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Marist Bulletin - Number 141



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Visit from the General Council

The General Councilors have been visiting the brothers, communities, and Marist ministries in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. They began their travels on March 18th and will complete this phase of their work on May 7th. Brothers Théoneste Kalisa, Emili Turú, and Michael de Waas (a delegate of the General Superior) are visiting the Province of Sydney, Australia; Maurice Berquet and Pedro Herreros, the Melbourne and New Zealand Provinces; Luis García Sobrado and Peter Rodney, the Pacific Islands; and Antonio Ramalho and Ernesto Sánchez, secretary of the Religious Life and Vocation Ministry Commissions, the region’s formation centers.
These brothers will meet May 8 – 11 to draw up reports about their visits. The process will conclude with a meeting of the expanded General Council May 12 – 18 in Mittagong, Australia. This gathering will include the General Superior and his Council, the Provincial Councils of the Provinces of Sydney, Melbourne, and New Zealand, and the Superior and a Councilor from the District of Melanesia.

So far the General Council has visited Africa, Asia, Brazil, the Cono Sur region of Latin America, and Europe. Each visit consists of three phases: holding retreats, visiting the brothers and communities, and a final meeting of an expanded General Council. The aim is to support the living out of God’s dream for Marists in every part of the world, this time in Oceania.

Their story began in Sydney in 1871

Australia covers 2,948,366 sq. mi. and has a population of 20 million people. The Marist brothers have two Administrative Units in the country: Melbourne and Sydney. The Melbourne Province, with Brother Paul Gilchrist as Provincial, has 100 brothers in 18 communities. The Sector of India, with 26 brothers in three communities and also a community of brothers in East Timor are attached to this Province.

The Sydney Province has 217 brothers in 29 communities. Brother John Thompson is Provincial. The District of Melanesia (more news from that part of the Marist world in future issues) and our mission involving two brothers in Cambodia are dependent on this Province.

These two Provinces work together in many areas and are carrying out several joint ventures, especially in the field of solidarity, youth ministry, formation, and educational programs and networks (see the interview with Brother Michael Green, President of the Association of Australian Marist Schools, in Marist Bulletin 129), enriching our Marist life in Australia, and welcoming the involvement of other countries in this part of the Marist world.

January 1838, Michel Colombon was the first Marist brother to set foot on New Zealand soil

New Zealand has an area of 103,736 sq mi. and a population of about 3,800,000. Our Marist Province of the same name has 120 brothers in 21 communities. 90 of them work within the country and 30 on the islands of Fiji (area of 7055 sq. mi., population 831,000), Kiribati (277 sq. mi., population 86,000), Samoa (1209 sq. mi., population 160,000), and Tonga (270 sq. mi., population 100,000). All these places form part of the same Administrative Unit. The Province is organized into two regions, Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Brother Barry Burns is Provincial; Brother Henry Spinks, Regional Superior of New Zealand; and Brother Iulio Suaesi, Regional Superior of the Pacific Islands.

This Province is home to wide variety of languages and cultures, and answering the challenging call to provide a Christian education to all the children and young people in its care.

Brother Edward Clisby, who has taught in schools throughout New Zealand, Tonga, and Kiribati, researched and translated the correspondence of the pioneering brothers in Oceania, and is currently the archivist and historian for the New Zealand Province, has highlighted many interesting aspects of our Marist brothers’ presence in these countries (Refer to Marist Bulletin 123).

Marist presence in fascinating places

The District of Melanesia is comprised of four countries: Papua New Guinea (178,260 sq. mi., population of 5,000,000), The Solomon Islands (11,500 sq. mi., population 478,000), New Caledonia (7367 sq. mi., population 225,000), and Vanuatu (5700 sq. mi., population 207,000). This Marist District was established in December 8, 2003 and belongs to the Administrative Unit of Sydney. It has 64 brothers in 11 communities. The District Superior is Brother Brendan Neily.

As with all the lands of the Central and South Pacific, these islands are breathtaking in their natural beauty. Presenting the Good News of Jesus within the process of inculturation presents quite a challenge in this mosaic of cultures and languages. Educating children and young people, especially those in greatest need, is a Marist priority.

Marist vocations today in Oceania

Marcellin, whose heart knew no bounds, wound up saying that “every diocese in the world figures in our plans.” Time is confirming his vision. All over the world more and more young people are tuning in to his spirituality (being with Jesus as Mary was, i.e., in His company, listening to His Word and putting it into practice, being practical and ready to help, alert to people’s needs, committed in solidarity with those subjected to modern-day crosses) and to His mission (“I cannot see a child without telling him how much God loves him and wanting to teach him about our faith”).

In recent weeks, Brothers Antonio Ramalho, General Councilor, and Ernesto Sánchez, Secretary of the Religious Life Commission, have visited the Interprovincial Pre-Novitiate in Fitzroy, Melbourne (one aspirant and one postulant), and the Pre-Novitiates in Honiara, Solomon Islands (10 postulants) and Wewak, Papua New Guinea (16 postulants, not counting the 7 who are living in communities). They have also visited the Novitiate in Lomeri in Fiji, which has 14 Pacific Islander novices who are preparing to enter fully into our Marist life.

These young men testify to the fact that the Lord continues sending out invitations and Marcellin’s dream is as vivid as ever.

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