7 November 2014

Germany


Marist Centenary in Germany 1914 – 2014

The chapel of the community in Furth was packed when, on the 11th October, the celebration of 100 years of Marist presence in Germany began. After the solemn Mass the beautiful weather allowed for a toast in the garden, which was followed by the official part of the celebration in the assembly hall with various speeches and musical intermezzos. A festive Bavarian buffet, supplemented with Bavarian beer, brought the successful jubilee celebration to an end.

What follows is an impression of the address given by Mr Ulrich Haaf, the Director of the foundation of Augsburg Diocese which has taken over some of the Marist schools in Bavaria.

Through their schools and Internats the Marists inserted themselves into the great education tradition of the Church; this happened in France at a time when, particularly in rural areas, schools were at their lowest ebb and the Christian faith in the aftermath of the French Revolution was greatly undermined. As the speaker said, the founding of schools was always possible and in Marcellin`s time 48 were founded. Furthermore, he was of the view that the religious schools live out the mission of the founder, the spirituality of the particular Institute and not least of all the charism of the Institute as such and that of each individual member.

One observation troubled Mr Haaf: All schools have to face the issue of how to realise the Catholic understanding of schooling expected of them. In that regard one possible way would be to derive the Catholic element entirely from the connection with the original Order. The celebration of the feast of the founder, a visit to the monastery, a talk from a Sister, social activity for the benefit of the Order`s missions, all taken for granted as important and helpful activities and which help to maintain a school`s tradition; the speaker added, “To think however that by doing these things we have sufficiently « realised » the Catholicity of a school, is to deceive ourselves.”

While some schools belonging to Religious Institutes found themselves single- handedly battling with the changes of the times, the Diocesan Director suggested that Diocesan schools have the advantage of collaboration. Synergy and cooperation are easier to achieve and in general the future is more secure. However, this in no way diminishes the aspirations of the individual school. A Diocesan school is not a duplicate State school but a distinctively Catholic one. All the other things a State school can do just as well and even better. “Our distinctiveness must be seen and experienced in our programmes and in our rhetoric every day and every hour. People should be able to remark knowingly of our schools, See how they love one another; how they help one another in time of need, and that they never douse the glimmering flame.”

It is the personal conviction of the Director of Schools after 20 years` experience of Catholic schools, “that our schools, whether in the management of the Religious Institutes or of the Diocese, constitute an indispensable element in the Church`s engagement in formation and education. Moreover, the State grants us in the Constitution the right to manage schools and to found new ones and grants us substantial financial support. It would be fatal not to avail of this opportunity.”

  

                Mr Ulrich Haaf

 

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