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Here we have a photograph of the Pilgrims who visited the Hermitage in France in April 2010 as part of our Champagnat Pilgrimage. You can see we are standing near the Gier River, not far from the front entrance to the Hermitage, sharing our Good Friday liturgy together. It was a memorable experience.

As you opened the blog this time, you may have noticed we have a new subtitle - Exploring Charism in Education. One of the delights of hosting a blog is the number of very honest conversations I have with our readers. I have been asked recently, for example, ‘What is your vision for this blog’ and ‘Who is the blog for?’ I am sure you agree these are pivotal questions!

Since first uploading this blog early in 2009, I have hoped that through it we can discuss the role charism plays in education. When Religious Congregations govern schools, it is clear the charism of the respective Founder plays a key role in setting the ways these schools will operate. We could say that charism provides the inspiration for the organisation, it gives it its life, its vitality.

The term ‘charism’ has only come to the fore since the 1960s. While it is now used in schools, it has more traditionally been associated mainly with Religious Congregations.  The Second Vatican Council implied that the health of a Congregation is measured by the extent to which it lives out its Founder’s charism.

Recently Sr Maureen Cusick was asked how to assess the health of a contemporary Religious Order of Sisters. She replied that it is ‘less to do with numbers and more to do with how deeply embedded the Sisters are in God’s word and responding to the needs of those around them’.

Charism, of course, is not restricted to Catholic organisations. Early last century, for example, Maria Montessori represented and interpreted a great social movement centred around the child. Maria saw the child as a self directed learner and founded the highly regarded Montessori School Movement. Maria’s charism may have contributed in some way to the twentieth century being called the Century of the Child.

I hope you will feel always free to offer your thoughts about our blog in the comments section.

Charism and Lay Marists

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