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Kevin Wanden
Posted 34 days ago

Marist Brothers Apology

Members of the Marist Brothers have recently been given the opportunity to meet with former students from Marist schools. Experiences were shared of their Marist life, discipline and teaching methods received from a Marist education. While the Marists have achieved some great successes in educating generations of youth throughout Aotearoa, it is with deep sadness that some of the experiences shared were intensely upsetting and confronting. The Marist Brothers want to thank those individuals for their courage in sharing their experiences and vulnerability with them.

During these meetings, sexual abuse, excessive corporate punishment, physical discipline, and their long-lasting impacts were shared. Listening to these experiences has helped the Marist Brothers to reflect more deeply on events, particularly during the 1960s and early 70s. Corporal punishment has been embedded in the education system throughout Aotearoa for many decades. It wasn’t until the 1980s that it was beginning to be phased out before finally being banned in July of 1990. What is being addressed today are examples of excessive physical punishment by individuals. The Marist Brothers condemn such behaviour.

Meetings with those affected allowed the Marist Brothers the opportunity to listen, learn and witness the healing that can be achieved by acknowledging these failings. Sadly, it is only today that the impact and lasting effects of abuse are being understood. Experiences shared have highlighted how abuse can present itself in many forms, such as anxiety, fear, addiction, broken relationships, anger, or depression. Often carried throughout adult lives. To promote further healing, the Marist Brothers see the importance of recognizing the damage that has been caused more widely.

The Marist Brothers want to offer an apology to anybody who has experienced any form of harm while in their care. It is with deep regret that we acknowledge that by some, excessive punishment was used as a tool to steer learning through fear. The power and responsibility entrusted to the Marist Brothers should never have been used to harm any child. This goes against the vision of St Marcellin Champagnat, the Marist Brothers’ founder. St Marcellin Champagnat believed in nurturing the spirits of children through schooling and education. This ethos was resonant among the first men who began the first Marist Brothers school in 1818. Those foundational principles are an inspiration to the Brothers today.

Today, the Marist Brothers adhere to strict safeguarding regulations before offering Ministry that involves children or vulnerable adults, this includes a Police check and appropriate safeguarding training.

We understand each person impacted deals with trauma differently. Some want to share their experiences more fully, while others may choose not to. If you are ready or choose to in the future, you can contact the Marist Brothers Professional Standards Office (PSO) directly to share your experiences and discuss available support.

The National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS) are available to investigate any complaint of sexual abuse against Religious and Clergy within the Catholic Church; NOPS can also facilitate organizing support or therapy if necessary.
While this might seem daunting and confronting, please rest assured that the utmost confidentiality will be respected, we will try to navigate support and reporting in a manner that is suitable for you.

Jonathan Sankey
Marist Brothers Professional Standards Office (PSO)
P: 022 648 4014

For complaints of sexual abuse please contact:
National Office for Professional Standards (NOPS)
P: 0800 114 622


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