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The contribution made by the Marist Brothers over the past 125 years

17/08/2012: Ireland

On Monday, 28th May a statue was unveiled in Athlone, Ireland, to commemorate the contribution made by the Marist Brothers to education, culture and sport over the past 125 years. The Brothers opened a secondary school for boys in Athlone on 1st September 1884. The National School (primary School) was opened three years later. Another significant developed took place in 1940, partly due to the outbreak of World War II, when a novitiate and juniorate were established at Our Lady’s Hermitage, for the Province of Great Britain and Ireland.

The statue was erected in St. Mary’s square in Athlone, in front of the parish Church, adjacent to the Brothers’ community house, and beside the former Primary and Secondary school buildings. The Past Presidents of the Marist College Former Students Association and the Town Council financed the statue. Mr Mark Rode, originally from Brisbane in Australia, but now resident in Mayo, Ireland, is the sculptor of the work.

The sculpture consists of a Marist Brother, who points the students to a wider horizon. The younger boy in the statue symbolises the primary school and sport, while the older boy symbolises the secondary school and education. The younger boy looks up to the Brother as a model, guide and protector, while the older boy looks in a different direction, as he takes what he has learned and imagines his own future. This reminds us of the former student who said to Brother Seán Sammon that the Brothers gave him “ a window on the world.”

MaristThe Parish priest, Fr Liam, blessed the statue. Later there was a Civic reception where Mr Leo Nolan, President of the Former Students’ Association, spoke about the initiative that led to the erection of the statue. Mr Alan Shaw, the Mayor of Athlone and a former student of the Brothers, spoke about the contribution of the Brothers to the town over the past 125 years. Brother Brendan Geary, Provincial of the Province of Europe Centre West, responded on behalf of the Brothers. He said that the statue was an outstanding tribute to the work of the Brothers. He also referred to the importance of Athlone in the history of the Province as all of the Irish brothers were former students of the school and many Brothers in Ireland, Scotland and England had made their novitiate in Our Lady’s Hermitage.

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