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Marist life in Oceania

25/01/2010: Australia

At their meeting with the General Council in Auckland in May 2008, the Provincial and District Councils of the Oceania made a number of commitments for regional cooperation that were published soon afterwards. The Introduction to these commitments states: “We have committed ourselves unambiguously to continuing to work as one in the process of imagining and planning for what may become possible.”

After two years we want to evaluate what has happened and do more “imagining and planning” in relation to our viability and vitality, including “the structures that will be necessary for governance and leadership”.

One of the Commitments was explicitly concerned with “Missioning Together”. It states, “Engaging in Mission as Marists together in this Region will require us to extend our horizons and deepen our relationships across Oceania and will necessarily involve building stronger interpersonal relationships among all Marists in the Region. It will require us to labour, to dialogue and reflect together and so come to a deeper understanding and a new energy about our ministry.”

In late May this year there will be a Regional Assembly. Some 60 Brothers and Lay Marists from across the Oceania region will gather at Mittagong. Their task is to propose:
* How to take the Oceania Commitments forward;
* Next steps for the Oceania Council;
* How we, as a Region, will take forward the work of the 21• st General Chapter.

Also, later this year each of our Provinces is due to have a Provincial Chapter. Melanesia will have their Chapter in 2011. Recently the three Provincial Councils have studied the possibility of holding these Chapters together. Each Council has now endorsed the proposal. The decision is to hold the three Chapters at St Joseph’s College, Sydney, between December 19 and 22, 2010. The final dates are yet to be set. The District Council of Melanesia will attend as observers.

It is a most timely step “in the process of building a vision for our shared future”.

Clearly, having the Chapters together will help us know one another better and grow in our sense of brotherhood across the Region.

The Provincial Chapters come after the Regional Assembly and will benefit from the proposals it develops. Having the Chapters concurrently on the same site with a number of joint sessions will make it possible for us Brothers to consider together any emerging priorities. For example, there is a need for consensus across the Region in relation to our communion with “lay Marists”. This need will grow, particularly after the Oceania Partnership Conference in July this year.

What about the canonical work of each Chapter?

There will be extended time given to each Chapter to allow for separate Council elections, the appropriation of priorities, and conducting any business proper to each Province.
Each Province will arrange for its own Chapter Preparatory Commission and election of delegates as normal.

Brothers, this is an evolutionary step. Some might say it is prophetic and inspired. Certainly it is in line with the spirit of the General Chapter that saw a sense of our internationality as a necessity for Marists in today’s world.

Bulletin of Oceania Council - Volume 6 Issue 1

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