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Accueil Main aspects of our lives In the midst of world

Making choices in order to serve and love better


france French : Monique L




The academic world in which I spent my whole professional life may seem quite alien to the demands of the life of Nazareth, indeed almost incompatible with an ideal of solitude, of silence, or humility or contemplation…the huge number of students and teachers, the subtle hierarchies, the pressures  of “career making”, the very position of the teacher (who  is supposed to have the monopoly of knowledge and a form of power which exerts itself in speech) contribute to make the image of the humble carpenter of Nazareth an exotic and inaccessible one.

Yet, as I review these past years, I discover how many opportunities I had to “choose” Nazareth in different ways, on the basis of my initial conviction that the University’s role is to serve the growth of young people and of their potentialities, to kindle in them a passion for  knowledge, for science and for engagement.


I was able to choose to serve the humility of beginnings,  by welcoming the new students , who were sometimes quite unprepared,  grappling with the task of bringing them up to the required level (one of my colleagues would speak  of alphabetisation) instead of waiting for  them to drop out (what was euphemistically called an evaporating process).

rencontre étudiants

I was able to choose the monotony ( and the greater number of papers to mark) of undergraduate classes , instead of the specialised – and more gratifying  graduate seminars. I  was able to choose to put my own research on the back burner to take my share of the administrative tasks that  make it possible for the academic community to  function on a daily basis, and, as a result accept the look of condescension  that colleagues involved in research cast  on those who do not publish or attend  fashionable  conferences. I could accept the tension between the repetitive character of the classes to be given and the need to preserve the curiosity and intellectual vigour without which one soon becomes boring.



I was able to choose to prefer human relations, and cooperation between colleagues over the rat race of competition. To fight against the anonymity generated by large numbers, to be available to students outside classes .To choose humility in my way of teaching, convinced  as I am that we never know everything there is to know, that our knowledge is never definitive, and  to  make this clear…

To know that  when we rejoice at the success of a student  no one of us can take personal pride in it ( a student  who has completed his course of studies has probably been  taught by twenty different teachers…) and to  disclaim any merit in this result.



What about contemplation, then? There were opportunities to give thanks when reading a  successful paper, to offer up the work of all as I walked along the corridor that led to my class , to pray while invigilating an exam, and to  entrust to the Lord the future of these youths, to thank Him for calling us to cooperate in the construction of their future, to rejoice at the diversity of their talents and projects…

Indeed, this was Nazareth, so close at hand, and so rich….