Late March this year saw the first official meeting of the Young Marist Alumni --- a group made up of young professionals who have served in the past as leaders on the Young Marists Team. The meeting was much anticipated, over a year in the making, and drew together a network of young adults who have had significant involvement with the lay leadership of the Young Marists since its inception in 2007.
The sense of anticipation came from many sources --- the sheer joy of being together again with people who, in the not too distant past, had shared so much, the rekindling of relationships that might, in the past, have been leader to student and student to leader, and the burning desire to keep involved in something so vibrant, so hope-filled, so important to our on-going definition of who we are. We still try to make “Marist” our way of living the gospel.
Such was the range of years of service to Young Marists that some met each other for the first time, but for most the memories of working together, the shared weeks on Marist Youth Leader, the hours on the road and sleeping rough on Young Marist Neighbours, the recalling of those “moments” when we knew to stand back because the Spirit had taken over, these were the reminiscences long into the night.
Our burning question was “How do we still belong and contribute to Young Marists?” We are lawyers and nurses, doctors and accountants, marketers and architects, Government Ministry analysts and policy writers, but the passions that were formed in our years on the leadership team have not faded away. The keys to leadership like being principle-centred, having courage, persevering, succeeding through failure, being servants first in the manner of Jesus and his Mother, Mary, still rule in our lives. The seeing, judging, acting of social justice, the practice of compassion, solidarity with those who struggle --- we want these to continue as the inspiration in how we live each day.
Some of our number have initiated a secular charitable trust called the Young Neighbours Trust. It will provide opportunties for young people from our partner communities, those we visit on Young Marist Neighbours, to go to boarding school, and, we hope, on to university. It will also enable a Mission Year experience for school leavers and young professionals, volunteering in a variety of ways in our partner communities.
The Young Neighbours Trust will be the immediate focus of our continued involvement as young professionals. Our promotion of the trust will enhance the work done by the Young Marists, as well as give us a focus for maintaining and growing the passion we have to be servant-leaders in our world.