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Discipleship is not a Positon but an Action

 Leadership?

This morning, the community commissioned our 2020 Student Leaders. Whilst there can be so much written about leadership, ultimately, as a community centred on the Gospel of Jesus and inspired by the charism of Edmund Rice, our leadership model is based on discipleship. What does this mean?

Very simply we are called to take seriously what Jesus, Edmund and Ambrose took seriously. If we examine the irrefutable evidence of their lives, regardless of personal and theological beliefs and doubts, we glimpse what is most central about God and therefore what the ATC community of discipleship is called to.

“I am more afraid of an army of one hundred sheep led by a lion than an army of one hundred lions led by a sheep.” Charles Maurice, Prince de Talleyrand-Périgord”.

Discipleship is about followship, in keeping the ultimate commandment to love God and neighbour. Hence, to be a disciple is to be a dealer in hope. Jesus, Edmund and Ambrose built a private relationship with God (love) and were faithful to their private integrity. Discipleship is about a passion for social justice. Just look at the gospels where, on average, one out of every eight lines, Jesus challenges his followers to reach out to the poor. There is no doubt that Edmund and Ambrose also did this. Discipleship is about community and not something we undertake alone. Core to the ministries of Jesus, Edmund and Ambrose was the support and challenge living in community. Discipleship isn’t just about what we do but more importantly, the spirit within which we do it. Nothing counts for much, no matter how noble the action, if it not born of faith, hope and love. When our concern for holistic education and faith in action comes out of a place of competition, elitism or notoriety we are no longer act as disciples of Jesus, Edmund and Ambrose. Their ministries reflect that true discipleship is about the integrity of our hearts and about how much they can imitate God’s compassionate love for ALL us sinners and saints. This leadership model forces us to question assumptions about morality, religion, duty, society and gender roles. It crosses cultural boundaries and hinges upon understanding yourself, your values and beliefs, developing and giving respect, valuing the unique qualities of others, inspiring others, not compromising on integrity, being resilient and working hard. A disciple leads by example, whether they intend to or not and hence the trouble with discipleship is that is you don’t risk anything, you risk everything!

My prayer for the Student Leaders of 2020 is that they risk everything because discipleship is not position but action! This was echoed by our College Captain, Tom Perissinotto who challenged our Brotherhood to ‘simply have action to match our words’. This is at the foundation of leadership and is as relevant now as it was in Jesus’ time as tragically our business and political leaders continue to fail us, our children and their future.

Conor Finn
Dean of Formation