My trip to Mexico in November for the Global Champagnat Gathering was an exceptional experience to meet with Marists from all over the world. My abiding memory will be the personal connections made and the sharing of ideas and best practices from a range of Marist contexts. The meeting did reflect on the major issues affecting our world at the moment and the responses that we as Marist educators have to implement to face the challenges that we are all experiencing.
Student engagement, climate change, migration, equality of educational opportunity, emotional wellbeing, global citizenship, our Marist identity, innovation and technology are realities we are all facing as Marist educators. Part of the reflection at our gathering was to explore our distinctive Marist response to these challenges. Marcellin Champagnat spoke of education in terms of developing students to be Good Christians and Good Citizens and we have to interpret these ideals for our time. Global Champagnat has set up an online platform called Agora to facilitate Marist schools to collaborate, explore and share their responses to the above challenges.
The method used is to provide a meeting place online to network with Marists colleagues and students throughout the Marist world. The concept of global citizenship is a further development of Marcellin’s dream that belonging to something bigger than ourselves is a common search we all aspire to as Marist family. This Global Champagnat agora platform will allow us to collaborate and build up the Marist community by sharing our resources and experiences to help all of us, fulfill our true potential as educators and students. Aisling our Marist Education Director has been working on this worldwide project with others for the past year. We had a meeting with all school principals from Ireland, Scotland and Germany in January to share with them all of the possibilities of Global Champagnat and to encourage them to get involved.
Some schools in our Province have already become involved in this new exciting project and many contacts have already been made with schools in L’Hermitage province. During my stay in Mexico we visited a number of Marist schools, had a chance to visit a number of cultural sites and experience Mexican food, music and dance. A most enjoyable experience and I must thank all involved in the organization of the Gathering for the tremendous Marist hospitality.
P.J. Chair of Mission Council.