Saturday, July 31, 2010

Good News In Education

St. John the Evangelist School in Dala is part of the good news of Catholic education in the Solomons. The school was founded by the Marists in the 1950s. Like all the schools in the Solomons, St. John's became part of the government education system at the time of independence in 1978. As we have noted, government supervision of the schools has been a disaster, and in recent years the churches have assumed responsibility for running schools once again.

In February 2009, St. John's at Dala became the first Catholic school in the Diocese of Auki. In January 2010 a community of three Marists returned to bring a distinctly Catholic environment to the school. Remarkable things have happened in the past two years. The high school has added four new classrooms and a science center, all built by local Dala craftsmen. A grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes has been restored and art work has been added around the school grounds. Responding to the school's new motto of "Faith & Responsibility," both attendance and behavior have improved significantly, and higher achievement has followed. The students at St. John's are looking forward to great things!

Two Marianists and a Marist: Bro. Philip is from Malaita and is pleased to be pioneering Catholic education on his home island. The similarities between the Marists and the Marianists, both known officially as the Society of Mary, are many, going back to the foundation of both congregations at the same time in post-revolutionary France. Like Fr. Chaminade, Fr. Colon, the founder of the Marists, had a missionary heart. While Fr. Chaminade's mission was to re-Christianize his homeland, Fr. Colon answered the call for missionaries to go to Oceania, the last area of the world to receive the Gospel. Both Marianists and Marists have always seen education as one of the most effective means of evangelization. The martyr St. Peter Chanel is the best known of the courageous and faithful Marists who left their homes in Europe to bring Christianity to the islands of the Pacific.

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