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Australian Marist Solidarity

21/05/2013: Australia

On Thursday May 2nd over one hundred and forty guests, including a strong contingent of Marists, viewed an exhibition of the work of photo-journalist Conor Ashleigh, an ex-student of St Francis Xavier College, Hamilton NSW. These photographs in large A1 size were to mark the launch of MSol as the overarching brand of the Province’s Solidarity Offices: MAPS (Marist Asia Pacific Solidarity), AMS (Australian Marist Solidarity Ltd) and MVA (Marist Volunteers Australia).

St Carthage’s University Parish Church in Parkville was converted into a gallery for the evening by the imaginative work of Robert Simeoni. A large installation was created in wooden beams and plywood to mount 25 photographs from MSol projects in Bougainville and Timor-Leste. The installation, design and lighting were all assembled pro bono for the evening by four Melbourne firms working over two days; Robert Simeoni Architects, JSB Lighting, McMahon + Utri Builders and Gellibrand Cabinetworks. The changing colours on two columns flashed onto the Church façade creating a festive atmosphere. During the Launch, Fr Michael Elligate and Al Sherry spoke about the significance of the Province’s international Solidarity work and its partners and donors.

Guests were catered for by “Friends of MSol” who for the past eight years have hosted Melbourne based events. Michael Coleman from the Brisbane Office designed a guide and commentary to the photographs and projects. He also worked with the team to create a pocket size takeaway with a sample of the photographs entitled “The Little Blue Book about Marist Solidarity” explaining the vision, brand, offices and project needs.

Future events featuring this exhibition are scheduled for Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and other centres throughout 2013.

 

Tools for a Global Re-Shape

The thirteenth century Persian mystic and poet Rumi exhorted us to: “Speak a new language, so the world will be a new world”

This theme was developed by Marist Brother Allen Sherry at the launch of the Marists new brand MSol (Marist Solidarity). He pointed to the desire for a new global human community where the Majority World, the people of developing nations, shape their own destinies with justice and more equity to resources’ access. The relatively new language of solidarity introduced into the ecclesial lectionary by John Paul II in 1987, together with the work of photo journalists such as Conor Ashleigh in the exhibition at the launch, speak of the urgency of a global re-shape! There is a power for images to change the world.

The launch of MSol was marked by the distribution of “The Little Blue Book about Marist Solidarity” to all at the launch.

This small pocket size text has images from the exhibition and outlines the distinctive roles of the Marists’ three international solidarity offices now under one overarching brand: MSol Marist Solidarity speaks of a vision of the Australia Marists, lay and brothers, working for development and education of young people on the margins of life. This is going beyond walking with others in their shoes empowering them through skills transfer (hence Marist Volunteers Australia launched last year) – one office under the new brand MSol headed up by Catherine Hannon.

A second office under the brand MSol involves resourcing local initiatives and hence the necessity for financial partnerships through Australian Marist Solidarity Ltd (AMS) for strictly development projects. AMS now has overseas aid tax deductibility status for donors.

Finally a third office is the oldest: MAPS (Marist Asia Pacific Solidarity) catering for a broader range of projects in 15 countries including welfare, educational support and pastoral assistance. Marist Schools Australia provide 40% of this budget from generous students and families across the nation.

Brother Allen Sherry stressed that nurturing hope is one aspect of Marist Solidarity that our team and various volunteers on committees, and in active service overseas, put as a core value in our approach.

To many present at the evening, the eyes in these images speak of partnerships that nurture hope. The mother with the child with a disability learning physio in her village; the young teachers training in Baucau and re-starting Bougainville education projects after civil war. Yet the peoples of Boungainville and Timor Leste gift us with their persistence and resilience.

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www.maristsolidarity.org.au

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