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Animated by the Apostolic Nuncio in Greece and by three orthodox priests

 

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The educational communities of Greece celebrate Saint Marcellin Champagnat

20/06/2006: Greece

Each year since the canonisation of our holy Founder in 1999, all the members of our two educational communities in Greece have celebrated Saint Marcellin together. Each time has been an occasion to deepen either one of the aspects of his personality, of his educational project, of his spirituality, or to respond to the calls of the latest General Chapters or activities of the Champagnat Movement.

This year, with the event of fifty years of religious life of four brothers, the gathering in 2007 with the theme “ONE HEART, ONE MISSION” and the more active participation and investment of lay Marists, we wanted to highlight more particularly our common vocation, to “enlarge the tent”, to allow ourselves “to be led by the Holy Spirit”. After a symbolic presentation of the mission of brothers and laypeople, there was an ecumenical celebration animated by the Apostolic Nuncio in Greece and by three orthodox priests. Before the presentation of the parchments with the blessing of the Holy Father to the four brother jubilarians, a former student and father of two of our students gave the following testimony:

“It is difficult for me to express in a few lines, my school experience of forty-two years ago and its repercussions on my family, professional and social life following it. However, what I received from 1965 to 1976 and the people that I had contacted, continue to accompany me and send me messages. I still feel today the vibrations of the student and the adolescent who I was then .

At that time, I did not even know what the word brother meant, but I understood from the start that I would find myself close to people who paid attention to me, who protected me, who listened to me, who were interested in me and who inspired me with confidence and security. Advancing in age, I acquired the conviction that the important thing was not to be the first in class but to aspire to be among the first. Being the fist supposes sacrifices and concessions, which sometimes put true values and their proper limits in danger. Aspiring to be among the first means a continuity of efforts, means setting oneself objectives following one’s possibilities. It means working as a team and being in solidarity with others.

The presence of brothers close to us allowed us to discover our possibilities and our limits, to assume our successes and our failures and to overcome our difficulties. Quietly and discreetly the brothers moulded our childhood and adolescent souls by making us understand that each person is unique and that he can have his place in the human community and that for each one of us, there is a space to be and to act. In this school community, the brother, responsible for the yard became a short time after, the co-ordinator of all sorts of other activities, whether they be sporting, festive, cultural or recreational. From French classes, he passed on to the animation and the co-ordination of every type of school activity including the organisation of excursions. Now, as an adult, this succession of roles still inspires me and serves me as model. I understand now how wise was the choice of the three violets as the emblem of the brothers and of former students and of everything Marist. Symbolising simplicity, modesty and humility, distinctive signs of the Panaya, of family spirit, of childhood, they spread their perfume without one knowing.

With the brothers we felt that we were in a second family. We spoke about them in the plural but within ourselves resonated the singular, the familial. Without hesitation we confided to them our personal problems and our dreams as children and adolescents. And now as adults, as a father of a family, we continue to confide to them our most cherished possession, our own children.

We express to you, dear brothers, our profound gratitude. Your example and your witness which has enlightened our past, continues to enlighten our present and will continue to enlighten our future in the person of our children.”

Michel Séfériadis

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