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Student Youth Ministers’ Formation at the Marist School in Lisbon

10/03/2008: Portugal

Across the Marist world, from October 7, 2007 to October 12, 2008, we are celebrating a year dedicated to “Marist Spirituality”. Given the importance and meaning of this celebration, the Pastoral Ministry Team of the Marist school in Lisbon organized a formation day for the student youth minis-ters of their school. This formation was a follow-up to the presentation which Brother Teofilo made to the teachers of the school last September. The more recent formation activity took place over a February weekend.

The formation activity was based upon reflections drawn from the symbols present in the book Water from the Rock: water, fire, the table, the rock and the way. When we speak of these five symbols, it seems at first glance that we are in Geolo-gy or Biology class. As a matter of fact, these symbols were proposed to the part-icipants as reference points for attitudes to be developed in living our life in a Marist style.
Therefore, the students were challenged to have a look to these symbols and to relate them to their lives. How and in which way could these symbols serve their life and the life of others? Can we be, through them, people who welcome life? Will the symbols reveal, as does every symbol, elements which promote and defend life?

In that sense, as Marists, the students reached simple conclusions, but ones of great and vital depth. The symbols, in fact, spoke to them, pointing out orientations which can direct their lives:
• We should try to drink deeply from the streams of Living Water that spring from Jesus Christ and from his Gospel, so that we become rivers of living water for others;
• We should be heralds of the Good News. Fire is the inspiring ele-ment of the Marist mission. The Good News springing from the Gospel rekindles the fire that we want to share with all, above all with those who do not yet know the Good News and its Author. Fire reveals the apostolic and missionary dimension of Marist people.
• As brothers and sisters in Christ, we have a Table around which we can share. We all are invited to build communion. Jesus Christ made this invitation to his disci-ples at the Last Supper and he continues today to repeat it at each of our Eucharists. For Marcellin’s community, La Vallas table represents a powerful symbol of family and of service.
• We walk in faith. Faith is our Way. Life is a mystery which reveals itself little by little. We walk and we found beauty and disenchant-ment, certainty and doubts, happi-ness and anguish; however… we walk. And in faith we also know that Christ is our Way. Marist life cannot be lived out fully apart from this Way.
• The Rock is an image of certainty, of the foundations of what we have already travelled and of what remains to be travelled. Where are we to go? To whom do we belong? To whom are we responsible? Such human questions will be asked in a more peaceful frame of mind if we have truly committed ourselves to giving part of our time to the search for a true sense of life. We will find this sense in God, the safe and strong rock on whom we can trust.

This formation presented to the youth ministers is a step forward in their Christian life. They came to know that, in their life, Marist Spirituality and its asso-ciated symbols constitute valuable elements through which they may become not only more Marist, but also more Christian.

Marist Spirituality is one of so many within Christian Spirituality. The students have discovered that the five proposed symbols are not just Marist symbols. They are evangelical symbols and therefore proposed to all Christians. In its tradition, Marist Spirituality simply actualizes in a certain manner (the Marist way) symbols which in fact belong to the Christian and ecclesial tradition. In the Marist way of living Spirituality, we cannot forget Mary. For Champagnat, she was the one who does everything for us. Mary herself lived and gave strength to each of those five symbols.
Eurico Santos
Director of Pastoral Ministry, Externato Marista of Lisbon.

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