The measure of a person
You know it. We all know it! And Martin Luther King reminds us of the truth:
- "The ultimate measure of a person is not where s/he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where s/he stands in times of challenges and controversy."
Often times, those of us who are engaged in the sacred and vital enterprise of education find ourselves engaged with challenges and controversy. Teachers, adminsistrators, staff, all of us who entrusted with the sacred mission of education find that there are some "trying times" as we seek to prepare the students entrusted to our care "for lives of personal development, professional success, civic engagement, and service to their fellow human beings" (Manhattan College Mission Statement).
In the Lasallian tradition, we often speak of the "sacredness of the relationship between student and teacher" -- and the total commitment of us all to the well-being of the students entrusted to our care.
Yesterday, October 9th, I was reminded of this - and I was reminded of the dedicated faculty, staff, and administrators here at Manhattan College - as the Catholic Church recognized the holiness of nine Brothers of the Christian Schools, fellow Lasallian educators, and a Passionist Priest - who, like us, are totaly committed to the well-being of the students entrusted to our care.
All ten (10) of the people who were regognized by the Church yesterday, were in the main young religious: four were under twenty-six years, and the eldest was hardly 46.
All of them - all 10 - were murdered - martyred. For what? Why? For being committed to their vocation, their profession, their students! That's where they decided to stand in times of challenge and controversy ... with their students, faithful to their vocation, their profession!
Eight of the Brothers formed a community that conducted the Notre Dame school in Turón, the center of a mining valley in the northwest of Spain. The Brothers, known to defy the ban on teaching religion, openly escorted their students to Sunday Mass. They and their school were irritants to the radicals in charge of the town because of the religious influence exerted on the young.
On the First Friday of October in 1934, the authorities broke into the Brothers’ house on the pretext that arms had been hidden there. Father Inocencio, a Passionist, who had come the night before, was preparing to offer Mass for the Brothers. They and their chaplain were arrested, detained over the weekend without trial, and then in the middle of the night were marched out to the cemetery where they were summarily shot.
Brother Cirilo, the Brother Director and Principal of the school, was 46 years old and Brother Marciano, the cook, was 39. Brother Julián was 32 and all the rest were in their twenties. Aniceto, the youngest at 22, was still in triennial vows. They were arrested, detained, and executed as a community ("together and by association"), victims of the hatred and violence against the Church. They witnessed by their death to the faith they so courageously professed and so effectively communicated to their students.
“To the group of the martyrs of Turón is added Brother Jaime Hilario, FSC, who was assassinated three years later (1937) in Tarragona, a port city in the northeastern Catalonia region of Spain. Forgiving those who were going to kill him, he exclaimed: "Friends, to die for Christ is to reign."
"All of them, the 9 killed in Turón in 1934 and Brother Jaime, killed in Tarragona in 1937, as the witnesses say, prepared themselves for death as they had lived: with persevering prayer, in the spirit of fraternity, without hiding their condition as religious, with the firmness of those who know themselves to be citizens of heaven.
"They are not heroes of a human war in which they did not participate, but were educators of youth. Because of their condition as consecrated men and teachers they faced their tragic destiny as authentic testimony of faith, giving with their martyrdom the last lesson of their life. May the example of Brother Jaime and his intercession reach the entire Lasallian family and the entire Church.”
Sunday of Christ the King, November 21, 1999
“The Church glorifies the whole ten because they remained faithful to their consecration even as far as giving their life for the faith and their evangelizing mission. The official recognition of their holiness exalts at the same time their mission - one that we know is delicate and difficult - as Christian educators of youth. And the fact that the eight Brothers of Turon were canonized members of a community may be a powerful stimulus for our educational communities today.”
With gratitude for all engaged in the sacred vocation and mission of Manhattan College, for the woman and men who "stands in times of challenges and controversy" with and for their students and the truth ...
Saint John Baptist de La Salle ... pray for us.
May we continue to live with faith and zeal ... forever!