2011-11-16 ITALY

The Third Age

Manziana is a municipality in the Province of Rome located about forty kilometres northwest of Rome. Its position is elevated about 400 metres above sea level, and therefore it is cool in the autumn months. Approximately 7000 souls inhabit this very old town with no resident tourists. On October 15, Manziana was the destination of fifteen Marist Brothers and five Marianist Brothers who arrived from various parts of the Globe. The Marianists are from the USA while the Marist Brothers come from Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

We are fortunate to have Marist Father Anton Verbraeken as our chaplain. Anton has been an Assistant General, Provincial and missionary in Oceania. More importantly, he brings a wonderful sense of simplicity and celebration to our liturgies in which he is aided by the Marist Manziana team of Brothers: Barry Burns of New Zealand, Antoine Kazindu of Rwanda and Anthony Hunt from Australia. Each of these men has gone out of his way to make us feel welcome and at home.

Our first few days were spent in a process of getting to know one another by listening to the history of each individual taking part in this two-month program. All of us would agree that the story-telling was an integral part of our learning about who we are and where we come from, not only geographically but also from our family backgrounds and Marist and Marianist histories. The varied personal stories and the challenges  encountered in living out our vocation were humbling and inspiring.

Since our arrival, Marist Brother Don Bisson, a Jungian psychologist and spiritual director, flew in from USA to spend four days with us, exploring the psychology of aging. Don’s insights from his years of experience helped each of us to examine and explore the issues related to this significant period of our lives. His insights were invaluable and will assist us in the years ahead.

Fr David Glenday MCCJ has also come to provide us with three days of talks that focus on ‘Religious Life Today’ and ‘Praying in the Third Age.’

We have had visitors.  In our first week Marist Vicar General Joseph McKee and Councilors General, John Klein and Michael De Waas, were with us for a meal. Three Marist Missionary Sisters, Pauline, Lolo and Shiela, who reside at their Generalate a short distance away, also made a brief visit.

There has been a recreational side to our time at Manziana. Our first Sunday together had some of us visiting the main street of the local town of Manziana for the annual Chestnut Festival where we saw the traditional chestnut roast over a roaring fire in the town square, heard bands playing typical Italian music and saw actors entertaining and engaging the crowds by performing tricks as they walked about on stilts.

On two free days members of our group have had the opportunity to visit places such as Rome and Viterbo. An outing together, traveling through the local area, took us to the picturesque town of Anguillara, the castle of Bracciano and the trattoria of Ceri where we had a meal to remember. What a delight it was to be in a bus, following narrow, winding roads, rather than forgettable freeways. From time to time trees reached out to touch us gently as we passed through undulating country, clothed with vineyards, olive groves, vegetable patches and fields lying fallow, waiting for the winter rains to bring to life crops of wheat, oats and barley.

At the end of the month both Marianists and Marists will depart for their places of origin, with the Marists going to France and the Marianists to Bordeaux and Spain. We are all looking forward to this opportunity to return to our foundational roots.


Br Bill McCarthy FMS (Australia) and Br James Norton FMS (USA)
Saturday 29 October, 2011


1.  The Third Age Team:  Barry Burns, Antoine Kazindu, Anthony Hunt.

2. Chaplain:Fr Tonny Verbraeken SM.

3.  Australian Marists:Kelvin Canavan, Gerry Steele, Terry Orrell, Joe Hughes, Bill McCarthy, Don Newton.

4. USA Marists:James Norton, Steve Kappes, Don Bisson (visiting speaker), John Malich, Eladio Gonzalez.

5. USA Marianists:David Murphy, Philip Aaron, David Quigley, Chester Burnog, Lawrence McBride.

6. Sri Lanka Marists:Ephrem Obris, Noel Fonseka.

7. Nigerian Marists:Mike Oruche, Isaac Ali.

8. New Zealand Marist: Doug Dawick


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