2022-11-21 VANUATU

Marist presence in Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a Melanesian country in Oceania and comprises about 80 islands. Marist Fathers first arrived in Vanuatu in 1887. Some years later, the Brothers opened a school in Port Vila in 1905. Due to a number of factors, it closed after only 8 years. The Brothers returned in 1991 to conduct a vocational centre, the St Martin De Porres Centre at Lololima. This was staffed by Brothers from New Caledonia, mostly French. They withdrew in 2010.

Currently, four Brothers comprise the community at Espiritu Santo (or just Santo). Three are born in Vanuatu and one is a Solomon Islander. The Brothers’ House is located at ‘Lycee et College Technique St Michel’, which is a diocesan school. The Brothers are involved in teaching, both in the academic and technical sections, administration, boarding and the school development projects. In 2020 the savagery of Cyclone Harold destroyed much of the school and the Brothers’ house. With the assistance of AMS and the Province the school has been repaired and rebuilt, and a new Brothers’ house constructed.

‘Lycee et College Technique St Michel’ is a co-educational school and technical college from Years 7 to 12 governed by the Diocese. It has both academic and technical strands. The Technical section helps students develop their skills so they can find employment in fields such as joinery, mechanics, cooking, hospitality, sewing and housekeeping.

It is important to remember that the necrology of Oceania Marist Province shows that more than 60 Marist missionaries, now deceased, worked in the Region of Vanuatu.

A Marist group exists with the name Champagnat Marist Family. It consists of Brothers, teachers and students. Now 15 teachers and over 60 students, boys and girls, are involved. The purpose of the group is to deepen the Marist Spirit and strengthen spiritual awareness and life within the school. The group also does outreach work with the sick in the parish and the nearby local communities. It gathers for prayer and helps animate Masses in the Parish.

 

Background

The Vanuatu’s largest island is Santo which the first Europeans, Portuguese, visited in 1606. In the 1880’s both France and the UK claimed parts of the archipelago and in 1906 they agreed to jointly govern it as the New Hebrides. After World War II an independence movement developed, and the Republic of Vanuatu was founded in 1980.

The twin influences of the English and French languages remain very significant still today, both in civic society and in the Churches of Vanuatu. The people of Vanuatu are referred to as Ni-Vanuatu or Vanuatuan. Vanuatu’s motto is: “Long God Yumi Stanap” (bishlemar) – “In God let us stand Tall”.

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