Teachers pilgrimage to the Hermitage
It was a pleasure to be part of a pilgrimage with teachers from different parts of the Province from the 13th to the 16th March. There were eight teachers from Germany, eight from Ireland, two from Dundee in Scotland and myself and Brother John Hyland.
While all involved were aware of the story of Champagnat this provided an opportunity to get to know him at a much deeper level. Far from a story they had heard as they said themselves they got an opportunity to know him at a human and spiritual level. All were impressed with the passion of the man who saw a need and went to great lengths to address it. They became conscious of the obstacles he had to overcome to achieve his ambitions, a true example to our students of the power of resilience no matter how great the challenges they may experience. The building of the Hermitage from the rock was seen by the teachers as an extraordinary achievement and clearly displayed the work ethic of the early Brothers.
The evening we arrived we started to get to know the house and the history of the growth of the Congregation.
On the first full day we did the Champagnat Way, visited and prayed at all the significant places in the life of Marcellin. After Mass on the second day we continued our tour of the house with the visit and prayer time in Champagnat`s room which was a highlight for everyone. In the afternoon we visited Fourvière and then got some time to explore the city of Lyon.
We were impressed with the hospitality of the community at the Hermitage and nothing was impossible for them to do to make our stay a very fruitful experience. The pilgrimage also helped the group to be aware of the internationality of the Champagnat experience. It is so easy just to be aware of our own school and not to be linked to the wider Marist reality. Many of our group expressed a sense of responsibility to pass on the story and the Marist values underpinned with the deep faith of Mary. The pilgrimage was an excellent opportunity to get to know teachers from different Marist realities and to share our experience of being Marist.
This was a very helpful way for teachers from different parts of the Province to begin networking together and is something that can be built upon in the years to come.
Brother P.J. McGowan