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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Kid With a Bike

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

The Dardenne brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre are from Belgium and they are wonderful storytellers. They know how to create a prolonged moment in time, capture a very human situation of strained or scarred relationships. From this they lead the characters from alienation to amazing generosity, especially when a young person is involved.
 
In “The Son” (“Le fils”; 2002) a carpentry teacher takes on a new student midterm, a teenaged boy who is about 16. During class the teacher realizes that he recognizes the boy. He becomes angry and tells the principal he wants the boy out of his class. But then he starts to follow him and we realize that this boy, fresh from an institution for youth offenders, killed the teacher’s very young son a few years before. His ex-wife, now remarried and pregnant, can comprehend choices the teacher now makes. “The Son” is one of the starkest, most moving and Christian films I have ever seen and there is no specific religion in it.
 
“The Kid with a Bike” (“Le gamin au vélo”) won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes in 2011.  It tells the story of Cyril (Thomas Doret; for the complete cast please see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1827512) who has just been released from a youth farm. His father refuses to care for him and Cyril goes looking for his bicycle hoping that even though his father does not want him that this man has not sold off his precious bike. Alas, he has done the unthinkable.
 
The abandoned boy exhibits anger, frustration, even violence. He has lost all security until he randomly meets a hairdresser, Samantha. Inexplicably (as the Dardenne’s are wont to do) she agrees to become his foster parent on weekends.
 
While some critics think these filmmakers need to try something new, I think they have the ability to into a reality that has marked, or marred, every generation since the Industrial Revolution and perhaps before: disposable kids. Parents fail to care for their children and they fall into the prevailing culture or criminal behavior.  But if the parents fail - the kindness of a stranger prevails.
 
The Dardenne brothers know how to tell a story about hope and humanity with gritty simplicity. Now if they could add just a touch of humor.




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Joseph Calasanz: 
		<p>From Aragon, where he was born in 1556, to Rome, where he died 92 years later, fortune alternately smiled and frowned on the work of Joseph Calasanz. A priest with university training in canon law and theology, respected for his wisdom and administrative expertise, he put aside his career because he was deeply concerned with the need for education of poor children.</p>
		<p>When he was unable to get other institutes to undertake this apostolate at Rome, he and several companions personally provided a free school for deprived children. So overwhelming was the response that there was a constant need for larger facilities to house their effort. Soon Pope Clement VIII gave support to the school, and this aid continued under Pope Paul V. Other schools were opened; other men were attracted to the work and in 1621 the community (for so the teachers lived) was recognized as a religious community, the Clerks Regular of Religious Schools (Piarists or Scolopi). Not long after, Joseph was appointed superior for life.</p>
		<p>A combination of various prejudices and political ambition and maneuvering caused the institute much turmoil. Some did not favor educating the poor, for education would leave the poor dissatisfied with their lowly tasks for society! Others were shocked that some of the Piarists were sent for instruction to Galileo (a friend of Joseph) as superior, thus dividing the members into opposite camps. Repeatedly investigated by papal commissions, Joseph was demoted; when the struggle within the institute persisted, the Piarists were suppressed. Only after Joseph’s death were they formally recognized as a religious community.</p>
American Catholic Blog The Church’s motherhood is a spiritual reality that profoundly affects the lives of believers. In fact, the famous convert to Catholicism Cardinal John Henry Newman once said that it was through his reading and encounter with the Church of the Fathers that “I found my spiritual Mother.”

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