Principal's Blog - 1 June 2017
Dear members of the Marcellin College Family,
There are moments in my time as Principal which are permanently etched in my memory. Last Saturday evening when we blessed and celebrated our new art installation of the "Three Violets" behind the statue of Saint Marcellin was definitely one of those. A small group of members of our Marist and broader Catholic Community gathered around the installation and witnessed a simple but beautiful blessing ceremony conducted by Monsignor Tony Ireland. Together we listened to readings, we read prayers, we watched as Monsignor Tony sprinkled holy water over the work and together in the darkness we sang Sub Tuum. A fitting way to induct a work of art whose theme and motivation is based on Humility, Modesty and Simplicity. Below I have reproduced my address from this celebration, which speaks about the importance of the three Violets for all Marists.
This evening we gather to acknowledge and celebrate our shared Marist heritage and the gift the Charism of Marcellin Champagnat has been to all those who have passed through the gates of our school. Central to an understanding of that gift are three spiritual attitudes which Saint Marcellin himself developed as part of the Marist tradition from its earliest days. According to the eminent Marist Historian Br Michael Green, these Spiritual Attitudes of Humility, Modesty and Simplicity are at the very heart of what it means to be Marist.
I believe that any attempt to tie a “spirit” down to particular qualities is doomed to failure, just as any attempt to describe a person in a few words is doomed. However, I have never been afraid of failure so I’ll give it a go.
Violets are very elusive and hidden flowers. In fact if you’re not looking for them you may never see them. As a young boy Marcellin Champagnat would not have even seen them as he raced through the undulating green fields of Southern France with all the impatience and enthusiasm of youth. He may not have had time to look at them as he strode out to make his rounds as a young assistant priest from La Valla Parish full of zeal and purpose. Perhaps though as he left the house of the Montagne family in sadness and despair, not only because of the boy’s death but in the knowledge he hadn’t had time to help the young man come to know God, with his head down cast, kicking at the dirt, that he may have spied that little flicker of purple hidden in the long green grass.
Perhaps I am taking a little bit of poetic license here, but I do believe that in our moments of greatest need the spirit can reveal to us a bit of colour which can keep us going in those darker times.
That little splash of purple has continued to inform, inspire and most of all challenge us as Marists.
How many of us can say with great certainty that we are completely honest with ourselves? How many of us can suggest that we are completely free of pretension and self-delusion. How many of us transparently lay ourselves bare allowing others to see us and know us for who we truly are? How many of us can genuinely say that we show unconditional respect and sensitivity toward others in everything we do and in everything we say? The great Australian Marist and former Superior General, Charles Howard presented these challenges to us in describing the essence of the three violets of Marist Simplicity in 1992.
Fortunately as we aspire to these things we know that we can find a perfect model of these spiritual virtues in the person of Mary who looks at us with a loving but challenging eye and asks us to reflect on our success in living up to these lofty ideals.
Every day at Marcellin we try to remind each other of our call to live the three violets. Sometimes though we forget. We need reminding. We can achieve this through word and through action; we can also do this visually.
A couple of years ago I met Cetta Pilati, a parent of Marcellin boys, on a windswept Saturday morning watching Rugby. We chatted about lots of things. When Cetta told me what she did as an artist I was very interested but uncertain as to how we could utilize her incredible gifts. Two years later we were talking about how we could commemorate the Marist Bicentenary in a real and tangible way which would educate and challenge our community to grow as Marists. Enter Cetta and our own expert in all things design and aesthetic, Adriano Di Prato.
The result is as beautiful as it is instructional, as it is spiritual. On behalf of our community I would like to personally thank Cetta for her talent, her dedication and most of all her intuitive understanding of what we were trying to capture in this project. I would also like to thank Adriano who worked closely with Cetta throughout the process and who continues to reflect on how we can to enhance the faith, learning experience of our boys in ways that inspire, motivate and capture their attention, their interest and their imagination.
Finally, I would like to thank Sian Cameron for her thoughtfulness and attention to detail in organizing this memorable and meaningful event.
“Humility is a basic element in our relationships since it has to do with clear self-understanding. It means knowing and accepting the truth about ourselves, being honest with ourselves, being free of pretension and self-delusion” Br Michael Green fms