Mark Poro

Mark Poro

Mark was born 20 May 1965 in Wanderer Bay, West Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands. His parents, Francis Chanu and Donasiana Kareke had three children: all boys. Mark attended the local primary school and the Tangarare secondary school in the early 1980s.

Brother Ray Arthur, former District Leader, recalls: “I first met Mark towards the late 1980’s when he came to Tenaru and expressed some interest in the Brother’s life. Later I visited his home, the Tangarare Mission. I was doing some vocation work, talking to students in the school and we had a reflection session on the last day. He impressed me greatly. During that time I was able to visit his family in their village and observed the very simple life style he was brought up in and of course witnessed the great value placed on relationships”.

After this Mark attended a “Come and See” programme at Laumanasa House and was accepted into the Postulancy. His Postulant Master, Br Henry Uguni, remembers Mark as a very keen and committed young man, who showed a depth of maturity and common sense. Henry says he was prayerful, community oriented and with a strong sense of dedication to his Marist religious life. These attitudes and values never changed over the course of his Marist life.

From Laumanasa he attended the Novitiate in Lomeri Fiji and took his first vows in 1996. After this he travelled to The Philippines where he completed his post-Novitiate Formation at MAPAC in Manila. He then returned to the Solomons and lived in community and taught Agriculture and Religious Education at St Dominic’s Rural Training Centre at Vanga Point.

From this time two themes ran through Mark’s life as a Marist: Formation and Mission work. For the four years from 2003 to 2006 Mark was the Director of Postulants at Laumanasa. He returned to this position at the start of last year, 2020.

It’s obvious why Mark was selected to work with the young men in Formation. He was an excellent role model and lived what he believed and professed. Br Roger Burke, who with Mark and Henry, comprised the Postulancy staff in the early 2000’s wrote of Mark: “Mark was easy to live and work with. He related well with others, and the young Postulants found him pleasant company and easy to converse with. Standing tall and straight, and blessed with a welcoming, smiling disposition, Mark quickly endeared himself to others, people of all ages. Mark provided a good model of being a Marist Brother for all those he lived with. He showed much friendly respect for his collaborators and for the young Postulants. He saw much value in our daily community prayers and in the celebration of the daily Eucharist. There was never any doubt about that. People liked him for who he was. Testimony to all that was the huge numbers who gathered at St Joseph’s Tenaru Chapel for the Profession of his Final Vows, many coming from long distances, including from his own home village on the far west Coast of the main Island of Guadalcanal. He often spoke with much feeling about his family and home village”.

Mark was never one to refuse a challenge and in late 2006 he volunteered to be part of the Marist Mission ‘Ad Gentes’ programme which entailed taking on missionary work in Asia. Brothers have commented on his willingness to work hard and learn new skills. This is what he had to do many times in his life. In 2007 he found himself in Bangladesh learning the local language. For the next seven years Mark taught English and computers to the students in the tea plantation areas. He was also given responsibility for accompanying young men who were interested in becoming Brothers. Mark had a very good way with young people. Br Simon Serero commented “Kids loved to gather around Mark, talk to him and enjoy the stories he told, and he was very good at making up interesting, engaging stories. There would always be lots of laughter”.

In late 2013 the Leaders of the Ad Gentes project, now known as the Marist District of Asia (MDA), were looking for Brothers to staff the Formation House In The Philippines. Mark was an obvious choice. To help prepare him for this new inter-cultural ministry he participated in an extended Formation Training programme in Italy in 2014. This gave him the opportunity to meet and mix with a broad cross-section of Brothers and visit places he’d only heard about. Justin Golding from Australia, who participated in the course with Mark, remembers visiting Paris with him and while there coming across a former student of Mark’s from Bangladesh, who was then living in Paris. Justin writes: “I was struck by the warmth of their greeting and the way Mark quickly recalled his Bengali. He was a brother who truly embraced the opportunities that came his way”. Like so many others who lived with Mark, Justin says “During that year, he was loved in community. In his own way, he was genuinely caring of others. He didn’t sweat the small stuff, and built relationships across cultures. Whilst, by his own admission, he wasn’t the greatest scholar, the wisdom of his years and experience of Marist life enriched our learning. One of the ‘Happy Gang’ of the community, he was also very social and loved sharing a story or two, always in good humour. He was fun to be around”.

This time was very special for Mark and he returned to Asia with renewed enthusiasm for his role as Formator at the Postulancy in Davao. Once again he made a marked impression on his fellow Brothers and the Postulants, who were mostly from Vietnam and East Timor. Br Paco Garcia, who worked with Mark there, has written fondly of him: “Mark was an excellent formator. He acted with simplicity, was down-to- earth and related easily to everyone. Many people around him were touched by his human spirit. Brothers and lay people appreciated and valued his conversation and his advice. He was a calm and patient person, and never seemed to become upset or disturbed by any problems or the challenging behaviours of others”. One of the Postulants of the time, Ly, who is now a Novice wrote: “I could see that he was always willing to serve other people, especially in forming us to be Marists of Champagnat. He showed me the virtue of simplicity by the way he lived his life in the community. He worked tirelessly in building up the Community”.

After four years in Davao and fourteen years in Asia Mark was very pleased to return to his home country and familiar surroundings at Laumanasa at the end of 2019. Neither he nor any of us could have realised this last appointment in his Marist journey was to be so short. However even in this short period, despite his health problems and the difficulties of COVID-19, he showed real dedication to his role as Formator and Community Leader. He cared deeply for his Brothers and the Novices he was forming.

Brother Henry Uguni, Solomon Islander: “Mark has shown to us what it means to live our lives with perseverance, love and dedication as vowed Marist Brothers. Mark, we miss you. Thank you.  May your soul rest in peace.”


Sumner Herrick...


Hugh Turley...