Marist School Australia – MSA Newsletter

A newsletter for Member Schools of Marist Schools Australia published fortnightly during term time

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From Brother Michael Green

Dear Brothers, Friends and Colleagues

It was expressed so naturally and spontaneously that the significance of it may have been missed.

During a panel session at last week’s wonderful biennial Conference for our Australian Marist Schools, Conor Ashleigh recounted a little conversation he had had recently while on assignment in Central Africa. A priest, intrigued by Conor’s European ethnicity and his presence in a poor and otherwise entirely African location, had asked him if perhaps he was a member of a religious order. Conor replied simply, “I’m with the Marist community”.

It said little but it said everything. What a profound expression of the new Marist reality, one that is developing a broader sense of communion, identity, and belonging as each year goes by. During the same session, Joe McCarthy challenged us to see ourselves – we Marists – as an ecclesial movement: a faith community in the Church that is inclusive of a broad range of Christian men and women – younger and older, men and women, lay and religious and clergy – who are committed to St Marcellin’s way of Marist spirituality, community and ministry. Above all else, the Conference was a representative expression of that.

If we are an ecclesial faith community, then we need to gather. Not virtually or conceptually, but in flesh and blood. We need to be community. We did that in Cairns, and the hope is that the several people from each school who were there – principals, leaders and future leaders – are now able to take the spirit of the event back to the more than fifty Marist school communities around the country.

It was such a privilege for us to have the successor of Marcellin – our Superior General, Brother Emili Turú – in our midst!

Brother Emili was engaging, inspiring and challenging in his invitation to us to put on Marian aprons (both literally and figuratively) in order to serve one another, to create the disposition of Marian interiority, and to build Marian-style community. So, also the other key presenters – Provincial Brother Jeff Crowe, Scripture scholar Sister Michele Connolly, and Catholic educational leader Dr Paul Sharkey – and all of the other session and workshop leaders and liturgy animators created for us a rich experience.

Brother Emili proposed to us that if we are to be the “Church of the Apron”, then we need to position ourselves as did Jesus in the act of washing the feet at the Last Supper – that is, below. The servant looks up rather than down at those he or she is serving and, in doing so, is able to have a better sense of their world view, is more able to walk in their shoes. Perhaps it’s a little unfair and naughty, but I found myself contrasting such an image with another that I had seen just two days beforehand: rows of mitred bishops perched on an elevated sanctuary disconnectedly high above the throng of three million young people on Copacabana Beach. What a difference it would have been had each of the shepherds been physically seated down on the sand, each among his flock. But the liturgists would have never been able to deal with that concept! (But I am unkind: I know that more than a few of these same bishops were indeed in the midst of their diocesan groups during the prayer vigil the previous night.)

We Marists are called to personify the Marian dimension of the Church – the one that many ecclesiologists would describe as its primary orientation. It’s down on the sand, in the midst of the young, where we Marists are most at home.

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Foto gallery – Australian Marist Schools Conference


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