On Sunday October 7 in Slovakia at the Annual Federal Council Meetings the General Commissioners for each of 20 countries (including Paul Ritchi representing the FNE) participating elected a new Federal Commissioner to lead our larger movement (FSE of which FNE is a member of) - Dr. Martin Hafner from Germany. Martin is well known to us here in Canada and will do much to help grow our larger movement while also supporting the growth of FNE both in the USA and in Canada.
Martin is on the far left of this picture along with the Director responsible for Communications for our entire movement - Ju Lia Ruman (French) and on the far right Bruno Borde (French) who is the master of singing and animation for the entire movement.
We wish to share with you below Martin's speech outlining a little bit of his back ground and where he plans to head next as the leader of our larger movement active in 21 countries and some 55,000 members strong and growing. FNE is excited about Martin's election as he will do a fine job leading our movement forward to become even stronger in serving the youth while always remaining true to the movement's ideals and values that are in turn aligned with our Holy Father the Pope and thus our Catholic faith. Welcome Martin to your new role and congratulations as to your new appointment!
Federal Council of Bratislava in Slovakia (October 2012) – Martin Hafner’s speech
During our great ranger and rover meeting, the Euromoot 2007 in Slovakia, my group of 200
Italian, Polish, Swiss and German rovers entered into some important difficulties during the second
night of our road. After a hard day of hiking, some of us used the washing rooms and showers
which we rent from the local football club where we had pitched our tents. However, the way our
rovers used these rooms was not at all according to our rover style. To make it short: after three
hours, the rooms were in a state of complete damage. So it was quite understandable that the young Slovakian guy who was responsible for the rooms got quite angry and collected some of his friends near our bivouac. I started to fear. What would the young Slovaks do? Would they start an attack?
What they did was rather harmless. During our camp fire our Slovakian host started his motorbike
and went slowly around our big assembly. When he had passed half the circle, a group of 20 rovers
followed him and put him off his motorbike. I was shocked about this inadequate counter-attack of
our rovers. But what would happen? It seemed as if a war would start. Should we call the police?
The situation was starting to run out of control.
Luckily, we were perfectly saved by a great example of joint action between Europeans. First of all
some Slovakian people from the village told their guy to calm down. Then the Polish rovers, with
their linguistic skills, entered into conversation with the Slovaks explaining them that we would
repair all damage. The Swiss rovers helped to organize the security of our camp during the night.
The Italians repaired all we destroyed and finally the Germans could clean up the washing rooms.
This experience put our 200 rovers tightly together. They really started to be one camp, one road,
one brotherhood towards Czestochowa after they had understood their own mistakes. Everybody
invested his special talents to resolve the mentioned and all the other still considerable difficulties
of our road. So we got one European family - full of mutual respect and friendship. I can tell you. It
was a great moment for me, when I came to this year's Italian national ranger and rover moot and
met again a couple of my rover brothers who had lived the Euromoot adventure together with me.
I think what is true in this minor example, is also true on a more general level. The European
peoples build up one European family. We all know that this family is currently living increasing
difficulties because it is a family forgetting its Christian roots, forgetting to pray together, whereas
we all know: "Families praying together are families staying together"!
Christian brotherhood is the only chance for our small European continent to live peacefully
together. There is no space to live in an egoistic way. We have to live together in unity and true
unity is only founded by our Lord Jesus Christ.
The fathers of our International Union were highly conscious of this and they perfectly knew that
every people is able to contribute: France, the "eldest daughter of the Church", Italy, the home of
Saint Peter and his successors, Poland with its everlasting loyalty and optimism, - just in order to
mention our biggest three associations - but also the Iberian countries from where Christianity
started to be spread all over the world, the Eastern countries with their deep faith and liturgy as we
lived it this morning, or the German speaking countries with their long experience of creating unity
at least among themselves.
It is part of human nature to live together in smaller and bigger communities. Since communities
have started to get more and more complex, all the latest Popes continued to develop the doctrine on
how to live together. We as Guides and Scouts of Europe are strongly called to pick up this social
doctrine of the Church, to live and to teach it to our girls and boys. How easily we can do this! Our
scout law, our principles and our promise have always been perfectly corresponding to the true
Christian way of living together. The same is true for our way of living in the middle of the forests
where nobody prevents us from building up camps like perfect towns where responsibility,
participation, authority, ownership of goods, the way of working, looking after the poor, charity and
unity can be practiced without any external obstacles.
You are looking for a new Federal Commissioner who will be at your disposal to continue our great
vocation of taking all the gifts of the European peoples, to combine them with our ingenious
method, in order to deliver concrete actions in favour of a more and more Christian culture among
young people in Europe.
Am I the right person for this mission? It is up to you to decide. This is why for weeks I have told
my friends who wanted to pray for me: "Do not only pray for me, but for those who have to
decide." The decision they have to take is really serious and must be a really responsible one.
Finally, I do not want to omit to give you some rather technical elements about my person in order
not to stay incomplete here.
I entered our movement in 1986 at the age of ten. I give you five seconds to find out my current
age... In fact, I am 36 years old. My friends and their parents invested many, many forces in order to
convince me to participate at least once in a wolf pack meeting in the suburb of Stuttgart (the home
of Mercedes, Porsche, and IBM) where I lived. I remember well when my mother said: "Come on.
Just go there once. Then they will finish asking you again and again..." I answered: "OK. But I will
never wear such a uniform." As you see: The others were stronger than me. No! I was deeply
impressed by the style of the meeting. It was no problem not to know something or to lose a game.
Nobody laughed at me. I was respected among my peers without compromise. This was great!
Since 1986 I have always been a member of our movement. Starting from 1992, I served in my
group as Akela, as a troop chief (for a short period), and as its group chief. From 2000 to 2003 I was
the assistant of the province commissioner for rovers, from 2003 to 2005 I served as a deputy of the
general commissioner Günther Walter, and from 2005 to 2009 I was scout general commissioner of
the KPE. In 2011 I was asked by Zbigniew to enter the federal bureau as its vice chairman after I
had served the project of the 12-star camp from 2008 on.
Regarding my family and professional life, I have been married with Ulrike since 2003. At this
time, I was still working in my first job after my studies of medical informatics which was in
Switzerland at the University of Saint-Gallen where I did a doctoral thesis in the field of
information management. In 2007 I finished my university carrier in order to work as an
independent consultant for researchers and non-profit organizations. For the latter ones, I highly
benefit from my experiences in scouting, as you can easily imagine.
Regarding my motivation, I think you are well able to derive it from what I just told you about my
personal experiences and my attitudes. Summarized, I feel that Dr Dessloch, former ambassador in
Brussels, hit the nail on its head when he told me during our last 12-star camp: "Your scouting is
exactly what today's and even more tomorrow's Europe needs most. Training young people to
rebuild Europe in the middle of the nowhere of today's societies."
I have to admit that I am feeling now like Abraham. Like Abraham? Exactly. Imagine the situation
when the Lord asked him to leave his home town. We need to have a correct understanding of this
situation. Abraham did not have to leave alone, but to take hundreds of persons and thousands of
sheep with him. It was quite a project needing the acceptance of his family members. They certainly
asked: "Abraham, why do we have to leave?" "I don't know. It is rather a feeling." "Abraham,
where will we go to?" "That's a good question. The Lord will tell us." "Abraham, that is hard to
accept. Tell us at least when we will have to leave. We have to prepare ourselves." "I don't know.
Why not today?" Do you answer together with them: "All right. Let's go!"?
Imagine how happy and joyful Abraham was about the confidence the Lord and his family set into
him. Like him, I am full of joy and thanks for receiving such an overwhelming confidence. I
promise to give all my best to confirm your confidence in complete loyalty to the ideals and values
of our European Scouting transmitted by my predecessors.
However, we do not have to forget that, from this moment on, you are leaving together with me for
a long walk through the desert. Abraham's departure was only the beginning of the sanctification of
men. Generation after generation, this departure continued until Christ's death and resurrection and
man's salvation at Easter.
You certainly ask yourselves in which desert we currently are and what the task of the Federal
Commissioner there is. We are in the desert of our formerly good old Europe. We are there to
become saints. Our scout family is in the middle of this desert in order to become a better and better
instrument in the hands of our Lord.
This is why the first task of the Federal Commissioner is to strengthen his own efforts of personal
sanctification, in order to be the Lord's instrument to serve the unity of our family. In fact, our
family needs nothing more than being united in order to be attractive for people around us. "Father
in heaven, I ask you that they love each other such as you loved me for that the world believes."
This corresponds exactly to the strong demand of the Holy See to the Guides and Scouts of Europe.
Serving the Church, the body of Christ by educating young persons, by leading them safely out of
However, the Church does not leave us alone with this strong demand. It offers us a complete social
doctrine. In fact, I dream that at the end of my mandate, in summer 2015, 80% of our associations
will have decisively learnt to work according to the principles of the social doctrine of the Church
which is perfectly compatible with our method and enlightens all our pedagogical concepts.
Moreover, the responsible on all levels of our movement will have understood then that their main
concern is passing over a better association, a better district, and a better unity to their successor.
We actually have to understand that we really have to serve those who will follow us. This is good
entrepreneurial thinking and we can strongly benefit from such knowledge in order to
professionalize ourselves. Finally, in 2015, the Eurojam will have shown its first long-term effects
leading to secure our precious method for another generation of guides and scouts of Europe.
For these achievements I plan a structure of four centres in the federal commissariat. First
“pedagogical quality”, second “internal exchange”, third “strategic development and
communication”, fourth “administrative efficiency”.
The centre of pedagogical quality has to deepen our pedagogical insights and to assure the
pedagogical quality of our international events. Moreover, it serves to promote our consciousness of
the social doctrine of the Church. The centre of internal exchange will help strengthen our efforts in
exchanging our experiences and our respective knowledge. Additionally it must help to be up to
date of what happens in our Union. The strategic development centre will serve our associations in
growing reasonably, based on an entrepreneurial way of thinking. Furthermore, our great
communication efforts of the last years are consolidated and developed to be really effective by
this centre. Finally, our administrative efficiency will take care of facilitating all the work that has
to be done.
What are the first steps? The Federal Bureau will meet in two weeks in order to start its work.
Afterwards I will be able to complete and to confirm the existing federal team with some
modifications. Of course, all this will be in clear relation with the respective general commissioners.
Afterwards, I will work with the respective centres in order to detail their mission, to identify the
best means to establish, and I will find opportunities to meet the associations waiting for the
investiture of their general commissioners. Finally it seems urgent to me that the new Federal
Bureau can report as soon as possible to have completely understood the Eurojam project in its
Let me finish by sharing with you my interesting conversation with a French priest during the
congress of religious advisors in Cracow. We talked about the integration of Muslims in Europe.
And we concluded that every real integration and unity among men is Christ saying: I am the way,
truth and life.
He gave us his Mother under whose protection I put all the FSE, its boys and girls, its chiefs and
commissioners at the beginning of my service. I invite you to pray together with me in the words of
our predecessors dedicating our brotherhood to Our Lady in Czestochowa during the Eurojam in
God our Father, we give You thanks
For giving us Mary,
By whom Your Son, our Redeemer,
Came among us.
Virgin Mary, thanks to your availability to the Holy Spirit,
On the day of the Annunciation,
You opened to us the way towards God.
Our Lady of the Annunciation,
You are Our Lady of the Yes, model of our “Be Prepared”,
You are Our Lady of the Promise, pledge of our fidelity,
You are the Servant of the Lord, ideal of our commitment to serve,
You are Our Lady of Spring,
You, the Mother of all that grows, all that becomes green,
You are the Redeemer’s Mother who welcomed the mystery of the Cross.
We wear this sign on our uniform.
“Oh Lady of Light”, you are
The star of our hearts that guides us towards God.
Our Lady of the Annunciation, Amen.
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