PrOVLnce Lea t
he Province Leader of Holy Spirit Province of the Christian brothers (SA and WA), Br. Tony Shanahan, is currently on an extended break from the frantic pace of his role. That is why this brief message is coming to you from me, as the Acting Province Leader. Last year, Tony wrote to Christian Brothers school communities in a way that challenged all of us to reflect again on the Catholicity of our schools and how this is being expressed. I intend to pick up that theme again in 2000, from a slightly different perspective. Those of us involved, even indirectly, in education over the last few years will know the term "Curriculum Framework" and an associated term, "Educational Outcomes". One recent, and for me at least, understandable definition of outcomes that I read last month in a West Australian Catholic Education Circular, is as follows; "The outcomes describe what students should know, understand, value and be able to do as a result of schooling." I will return to this issue of outcomes for a Catholic School in the Edmund Rice or Christian Brother tradition . I am sure that you are aware that the Olympic Games were held in Australia earlier this year. I read with interest an article written by Shane Gould about the Olympics . For those of a generation younger than me, Shane Gould had a brief but brilliant career as an Australian
In the article that caught my attention, Shane wrote about how the media attempts to create "stars" and "champions". I do not want to repeat all her thoughts here, but I do wish to quote at length from what she wrote about people who she believes are real champions:
first aspect relates to Justice. I hope that our "champions" will be able to look at situations in their families , in their friendship group, in school and in society and to see and judge if those situations are just or unjust. The criteria for making that decision will be the Gospel of Jesus - the story of love and justice itself. The "champions" will have the motivation and skills to do something about the immediate situation, and also to understand what might be the causes . They will join the struggle in our society to address the causes.
"Champions need to add value to people's live to maintain their champion title.
The second aspect relates to the Eucharist.
To be a champion , they have to live in such a way that others have a better life. A champion 's acts and deeds have to cause change in the way others think and act. They then become leaders, and remain gifted , sharing their wisdom and understanding from their experience." (Shane Gould in the Weekend Australian , September 16-17, 2000 , Pg . 18) Those of us in the role of Trustees of the Christian Brothers' Schools in South Australia and WestAustralia, would hope that our schools produce men and women who are "champions" in the way in which Shane Gould speaks of champions. That would be a great educational outcome.
As we are Catholic Schools, we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about the Eucharist (or Mass) which celebrates the despair, loneliness, suffering and death in Jesus' life, as well as his glorious coming to new life. Both of these aspects are in the life of every champion - we only need to look at a few Olympic events to observe that. Part of being a champion is knowing how to handle the agony, as well as the glory. It will be good for our "champions" to know about and participate in celebrations of the Eucharist so that they can bring their life struggles as well as successes to God in an extraordinary way - a sacramental way.
I will apply this to two key aspects of our Vision document, "Christian Brothers' Schools : A Vision for the Future". The
Drawing the issue of striving for Justice and the Eucharist together will be a great step towards creating "champions" in the
swimmer in the 1970's, and then disappeared from public view for over 20 years. She has recently returned to write and speak in the media and, among other things, to swim on the "masters circuit" .
Edmund Rice tradition. What Shane Gould says of a champion, hopefully, we can say of every student leaving our schools, "The (champions) are the ones who cause you to change the way you think and act". The person who will help them to do that, is the person of Jesus Christ - the Jesus Christ they will meet as they struggle to make unjust situations just again, and the same one they will meet in the Eucharist. Br. Kevin P. Ryan, cfc Acting Province Leader Christian Brothers (WAlSA) 7