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Marist Educators in South Africa enthused by Champagnat’s Charism

31/07/2008: South Africa

The fifth Sharing Our Call workshop South African Marist educators took place at the Good Shepherd Centre on April. Forty-three participants came from the five Marist Schools in South Africa. The animation team included Adrienne Egbers (member of the Marist Schools Council), Brother Joe Walton (Councillor for South Africa and Vice-Provincial of the Southern African Marist Province), and Neil Mitchell (Marist educator currently working for the Diocesan Catholic Schools Office for Johannesburg-Pretoria) led by Brother Mario Colussi and Mike Greeff (Head of St David’s Marist College, Inanda, Johannesburg).

Opening prayers and ice-breakers were followed by presentations dealing with vocation beginning with a personal reflection on one’s own life’s journey, followed by reflections on the vocation of Marcellin Champagnat and the Blessed Virgin.

The presentations on the five key aspects of Marist education selected by the authors of In the Footsteps of Champagnat – Presence, Simplicity, Family Spirit, Passion for Work and In the Way of Mary – were allocated to one school each. In the last part of the presentation on Mary, the Rosary was explained and each school was given materials to make an extra-large sized rosary for the school. One teacher with a Calvinist church background that she had had no idea what a rosary was for but that she would get one for herself after the workshop. The same presentation included a professional produced video on the new Chapel of Mary at the school including comments from both primary and high school learners on the meaning of Mary for them. Another presentation highlighted the care and attention being given to a particular learner with special needs.

Adrienne Egbers spoke on last year’s Marist Mission colloquium in Mendes (Brazil) which she attended as an official delegate of the Marist Province.

On the last morning, Mike Greeff spoke freely and feelingly on the impact of the Marist Pilgrimage to Rome and Champagnat Country that he took part in last year. Then Neil Mitchell gave a presentation on the vision of the human person underlying the ministry of Catholic education and outlined the overall situation of Catholic schools today.

The conclusion included an overview and synthesis followed by a time of evaluation and a final commissioning ceremony in which Father Chaka anointed the two Brothers for their mission and they, in turn, anointed each of the other participants.

The overwhelming reaction to the three-day event was very positive. One long-serving teacher remarked that it provided her with the deepest enrichment and understanding of her entire career in education.

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