Pope Francis has reminded Marist Brothers of their motto: ‘All to Jesus through Mary, all to Mary for Jesus.’
The Argentine Pontiff did so in his letter to the Superior General of the congregation, which is celebrating the bicentenary of the congregation’s foundation. While dated April 10, 2017, the letter was released by the Vatican this morning.
In the letter, Francis applauded their contribution as educators, reminding them education is something which must come from the heart.
He also invited them to trust Mary and to let themselves be guided by her in her humility and service, in her promptness and silent dedication.
“They are attitudes that the good religious and educator must transmit with his example. Young people will recognize in your way of being and acting that there is something extraordinary, and they will understand that it is worthwhile not only to learn these values but, especially, to interiorize and imitate them.”
Pope Francis concluded, reminding them that Mary will continue accompanying them in this endeavor.
The Marists, founded in France by Marcellin Champagnat (1789-1840), are today more than 3,500 brothers, in 81 countries on five continents. Their schools and educational facilities benefit more than 754,000 children and young people.
Below is a Zenit translation of Pope Francis’ letter:
* * *
The Holy Father’s Message
To Brother Emili Turu Rofes
Superior General of the Marist Brothers
I am pleased to greet you and, through you, the whole Marist Family, on the occasion of the bicentenary of the Congregation’s foundation, during which you will hold the 22nd General Chapter, which will take place in Colombia. You have wished to prepare this anniversary under the motto “A New Beginning,” in which a whole program of renewal is summarized, which implies looking at the past with gratitude, discerning the present and opening with hope to the future.
Gratitude is the first sentiment that springs from the heart. This attitude of gratitude is needed to appreciate the great works God has accomplished through you. In fact, it does us good to give thanks; it helps us to see ourselves as little before the Lord’s eyes and debtors of a tradition that has been given to us, without us, on our part, having done anything. You belong to a great Family, rich in witnesses who were able to give their lives out of love of God and neighbor with that spirit of brotherhood, which characterizes the Congregation and which makes the other a “very dear brother to me” (Flm 16). These two centuries of existence have been transformed in turn into a great history of dedication in favor of children and youths, which you have received along the length and breadth of five Continents and formed them to be good citizens and, above all, good Christians. These good works are an expression of the goodness and mercy of God who, despite our limitations and clumsiness, never forgets His children.
However, it is not enough to contemplate the past, but it is necessary to carry out a discernment of the present moment. It is right that you examine yourselves and it is good that you do so in the light of the Spirit. To discern is to acknowledge with objectivity and charity the present state, comparing it with the foundational spirit. Saint Marcelino Champagnat was an innovator for his time in the realm of education and formation. He himself experienced the need of love to be able to draw out the potentialities that each boy bears hidden in himself. Your Holy Founder said: “Education is for the child what cultivation is for the field. No matter how good the latter is, if it is not ploughed, it produces only brambles and weeds. “ The task of the educator is of constant dedication and has a charge of sacrifice; however, education is something from the heart, this makes it different and sublime. To be called to cultivate exacts first of all to cultivate yourselves. The Religious-educator must look after his interior field, his human and spiritual reserves, to be able to go out and sow and take care of the terrain that has been entrusted to him. You must be aware that the terrain you work and mould is “sacred,” seeing in it God’s love and imprint. With this dedication and effort, faithful to the mission received, you will contribute to the work of God, who calls you to be simple instruments in His hands.
Finally, I encourage you to open yourselves with hope to the future, walking with a renewed spirit; it is not a different route, but vivified in the Spirit. Today’s society needs persons solid in their principles, who can build a better world for all and give witness of what they believe. The motto of your religious institute is already a life project: “All to Jesus through Mary, all to Mary for Jesus.” It is to trust Mary and to let oneself be guided by her in her humility and service, in her promptness and silent dedication; they are attitudes that the good religious and educator must transmit with his example. Young people will recognize in your way of being and acting that there is something extraordinary, and they will understand that it is worthwhile not only to learn these values but, especially, to interiorize and imitate them. Mary will accompany you in this endeavor and, together with her, you will ratify your vocation, contributing to create a new humanity, where the vulnerable and rejected are valued and loved. This future that you desire and about which you dream is not an illusion, but it is built beginning today, by saying “yes” to the will of God in the certainty that He, as good Father, will not defraud our hope.
I thank the Lord and Mary, Our Good Mother – as Saint Marcelino liked to call her –, for the presence in the Church of your vocation and service, and I ask for you the gift of the Holy Spirit so that, moved by Him, you take to children and young people, as well as to all the needy, the closeness and tenderness of God.
Vatican, April 10, 2017
[Original text: Spanish] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]