Newsletter 7: 21 May 2019
In recent weeks, the passing of two well-known Australians featured much in the national discourse as Australians prepared for the Federal election. The passing of Les Murray, arguably Australia’s most prolific and influential poet and former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke has provided cause for reflection on their great legacy to our nation. Bob Hawke, a giant of the Labor party and Trade Union movement was lauded for his commitment to consensus during his years as Prime Minister. Murray, a convert to Catholicism, dedicated each of his books to “the glory of God” and much of his work articulated a spirituality which resonated with many. Br Peter Carroll, Provincial and Leader of the Marist Association, wrote beautifully of the legacy of Les Murray and his fellow ‘poet of the human spirit’, Jean Vanier, in the recent edition of Christ life and we commend this reflection to you.
In his book, The Quality of Sprawl (1999), Murray wrote a wonderful chapter titled, Some Religious Stuff I know about Australia. In it Murray encouraged his fellow Australian Christians to,
get on with being what our Founder told us to be, which is the salt of the earth,
the baking soda in the loaf of mankind. Salt and baking soda aren’t privileged substances,
but they’re pretty essential ones.
This encouragement has remained with me since his passing and echoed loud and clear as I queued with my neighbours on Saturday to cast my vote in the Federal election. I confess that I really enjoy the ritual of voting at the local Primary school. There is something of ‘fete-like’ atmosphere to the day and, as I lined up to discharge my democratic responsibility, I broke ranks to buy myself a sausage sizzle. I thought of the story my son told me of one of his classmates who was on a mission at the recent State and Federal elections to rate the sausage sizzles in the local area and post his opinion on the best one on social media. I was acutely aware of the range of ages, cultural backgrounds, and proponents for many causes whose opinions were emblazoned on T-shirts and caps among the queues of people. And perhaps, with just a touch of complacency when compared to other parts of the world, all of this occurs in relative peace and security across the country. It is appropriate to celebrate and remember with fondness the heroes of our nation and faith, the rituals and routines on which we base our lives and the simple joy and privilege of being a citizen of this great nation.
Such gratitude and hope are perhaps reflective of St Marcellin’s own attitude to education which inspires us:
To bring up a child involves more than teaching (them) to read and write, more than
initiating (them) into the subjects which normally make up primary instruction…. To educate
a child, therefore, is to show (them) this high and sublime destiny and to give (them) the
means to reach it; in a word, it is to form (them) into a good Christian and a virtuous citizen.
(Life, XXIII, p. 534)
Thank you for all you do to animate this vision in your school! May St Marcellin’s words echo in our ears and affirm our vision for young people in Marist schools across Australia – “Good Christians and virtuous citizens”, “salt of the earth, the baking soda in the loaf of humankind … essential” now, more then ever.
Regional Director NSW/ACT