your captains, your teachers and the wider Marist community are challenging you to AWAKEN and step forward to the countless opportunities available in 2017. To AWAKEN and strengthen our belief in hard work and a culture of mateship, values that have forged the Marist name over these 200 years.
Whether it’s the athletics carnival, Saturday sport, getting behind your House or joining in service, I only ask that you take the first step outside your comfort zone. How much further you choose to step is up to you, but remember that reward often comes in proportion to effort – the more effort you make, the greater your reward. And I don’t just mean winning or gaining recognition. I mean being able to look yourself in the eye and know that you AWAKENed to a need, whether it was the boy on his own, the mate who was struggling, the race that needed a runner or the service event that needed a volunteer. That you saw a need as an opportunity to place your feet in the footsteps of Champagnat and take a step towards doing something about it..
Now I will admit, as I’m sure every boy here will agree, that getting out of bed doesn’t get any easier. In fact, I’m sure most of the parents here would agree that getting us up has probably gotten a whole lot harder. But every day we AWAKEN, our feet hit the floor and our confidence to embrace the day’s events overcomes our uncertainty about what lies ahead. I have every faith in you boys that if you truly AWAKEN and take that first step, the possibilities for yourself, for Marist and the difference we can all make to our community is endless. As we stand at the dawn of a new school year and a new century of Marist pride, we should awaken refreshed and ready to run the good race, step by step. We will fight the good fight on the front foot, and everyday boys, we will keep the faith. Servo Fidem.
2017 College Captain