As we begin the new academic year at Marmion Academy this August, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a few reflections on the importance of Catholic education in the missionary life of the Church. In his first Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis devotes the entirety of his first chapter to the missionary work of the Church. He begins by saying: “Evangelization takes place in obedience to the missionary mandate of Jesus: ‘ Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.’ (Mt. 28:19-20) In these verses we see how the risen Christ sent his followers to preach the Gospel in every time and place, so that faith in him might spread to every corner of the earth.” (The Joy of the Gospel, 19)
The intention and we could say, the dream of Jesus was for his followers to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples throughout the centuries. Pope Francis, in accord with Jesus’ intention, says: “I dream of a ‘missionary option,’ that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world….” (The Joy of the Gospel, 27)
Within this context of the mission of the proclamation of the Gospel, Pope Francis later affirms the centuries-old tradition of Catholic education as a principal way of evangelizing society. “Catholic schools, which always strive to join their work of education with the explicit proclamation of the Gospel, are a most valuable resource for the evangelization of culture….” (The Joy of the Gospel, 134)
This “missionary dream” is in reality the basis for Marmion Abbey’s ongoing dedication to its educational apostolates at Marmion Academy and at our Guatemala mission. The word “missionary” does not only refer to bringing the Gospel to far off lands, but also to one another right here at home. The Church’s mission is to evangelize all people of good will and everyone who will listen. Throughout the years the Benedictine monks have remained focused on the missionary work of evangelizing through their witness of common life and prayer, and through their continuing ministry of providing Catholic secondary education for young men. Through our educational work over the years thousands of young men have been prepared to be leaders as well as men of character and faith. They have made and continue to make positive contributions to their local communities, to our country, to our Church and to the world.
Speaking of the value of a Catholic education as an essential part of the Church’s missionary outreach, I would like to share with you the following quote from a member of the Marmion class of 1964. Following his golden jubilee of graduation at our annual Marmion reunion this past June 7, he wrote: “Much has changed at Marmion but much more is still the same. I feel the spirit and the values of what Marmion was all about in '64 is still there today. Yes, Marmion has evolved, as it should and needs to do, but it seems to have kept its eye on the ball and that ball is still relevant and needed in today's world.”
Thank you for your continued prayers, friendship and support for Marmion’s mission.
God bless you!
Abbot John Brahill, O.S.B. ‘67