Thursday, June 28, 2012

Let's have Catholic MyGSAs: Maria Goretti Saintly Alliances

St. Maria Goretti
The provincial government with the passing of Bill 13 has legislated that all schools in Ontario, public and Catholic, must have Gay/Straight Alliances, GSAs, if students and staff make a request to have such a group in their school. On some school board websites these clubs are already referred to as MyGSAs. The government decreed and all boards have supposedly agreed that these clubs may prevent bullying.

One of the best ways to do this in our Catholic schools is to establish our version of MyGSAs, and call them, Maria Goretti Saintly Alliances (MGSAs). Maria knew a great deal about being bullied and sexually abused. Her mother and father worked as simple sharecroppers. She was born in 1890 and died in 1902 in Ferriere, Italy. It was her neighbour 20 year-old Alessandro Serenelli who verbally and sexually abused her on several occasions. This all happened before her 12th birthday. Maria resisted the sexual advances and threats by saying to the bully, "But what are you doing Alessandro? God is not pleased, you will go to hell." One day Alessandro's sexual urges took possession of him, and he ended up stabbing Maria 14 times because she refused his evil desires.

Maria didn't die immediately after the attack. In the final hours of her life, she forgave Alessandro. Her family and those who knew her were shocked at what happened, but they were also moved by her act of forgiving the man who had tried rape and take her life. She is an extraordinary example of Christian charity from someone so young, so pure and innocent. St. Maria Goretti is the patron saint of young women, purity, chastity, forgiveness and of rape victims. She had the courage to withstand moral evil. This is the ethical standard we must offer our young people today. 

It is no accident that Maria's body recently visited a number of churches in Toronto. It normally rests in a shrine in Nettuno, Italy. Considering all the emphasis of late on promoting a very over-sexualized school curriculum, it was very appropriate that while in the city she was taken to St. Maria Goretti Catholic School and parish in Scarborough. She was also brought to other communities where there were long lineups to see her and visitors prayed into the night hours.  Pope Pius XII canonized Maria in 1950. The Pope spoke of her as a martyr with an extraordinary Christian virtue. Her mother was present when she was declared a saint. 

We encourage any student, parent, teacher and school principal to implement the spirit of Bill 13 and start MGSAs, Maria Goretti Saintly Alliances in every Catholic school as the new school year begins in September. If there's a parent council in your school put this idea on the agenda. Present the idea to school trustees. Contact the director of education and the superintendent and principal of your school and tell them you want this association started in your neighbourhood school. With the help of God's grace,  your parish priest will announce this initiative your church's weekly bulletin. Use your creativity to spread the good news to young students about chastity and purity. Lastly, why not lead by example and establish the group yourself. Remember this can be done at school, but you can also do it in your parish and if possible your place of work.

What would these saintly school alliances do?

We can use the Catechism of the Catholic Church to guide us in establishing the moral principles behind the new Maria Goretti Saintly Alliances. These schools groups could promote a whole new vision of human sexuality as proposed by the Blessed John Paul II in his Theology of the Body. Here are some suggestions and you can add your own:

1. They would promote and defend the Catechism, starting with the Sixth Commandment: Thou shall not commit adultery;
2. They would accept the teaching that, "When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God male, and female he created them, ..."
3. They would accept the belief that, "Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. ... Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral and spiritual difference and complimentarity are oriented toward the good of marriage and the flourishing of family life;"
4. They would promote the idea that students aspire and live the vocation of chastity as "an apprenticeship in self-mastery;"
5. The alliances would respect the integrity of the person at all times;
6. The alliances would foster the realization that chastity involves both the integrity of the person and the integrity of the gift of self. They are gifts from God;
7. They would learn and evangelize to other students about the various offences against chastity: avoid lust, masturbation, fornication, pornography, prostitution, rape and homosexuality. They would promise to avoid these offences in the technology they use and in the magazines, films, television programs, videos and the songs they listen to.
8. They would pray daily for St. Maria Goretti to help them to live the vocation of chastity.

St. Maria Goretti's feast day is celebrated on July 6. St. Maria Goretti, pray for us. 

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful idea Lou. These Maria Goretti Saintly Associations or MGSAs could also focus on the life of other Saints. Students could learn about new Saints and what special qualities and attributes these Saints had that could be promoted and emmulated by students today.

    May Saint Maria Goretti help start Maria Goretti Saintly Associations or MGSAs in Catholic schools right across the Province of Ontario.

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