From the evening of 9 March until lunchtime on 11 March, 75 members of Maristes en éducation gathered at La Neylière for the annual meeting organised by the CAME (the association's organising council), the theme of which, in this year of the Bicentenary of the "Fourvière Pledge", was : "Taking a risk with the promise in education".
They were joined by the Provincial, Fr Bonnet-Eymard, the délégué de tutelle, Bruno Chanel, and the provincial education deputy, Donald Lillistone.
The Maristes en éducation, having received the mission to bear, in the name of the Church, the Marist spirit within the educational communities of the French schools' network, also held its General Assembly. During the Mass that followed the General Assembly, the members renewed their commitment (their promise) to promote Marist identity within the Marist schools in France.
Our speaker, Pierre Benoit, a member of The Work of Mary (Focolare movement), a languages teacher, who co-founded with his students the association Fratern'Aide, which aims to promote solidarity among young people, and about which he has written a book, gave us a fascinating talk on the theme "Taking a risk with the promise in education". He analysed the key-words in the text of the Fourvière Pledge in order to help us to rediscover its educational lifeblood and the relevance for today of its challenges within the context of five characteristic key-words relating to educating/teaching (Translation note: French is, of course, a Latin language, whereas English is a Germanic language - the French is retained with an English translation, where the Latin/Germanic link is not straightforward):
1) Intelligence - intus-legere
Inter = between, inbetween, among - the idea of a link, of a relation
+ legare =
- send with a mission (= to link, like the legate: linked to the pope, and linked to the person to whom one is sent). Two notions: that of a link, of an (educational) relationship and that of the (educational) mission and duty.
- léguer (bequeath) - the idea of a gift
Intus = within, inside, the idea of interiority
+ legere =
- recueillir (collect, gather) - the idea of recollection
- parcourir (travel) - the idea of setting off (link with the founder)
- côtoyer (meet, mix with, run alongside) - the idea of taking a risk with bounderies, with research
- choisir (choose) - the idea of the exercise of one's will, and, therefore, of freedom
- lire (read), recueillir par les oreilles (listen) - the idea of looking at the inside [intus] in order to be able to interpret (understanding-appropriation) and to communicate (giving, transmitting).
2) The essence of Man : Love-Knowledge
"Man is an individual who holds himself in check through intelligence and strength of will; he does not exist merely physically, he has within him (intus) a richer and more elevated (Cf élève - pupil), existence, he spiritually transcends existence in knowledge and love..." J.Maritain, The rights of man and the natural law.
3) Pupil, Disciple, Authority
A pupil is a person to be helped to grow in humanity as in number 2 above. An elevated idea of Man implies an elevated idea of pupils and therefore an elevated pedagogical and educational aim. Moreover, discipulus also means help: the idea, therefore, that the educator receives from the learner. Together they become actors in the etymological sense of auctoritas which, coming from augere (to augment), brings us back to the idea of elevation (Cf French élève - pupil), of growth in being, knowledge and love.
4) Co-naître - Connaître - Con-naître
A tour de force of etymology here, showing how, in French, the verb "to know" (connaître) can be linked with the idea of birth (from the verb naître) and being (from the verb être, which sounds the same as the ending of the verb connaître) + the idea of together from "co" and "con", hence learning to be, learning to know, and learning to live together.
- Educare = to raise, nourish, take care of
-Educere = to lead out, bring out
The presentation was followed by workshops that enabled the participants to build on what they had heard.
Following its significant building work, everyone was able to rediscover La Neylière, thanks to the community of Marist Fathers and lay people who run it. This work has improved the reception and living spaces for visitors. The participants were able to benefit from the redesign of the learning materials/spaces that help visitors to understand better the history of the Congregation and of the Marist missions from a sociological and cultural point of view as well as from the point of view of the preaching of the Gospel in France and in Oceania.
Conviviality and the joy of being together were the hallmarks of this session at which everyone was able to recognise the contribution that Marie-Annick Benoit has made to the life of the Association as she prepares for a retirement that will not prevent her from remaining active within the network.
Marie Portelli - Moderator of Maristes en éducation