2016 National Faith Formators' Conference
Growing a Contemplative Culture in a Marist School
In every religious quest for God there is a contemplative strand. Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane introduced the importance of prayer and contemplation to the delegates at the Marist National Faith Formators’ Conference held at Marist Centre Brisbane and Marist College Ashgrove. The theme of this gathering was “Growing a Contemplative Culture in a Marist School: Praying as Marists”.
Archbishop Coleridge emphasised the vision of schools being places of prayer. Students have the right to know God, not just to know about God. This journey is one where paradox may be embraced, where poetic imagination leads to a connectedness with God. Contemplation is an element of this journey where we may be led to experience God in ‘the thin silence’, the experience of Elijah (1 Kings 19: 12).
The Executive Director of Marist Ministries and National Director of Marist Schools Australia, Brother Michael Green, spoke of the challenge of developing a culture of contemplation in schools and bringing the young to know God. Prayer in the Marist tradition is simple, arising from ‘the all around.’ Marists aim to cultivate hearts that are listening, open, discerning and trusting.
Dr Maeve Louise Heaney VDMF facilitated the process for the faith leaders. Praying as Marists is part of our Catholic identity, an identity that is universal and particular. A contemplative life is a way to lead staff and students to speak of and with God. Without this identity our faith will dwindle. With reference to the Marist commissioned icon of The Ascension, Dr Heaney briefly noted the returning emphasis on Ascension Theology in the Church, where in the resurrected and ascended Jesus our humanity is viewed in Him, the first born of creation and the first born from the dead.
Experiences of finding God in liturgy and music were explored. Faith leaders imagine and create nurturing ways and means to bring forth a contemplative culture. God’s Word continues to seek incarnation and as Mary continues to give birth to Jesus so Marists seek to be part of this Marial process.
See more photos here: 2016 National Faith Formators' Conference Photos