Our Provincial, Fr David Kennerley SM, gave an inspirational address to the gathering on why it was significant for us to celebrate the Pledge of Fourviere. Unaware that it was already printed on the T-shirts we had designed, he chose the quotation from the Pledge: “We do this, not in the fervour of youth, not lightly, nor for some purely human ambition, nor for the hope of material gain.” He asked the students “Why? Why did this group of young men come all the way from the other side of the world to do what they did? What drove them.....indeed who drove them?”
He spoke passionately of how each of these men, called specifically and uniquely by Mary, the Mother of God, not only to be Marists, but to be Marist missionaries, spent themselves in the service of those to whom they ministered. He described the missionary journeys of Fr Baty and Fr Reignier into Te Urewera, both there at the same time and from different directions, unbeknown to each other, and how in one place there was a church already built, waiting for them, because the local people “were expecting” them.
Fr David challenged the young people to understand and accept their place in the Church, to listen to how God, and indeed Mary, may well be calling them as they called the early Marists, and to apply to their own lives the pledge to do something: