From the first days of the Society of Mary, Marists have been involved in ministries with young people. The Constitutions say that Marists devote themselves to all forms of education especially among the young. They recognise that their own education constitutes a richness that can be placed at the service of others.
Marist missionaries have worked around the world establishing the church where it does not exist, and renewing existing communities. Establishing schools has been part of that work. The Marist Brothers, our cousins, are much better known for their work in Schools and the name of Marcellin Champagnat (a Marist priest who founded the Brothers) is almost synonymous with Catholic education worldwide.
In more recent years ministry with and for young people has taken on new and different forms. The Catholic School system in New Zealand is now primarily in the hands of expert teachers who focus on developing the young person’s talents in a Catholic Ethos. And yet today the Marist Charism is even better known and better loved in the schools where the Society of Mary began the work.
Father Colin’s gentle philosophy of education, emphasising an even-handed, and fair approach for all builds on the Marist Characteristics of Mercy and Compassion. It is always Marist to accept the young person as a gift from God and to spend time alongside them, encouraging and mentoring as they grow in wisdom and confidence.
Today Marists find themselves in a very different world with different challenges. Whereas the 19th and 20th Centuries saw the establishing of the Church in Oceania, today Marists are called to be present to young people in new and very different circumstances. Young people look for compassion and mercy but they often think of churches and religion as judgemental and negative. They look for genuine answers that fit today’s questions. Marists working in Education and Youth Ministry take their Marist gifts into quite a different, post-modern world. Young people want to discover the gospel and experience their own faith calling them forward with gentle mentors who walk alongside them.
Taking their lead from the gentle way that Mary cared for her own Son, Marists look for ways of allowing the God-given talents of young people to be expressed, to grow and to become strong.
In many ministries today we work alongside young people who minister with us. Through our partnership with the National Network of Marist Schools, we continue to support Catholic Schools, especially those that the Society of Mary began in New Zealand.
Through his In Every Way organisation, Fr Mark Walls provides programmes and courses such as Marist Youth Leader for the young and those who work with them in schools. Fr Walls also helps to support the special character of Catholic Secondary Schools, particularly those with the Marist Charism.
In Auckland the Logos Project contracts to the Diocese of Auckland to provide youth ministry in schools and parishes across the diocese and a team of young and enthusiastic youth workers work together with Marists to provide this ministry there.
In Wellington the Society of Mary also works alongside Challenge 2000, a vibrant youth and social work agency based in Johnsonville. Challenge provides a whole raft of programmes, mentoring and other opportunities for young people all over the Wellington area. With Challenge, we sponsor Youth Ministries and the Youth Community in Lyall Bay. Marists work with Challenge and and the Marist – Challenge Gap Year for young people.