The Mayet Memoirs
Father Colin spoke at he College in Belley: “Gentlemen, I will tell you something of my secret, and how I go about choosing men for foreign missions, when the time comes. If I notice a certain impetuosity in those who apply, a certain over-keenness, they are not the ones I choose. If, on the other hand, I see in hem a desire that is calm and tranquil and humble, then I make my choice. And yet, if God wishes to make use of us, we must take courage, we must not be faint-healted; that is not what pleases God. The faint-hearted vill not accomplish great things for God, ‘I can do all things in Him who strengthens ne. ‘” (Phil. 4: 13)
– February 6, 1842
The fundamentals of the Society
Terraillon was one of the group of seminarians who had been in on the Marist project from the beginning. He would have known the mind of Jean-Claude Colin. Mayet took care to note that Terraillon was “one of the oldest members of the Society…. An otherwise admirable man…. An extremely virtuous man”.
But in another place he did comment that Teraillon “having been too long a parish priest, had not understood the spirit of the Society, and it was that which Father Colin found hard to put up with”.
It was precisely on the question of parishes that the dialogue took place.
The Marists had been invited to take responsibility for Valbenoite, a parish of about 5,000 people. When the topic was brought up in Council, Terraillon spoke in favour of the proposal.Hearing this, Mayet noted, Colin”stopped short, as if staggered”, then, “in a tone of indescribable authority”, he let forth a tirade against what he regarded as an attack on “the fundamentals of the Society”.
Mayet noted the key points of Colin’s tirade, adding that “I have rarely seen him so worked up”.
Once again, it is fortunate that we have Mayet’s record of the event, which touches on a fundamental feature of the Marist project.
Mayet records Colin as saying: “Gentlemen, if ever you start calling into question the fundamentals of the Society, the Society is lost! May that never happen again, never, never! If you want Marists to be parish priests, here and now I resign and I will begin again. If the Society can do good only by accepting parishes, it must come to an end, it must be wiped out, because it has no goal, no longer anything to do in the Church. There are already parish priests in the Church: that is not our mission….
Marist parish priests? Never!
Gentlemen, never let anyone speak again of parishes for Marists!” Colin’s reasons for refusing to take parishes were based primarily on the fact that what Marists are called to do involves moving from place to place.
Marists are to be an auxiliary force in the Church; they are not to be tied to a settled ministry, because then they lose the mobility and freedom that should characterise the life of a missionary congregation.
If they were not mobile, their ministry would be one of maintenance rather than mission.
It is interesting that Father Colin’s most frequent references to Mary are to Mary at Nazareth and in the early Church, the periods in her life about which least is known. I think this is because Colin did not wish to prescribe, to spell things out too much. He wanted Marists to meditate together on the mystery of Mary and to use their creativity. For him Marists are not tied to any one ministry anymore than Christ was at Nazareth.The central Marist mission does not change; the ministries through which it is carried out may. Colin wanted us to have the freedom and mobility to meet the changing needs of society, to be mobile people with little baggage.
– Frank McKay, sm
Take nothing for the journey
But there are things that will hinder us personally; not just our own personal failings, but obstacles that will attack the very heart of our common Marist vocation. Putting it bluntly, if people are not willing to live the spirit of renunciation, it will not work. Don’t be possessed by possessions, I keep telling myself.Forevenifwehave the right sentiments in our hearts, it will be ruined if our possessions reflect that we really haven’t this detachment.
It takes more ruthlessness about possessions, power and pride with oneself, than is evident to others. What I am trying to say is that there is a mystery of one’s sacrifice which is paralleled in the sacrifices Mary had to make – which few people ever appreciated.
– Andrew Gunn
Missionary Sisters’ Constitutions
Recognising that to live in another culture means both an enrichment and a sacrifice of a certain development in our own, we accept courageouly that loneliness is part of missionary life. Open to the service of the Universal Church, we will never be completely at home wherever we are.
– Constitution 39