17 February 2015

Report of the meeting at Niederalteich

This meeting entitled, “The Marist School – Where to Now?” was held at the Benedictine formation house at Niederalteich, Bavaria, on 30th – 31st January for the teachers at the former Marist run schools of Cham, Furth and Mindelheim.

Twenty-two teachers were present among whom were some who never before had attended a Marist event. Also present was the caretaker of the school in Cham, the administrator of the Brothers and two Brothers themselves, Augustin Hendlmeier and Winfried Schreieck.

The participants travelled on the Friday afternoon, settled into their rooms and then had an evening meal in the well-appointed Benedictine guesthouse before Hans Staudner opened the meeting with introductions of the participants.

After evening prayer at which we remembered the forthcoming world trip of Brother Michael Schmalzl, the rest of the evening passed sociably.

On the Saturday morning some of the participants took the opportunity to attend the conventual Byzantine Latin Liturgy.

On the opening morning session the symbol of the Tent stood in a prominent position (see the letter of Brother Emili). This was followed by a talk from Brother Augustin in which he gave us an insight into the History of Marist pedagogy based on his own studies. In the course of this he placed Champagnat within his historical setting as the basis for demonstrating his significant contribution to educational thinking. He stressed the values of equality, self-reliance, disciplined lifestyle and family spirit, and linked them with the challenges we face today. To help the participants in their group work there was a hand-out, “Principles of Marist Pedagogy” originating in the Marist College of Costa Rica.

After the interval Hans Staudner, with enthusiasm and great conviction, delivered a paper on what makes a school a Catholic and Marist school. In this he went through the foundational principles of the Christian life, Koinonia (community), Liturgia (celebration), Martyria (witness) and Caritas (charity).

The participants were sent off to the lunch break at the end of a comprehensive paper which included the particular Marist values of Family Spirit, Presence, Simplicity, Love of Work, In the Way of Mary, with appropriate quotes and stimulus questions for reflection.

In two discussion groups the participants exchanged their ideas.

In group work, posters marking the Marist “virtues” were created. The so-called “Guardamar Paper” (a visual synopsis by Gottfried Wesseli of the work and projects in Marist schools) was incorporated into this.

When feedback from the group work was over, the content part of the weekend was brought to a close with an excellently constructed prayer in which each participant took a candle and all the candles were then passed round accompanied by silent prayer of blessing.

After the evening meal the participants returned home full of Marist energy and grateful for a well prepared formation weekend and one generously supported by the Marist Institute.

Bärbel Audebert


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