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Marist Bulletin - Number 289


Who is the most important? - Marist Blog – Br. César Henríquez

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Today we gather here three reflections from Brother César henríquez of the Bureau of International Solidarity (BIS). In sending these texts we are trying to animate you to join the reflexion by sending your comments through our web page.

Posted on 16/03/2007

Article 12 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child establishes a right which is at the same time one of the Four General Principles which help with the interpretation of the Convention in its whole and orients its application. The article proclaims the right “to express one’s opinion freely in all the affairs that affect the child, by duly taking into consideration the opinions of the child, according to the age and the maturity of the child”.
This subject has finally come back to my mind after being with me for several months, because a few days ago I found the words to a song by Javier Alvarez (we are the Age of the Future): “They tell us that we are always the age of the future, / they tell us how to be born, how to live / they tell us what norms we must fulfil without wanting to / they tell us all because it is necessary to know how to choose.” For several years, I have noted that making proposals is not one of the strongest characteristics of adolescents. Isn’t that because we have got them used to others making decisions for them, that they are given things already done? Many young people show their indifference for groups and associations: to what does this fact respond? It would be very simplistic to say that “the young people are losing interest”; and we should wonder if we are not faced with a more vast and complex situation.
Even in these reflections, I have not found here a response or a comment for an adolescent… or a boy or a girl… I tell myself that they are not addressed to them (including this one). Does the same thing happen in our Marist works? What spaces do children and young people have for judging? And if they have some spaces for judging, how do they take their opinions into account? Do we dialogue with them? Do the boys, girls and young people in our Marist works feel listened to and taken into consideration?
Being a teacher, in youth ministry or as a counsellor, I have tried to be a “companion on the way” instead of a “dictator”… but I cannot recall exactly if on some occasion I asked them how they interpreted my interventions. Because by experience I know that what we say and what others understand is not always the same thing.
We are preparing ourselves for a Marist International Mission Assembly. The voices, the concerns, the interest of the boys, girls and young people of our Marist works, of those whom we do not meet… will they be present in the hearts and minds of those who will participate in the Assembly? Attentiveness, Welcome, Acceptance and Unconditional Love, such characteristics of Marist Pedagogy: do they have concrete ways of being shown (and are they noted and felt) in our educational and evangelising action? Do the opinions of the children and young people have any weight in our Marist works?

Violence in the schools
Posted on 14/02/2007

One of the Marist Brothers who taught me used to hit the students as a punishment. I was hit twice on the head for having talked to the person next to me in class. I have not resented the brother, but I am quite convinced that his way of doing things was not what it should have been. Physical punishment (and it still is in many places) was tolerated as a means of discipline. I do not agree. No form of violence should be recognised as a way of disciplining and raising boys and girls.
The Study on Violence against Children, which was published last year, reveals that many boys and girls are victims of violence in schools by the adults who have to supervise them or by their own fellow students. The news that reaches us by different means, reporting facts of violence against children in the school setting, is not rare.
Violence is a daily occurrence: armed conflict, insecurity of citizens, gangs, delinquency, abuse… Why violence? What is its origin? To deepen the subject of violence and its causes goes beyond the scope of this short reflection. It interests me to highlight the contribution that we are called to give, as a Marist family, to combat every type of violence, and in particular, the violence against boys and girls.
The story of Marcellin is familiar to us. He refused to return to school when he saw the teacher hit one of his friends. And during later years with the foundation of the brothers, he forbade them to apply physical punishments to the students. Being a teacher in Marist schools, I could verify that the family atmosphere, the formation in values and the presence of teachers who are examples for their students, are sufficient elements to promote a school without violence and to help the students and young people face up to difficulties in a creative way, without using violence. Marcellin’s way of warning someone that he had committed a fault has helped me a lot. “The first time, I give a warning; the second, you owe me; the third, you pay.” Sometimes I needed to make someone “pay”. And when I had to do so, afterwards I spoke to him and was on good terms with the student… without having to use violence at all.
I wonder if as Marists we make enough effort, not only to eradicate violence from our schools, but to encourage young people to take a position against violence and to be promoters of peace and of constructive dialogue in our societies. What do you think about this?

A voice for the children
Posted on 26/01/2007

A voice is needed that gives confidence to calm a young person worried about problems at home, a friendly voice that can encourage the dreams of an adolescent, a cheerful voice that invites you to free time and rest, a strong voice that encourages young people in the difficult journey of growth.
A serene voice is needed that gives peace to a young person in a half-way house who is struggling to overcome his dependency on drugs; a calm voice that shares the confidences of a child who has been freed from a house of prostitution; a voice that sings the lullabies that have not been heard by those abandoned at birth, or those who have been stolen so as to be sold in adoption. A voice that accompanies the laughter of children who have never played and that arouse a smile on the faces tense with sadness, of these faces used to hard work under the sun. A voice that gives warmth to children who live on the street and one that gives confidence to those imprisoned.
A voice that invites the children who participate in armed conflicts to surrender, one that accompanies the children, boys and girls, who have to emigrate, leaving behind them a family, friends and their country; that gives a taste of a home to children who belong nowhere. A voice is needed that encourages children who have heard humiliations all their life, that arouses dreams among those who have not had the occasion to dream, that consoles children, boys and girls who have been hit. A voice that asks for the advice of children who have never been taken notice of.
A voice is needed that shows God, that is the presence of God with the accent more than with words. That speaks of God without imposing him. A voice that evokes the tenderness of Mary and that echoing the voice of Jesus offers new horizons of life and hope.
And may this voice be heard, and may it cry to the world of the hopes, dreams and needs of children, boys and girls. A voice that speaks to those to whom no-one speaks, the ignored, the hidden, the forgotten. This voice is needed that worries and questions the world. A voice that speaks of what it knows, of its love for children, boys and girls, and of its commitment and its passion for the mission of Jesus. It is a voice that will not speak alone: many other voices will join it for all to be heard for the children, boys and girls, of the world.
This voice: perhaps it is yours?

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