Principal's Blog - 17 November 2016

13 Nov 2016

Dear members of the Marcellin College Family,

Last week our College came together to mark Remembrance Day. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to speak with the boys about my thoughts on this significant day:

"Today at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month we remember the moment 98 years ago when the guns fell silent to end World War One, The Great War, the War to end all wars.  But we know that the guns don’t remain silent for long and peace can be as temporary and as fragile as a snow flake on a hot day.

On this day we remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country so that we may live in peace. It is a day too when we remember the impact of war on the people who live through it. We remember the soldiers who return home often a shell of their former selves with deep psychological scars which can often take much longer to heal than the physical ones. We also remember the countless innocent civilians caught up in the midst of war. People whose experience of life is characterized by violence, oppression, displacement, pain and death.

I think we all know to a degree what peace is. We live it every day in this country, even though perhaps we take it for granted. But what does it look like when there isn’t peace?

I have spoken before about the Young University Students I met in Bethlehem. They know war as well as we know peace. They live in an environment which lacks freedom. Freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom from fear. Some of these young people have never seen the ocean. Most of them simply do not understand what it is like to live in a place where freedom of movement, association, opportunity and where people have opportunities to make their way in the world without restriction is the norm.

Then there are the Blue Marists in Aleppo. These courageous, faith filled people filled with the spirit of Champagnat venture out every day into the most dangerous place on earth to tend to the people of this community. In a recent article published in the weekly Marist News one of the Blue Marists speaks of the everyday horrors, deprivation, violence and oppression suffered by the people of Aleppo. The following is a small section of the article.

He speaks of a young boy that the blue Marists support who lives in the middle of the war zone…

...frequently so dirty that his hair looks brown. When he bathed in our house, he would get back his natural blonde colour. A month ago, “1070” (an area in Aleppo) was invaded by the rebels and, for the third time, the H.R. family had to leave to find refuge with one of the married daughters. Later they found refuge on the fifth floor of a half destroyed building in the roundabout of Chihane. When we went to visit them at their house, we were surprised to see that part of the walls were covered with unfixed wooden planks that could fall into the void by simply pushing them by hand. These are some examples of the suffering and misery of a few thousand families that we deal with and that we help to survive.

They continue to bring wounded civilians to the hospital in the shelling of mortars that fall in the civil districts of the western part of Aleppo, launched by the “good moderate rebels.”

Today it was the turn of the entire Ghazal family: A Mortar round hit the building they were sheltering in, the father died on the spot, his daughters were seriously injured, the youngest, aged 20, died after having been operated on urgently and the oldest is still in intensive care with a severe prognosis. His brother had died a month ago when he was hit by a sniper.

This is what things look like when there is no peace.

As we await the coming of Jesus the Prince of Peace at Christmas let us remember those in the world who do not know peace. Let us lend our support, our voice and our prayer to peace.

In a sign of solidarity with Muslim families in Aleppo under the care of the Blue Marists I leave you with this traditional Muslim prayer:

Send your peace, O Lord, which is perfect and everlasting,
that our souls may radiate peace.
Send your peace, O Lord, that we may think, act,
and speak harmoniously.
Send your peace, O Lord, that we may be contented
and thankful for your bountiful gifts.
Send your peace, O Lord, that amidst our worldly strife
we may enjoy your bliss.
Send your peace, O Lord, that we may endure all,
tolerate all in the thought of your grace and mercy.
Send your peace, O Lord, that our lives may become a
divine vision, and in your light all darkness may vanish.
Send your peace, O Lord, our Father and Mother, that we
your children on earth may all unite in one family.
- Sufi Prayer"

Mark Murphy