January 21 – ANNIVERSARIES OF SCHOOLS
ANNIVERSARIES OF SCHOOLS
Our Brothers working in schools are keen to celebrate their schools’ major anniversaries. We will take as examples three countries with their own customs and cultures.
In India, the celebrations are presided over by a guest of honour (the State governor, the local Bishop, etc.) and have a strong Montfortian emphasis. Here is how two schools celebrated their silver jubilee in 1990. On 21 January, at Trichy, in the huge school RSK (nearly 5000 pupils), 200 pupils and 30 or so artists from outside produced a Son et Lumiere show on the life of Montfort At Montfort Technical Institute, Madras, 28 April marked the end of a year punctuated with high spots: in April 1989 a novena in honour of Montfort (the story of his life was related by loudspeaker every morning, about a thousand people walked in procession through the town, etc.); in December 1989, a bicycle rally to Pondichery to invite people to donate their blood and their organs; on 31 January, a great sports meet; on 17 February 1990, meals offered to the people in need.
In Thailand, a Buddhist country where 12 is regarded as a sacred number and where the royal family enjoys matchless prestige, anniversaries are multiples of 12 and a member of. the royal family is invited to attend. Thus, on 5 February 1993, Montfort College in Chiengmai celebrated its 60 (5 times 12) years’ existence and f>rincess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided over the celebrations, which provided an opportunity to inaugurate a new building.
France is the only country in which celebrations can be held to mark 100 years’ existence of schools still run by the Brothers. The latest-such celebration-was held at Pont-l’Abbe and lasted a year (1994-1995), with a national cross-country race, a televised Mass, the publication of a 300-page book by Br. Robert Baud relating the history of the school, an exhibition of 800 old photographs, a stage play involving 300 actors, a book of poems by the students, the inauguration of a new complex including a school canteen, a cafeteria and a common room, a multimedia centre, an auditorium and an administration building.
Other anniversaries are also celebrated: 25, 50 or 100 years after the arrival of the Brothers in a country. The best example is the centenary of the arrival of the Brothers in Canada. The celebrations opened officially on 1 May 1988 with a solemn Mass at the church of the Visitation at Sault-au-Recollet. From then on and until 24 June the centenary exhibition (174 panels and 2752 photographs) was open to the public. In July a Montfortian retreat was given by a priest of the Company of Mary. On 14 August the two Provinces, Montreal and Champlain, came together at Camp Marcel. The climax was on 4 September when over a thousand people gathered at the shrine of Notre-Dame du Cap-de-Ja-Madeleine: among those attending were Br. Jean Bulteau, Superior General, the Minister for Education in Quebec, a large number of Bishops, and the male and female Provincials of many Congregations. In addition, the following were published: the centenary calendar, articles in the press, and (wonders will never cease!) 40 monographs on the works run by the Brothers since 1888.