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Br. Chris Wills

 

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Director of the Secretariat for International Collaboration for Mission

13/01/2012: General House

The General Council has five secretariats to carry forward its objectives under the plan for Animation and Government 2009-2017.  The newest, the Secretariat for International Collaboration for Mission joins the Secretariats for Mission, Laity, Brothers (Brothers Today), and FMSI.

Brothers Chris Wills has been asked to lead the secretariat for the next three years. He arrived in Rome on New Year’s Day to begin his new ministry. He brings to this role his experience as a teacher, administrator and a brother Marist, with a proficiency in the world of international development and the commissioning of lay and brother Marist volunteers.
Chris was born in Sydney, Australia in 1947.  He is the eldest of five children. He lived in many states in Australia as his Air Force military family travelled from air base to air base. Chris left school and gained experience in jobs ranging from banking to surveying while he pursued his tertiary studies. He started teaching as a lay teacher in a Marist college in Sydney in 1971.

Chris joined the brothers in 1972 at age 24 and completed his novitiate in 1973. He was appointed, as a brother, to the school where he had previously served as a lay teacher. He taught in five schools in Australia until 1996. During that time he also worked for four years with disadvantaged children in what was eventually to become known as Marist Youth Care, the Marist social welfare agency based in Sydney. Between 1986 and 1991 he taught in Papua New Guinea – firstly in the remote highlands and later on Kairiru Island in the Bismark Sea.

In 1991, Chris was offered a period of renewal at Nemi and in Chicago. Returning to Australia, he taught for four years before he was asked to take on the directorship, for six years, of Marist Farmhouse, an intentional community of young adults and brothers, located at Mittagong near Sydney.

It was at Marist Farmhouse that he began his work of assisting young adults to ‘join in’ with Marist works located in remote areas of the Pacific and Asia. These placements were elements of a ‘package’ planned by the young Marists as part of their commitment to engage in Marist mission.

Chris recalls the story of Brother Charles Howard, when he was greeting the brothers who were beginning renewal in Rome in 1992. Charles asked, ”Who are the missionaries in the group?”. He immediately corrected his own use of language, “I have to learn to stop saying that! We are all working for the mission”

It is this sense of ‘mission’ that has guided Chris’ work for the last nine years. He has been the foundation director the solidarity agency established by the Sydney Province – MAPS (Marist Asia-Pacific Solidarity). MAPS has worked in the area of international project development with our ministries in the District of Melanesia and in the Pacific as well as in parts of Asia, particularly East Timor and Cambodia. MAPS has also facilitated immersion and volunteer experiences with those international ministries.
MAPS has initiated and contributed to solidarity educational programs in fifty Australian Marist schools. Chris was a member of a team that conducted a review of BIS in 2004 and was also involved in a consultation concerning the development of our ministry of advocacy for the rights of the child in Geneva in 2008.

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