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One hundred and eighty Marist Brothers gathered in Hunters Hill

06/02/2012: Australia

One hundred and eighty Marist Brothers from across Australia gathered at St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, last week to discuss their future as they move towards forming a single new province in December this year. There are currently 170 Marist Brothers in the Sydney province, which stretches from Cairns to Canberra, and 80 in the Melbourne Province, which covers the rest of Australia. 

In forming one province, the Brothers will look to spread the administration across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. 

Sydney Provincial Br Jeff Crowe said coming together as one province was the “natural step going forward” into the 21st century.

“There are many aspects of our life as Brothers in Australia that are common,” he said. “In some ways it has been a natural progression being Brothers together in the one country.

“Of course, there are the practical things of ministries, especially schools and education systems, where the national character is becoming so significant.

“So that’s a step forward.

“Also in some ways the heritage that we have at the moment of two provinces does not recognise the way in which the lay people who are very much associated with us just see themselves as Australian, and that’s their natural identity.

“We have been doing lots of things together for many years, and so, in terms of common vision and a common sense of purpose within the country, it’s the right time also for taking this step.”

He continued: “We don’t re­gard this simply as a merger, and then a competition in the sense as to which system of the past will win out over any other system. We want to build up a new province, exploiting the possibilities of a fresh start.

“We do have some younger people who are joining us as Brothers, and we also have lots of other lay Marist people whose lives are very much caught up with ours, who are intending a future as Marists. 

“And so providing well for their future and vitality is crucial as we go forward.”

Br Jeff said the Brothers have targeted three key dimensions which will form the basis of the direction of the new province.

“Firstly, how we want to live together as Brothers and be Brothers as consecrated men in Australia,” he said.

“Secondly how we want to continue to grow in our relationship with lay people in terms of sharing charism and spirituality, and sharing responsibility for ministry decisions with lay people. 

“And, thirdly, how we continue to ensure good initiatives for kids who are doing it tough in various circumstances.”

He added: “We have lots of current commitments across the country. We are responsible either ourselves directly or in joint governance or on behalf of dioceses for more than 50 schools throughout the country, and we have quite a big welfare network which we call Marist Youth Care which is centred in western Sydney.”

Br Jeff said joining the Brothers is an attractive option for young men, a life based on simplicity, fidelity and service.

“In times past we had groups of 30 young men joining up at any one time,” he said. “Now they’re coming in there ones and twos, but we’re happy and full of admiration for these young men.

“Being a Brother enables you to be in ministry, in our case, particularly with young people. It’s a very privileged and sacred relationship.”

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