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Marist Brothers Melanesia - Issue 8

 

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03/06/2014: Papua New Guinea

 

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In the churches calendar we are celebrating the season of Easter and the possibility of new life found in the most unexpected places. Easter has a potent message for Marists in Melanesia as we prepare for the coming District Assembly and Chapter. It is a time when we reflect on the signs of new life in the District and the direction they are pointing to for all of us.

We are invited to continue to reflect on our call to be Marist and in particular at this time it is important to reflect the current signs of life in the District. An important sign of life is the development of an "Extended District Council". During April this group meet in Port Moresby for the first time. The five members of the current District Council and five Lay Marists met to discuss the future of our mission and ministries. This was the first full meeting of the council which consists of the District Council and five lay members. Most members of the council participated in formation experience last year in preparation to become members of the council. The three day meeting proved to be very fruitful and the discussion was very worthwhile. It is hoped that this group will meet a couple of times a year to discuss the mission of the District and give council to the District Leader. This new way of involving all Marists in the decision making for our mission and ministry is about bringing new life to this part of the Marist world.

At the extended council meeting part of the conversation revolved around the relationship between Lay Marists and Brothers and it proved a very important conversation. As we move into the future the relation- ship will need to develop. All of us will have to leave behind some very in trenched attitudes in order to par- ticipate in bringing about a different future. Some of our personal beliefs about the status of Lay Marists and Brothers need to be challenged. For many of us there is an underlying belief that Brothers have higher standing than others. It is a difficult journey to change attitudes that have been held for years. At this time in the life of the District it is important to challenge ourselves about some of our deeply held beliefs.

Benedict Tooming was at the meeting and will continue to join the District Council at future meetings. He participates in all our discussions about mission and ministry. In the short time he has been the Executive Office of ministries for the District he has been busy visiting our ministries and develop- ing plans for each of them. His work has added an extra positive dimension to our mission. It gives a new significance in making our mission a priority and it points to a future of greater co- responsibility. It has already become evident that appointing Benedict is about bringing new life responsibility. It has already become evident that appointing Benedict is about bringing new life and new edges to our mission.

Another very significant sign of new life in the District is the Marist Life Team. In its first year of operation it has already started to make progress in developing formation programmes for all Marists in the District. Ruth Hihiru's role continues to develop and take on new elements. She and the team have developed and started to give formation programmes for all those who work in our ministries. Ruth has also started to work on a docu- ment to help develop a deeper understanding of a Marist family. This is an initiative that has been discussed often in the District. Many Marists have expressed a desire to understand what being Marist means in the way they live as a family. Ruth's work in this area is proving to be significant. Ruth will also participate in the dis- cernment of the District Council when our mission is discussed.

The District Council continues to explore new edges in carrying out our mission. This is very much on the agenda during meetings of the extended District Council. The discernment of our mission during these meet- ings is an effort to live out our desire for all Marist to take responsibility for the future of our mission in Mela- nesia. The work of both Ruth and Benedict encourages us to go to explore these edges.

We are now developing formation programmes for all Marist and we are being given the opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of Marcellin and his charism. In our preparation for the Assembly and Chapter we need to reflect more on our mission and come to a better understanding of how we live out this charism in our mission. Calling ourselves Marist needs to impact on how each of us lives our lives and the choices we make. What each of us does indicate that we are Marist; what examples in our own lives indicate that we are Marist. The desire is to live this out in the reality of our lives and in the mission. Surely the more we are able to live lives that are Marist the more that we bring new life to all.

The journey to bring about something new is not always an easy one and is one that requires commitment to step outside what we are used to. Trying to bring about something new requires a little letting go and more than a little trust. It also requires a belief that what happens today might not bring results until sometime in the future and these results can be unexpected. This is very much a belief in the work of God's Spirit bringing about new life in all of us.

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Br. Ken McDonald

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