2020-07-30 AUSTRALIA

District of Melanesia formally joins Australian Province

On Monday 20 July an online celebration was held to mark the occasion of the District of Melanesia formally joining the Province of Australia, now formed by communities, schools and ministries in seven countries: Australia, Cambodia, East Timor, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu. Br. Peter Carroll, Provincial of Australia, says the bonds between Melanesia and Australia have always been close, and here bellow he tells us more about this formal union.

In January this year the Superior General, Brother Ernesto Sánchez, announced that the District of Melanesia would be dissolved as a separate administrative unit within the Institute, and be joined to the Province of Australia. This took effect on Monday, 20 July.

It was formalised by means of an ‘online’ prayer and ceremony; a mix of live and recorded pieces. Br Ernesto gave an address, former Provincials and Leaders of the District offered reflections and prayers. The outgoing leader, Br Jean Marie Batick and the incoming leader spoke at the end. The whole commemoration was beautifully crafted around the theme of growing in communion with the Emmaus story threaded throughout. I am most grateful to Tony Leon, Darren Burge and Graham Neist for their careful and creative work for the occasion.

No Marist entity, whether it’s a District or Province, Association or Fraternity, School or social work, lives in a “silo” or a “bubble” as we so often say now. All have a common faith, the same founder, a shared spirituality, tradition and mission. We are all part of the Marist Family of Marcellin Champagnat. The joining together of the District and the Province gives greater clarity and definition to the unity that already exists.

In fact, the bonds between Australia and Melanesia have always been close – from the very beginning of Marist ministry there. While there were Marist Brothers in the Solomon Islands for a short, tragic period from 1847-1852, it was in 1938 that the first Australian Brothers started ministry there. Many Australian Brothers have worked in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands since then. Some have served as leaders of the District of Papua New Guinea-Solomon Islands or, District of Melanesia, as it became more recently. Some have died there – such as Brothers John-William, Justin and Donatus who were executed by the Japanese during World War II.

Brothers from Melanesia have trained and studied in Australia. Brothers have laboured together; taught together, lived and prayed together and made deep and lasting friendships. In more recent years, this has extended to Marist lay women and men.

Since 2003, the District has included New Caledonia and Vanuatu. While the connection between Australia and these countries has not been as direct, our Marist relations are still strong. Interestingly, in early years the Marist Brothers and their works in New Caledonia came under the administration of the Provincial of Australia, until 1899. Our historical ties are close.

This merger means that the Province is one of the most international and intercultural in the Institute. It now includes Brothers, Marists and ministries in Papua New Guinea, the autonomous District of  Bougainville, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, as well as Australia, East Timor and the community and school in Cambodia. We have been blessed and enriched throughout our history, and we are again now at this historic moment.

Change can occur quickly and suddenly, but effective transitions take time. Marists in Australia and Melanesia are entering a new phase of our relationship. It is a journey we will travel together over years. We will learn and grow together. We will continue to walk together in Christ.


Br. Peter Carroll – Provincial of Australia

Malasian Brothers’ communities, schools and ministries

Brothers’ communities

  • New Caledonia: Paita
  • Papua New Guinea: Port Moresby, Madang (House of Studies), Mabiri (Autonomous District of Bougainville)
  • Solomon Islands: Laumanasa House (Formation Centre) Honiara, Vanga Point
  • Vanuatu: Santo

Schools and ministries

  • New Caledonia: Lycée Professionnelle St Marcellin Champagnat, Collège Sainte Marie, Collège Champagnat, Ecole Sacré Cœur.
  • Papua New Guinea: St Joseph’s College and Vocational School Mabiri, Early Childhood Education Centre (Bougainville).
  • Solomon Islands: St Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School Tenaru, St Dominic’s Rural Training Centre, St Marcellin Primary School and Kindergarten, Vanga Point.
  • Vanuatu: Lycée et Collège Technique St Michel, Santo.

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