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Marist Solidarity Campaign 2006

01/03/2006: Australia

The traditional launch of the Marist Solidarity Campaign in about 50 Australian schools will begin on Ash Wednesday. This year they will take up the challenge that there is “Room for All” in this world of ours with the further action plan to ”Get Into It” - a phrase well understood by Australian students as a call to DO SOMETHING.

Schools have received a simple campaign kit comprised of posters for each class, bookmarks for each student and a variety of resource materials including lesson idea, liturgies, simulation games, Tsunami Appeal reports and outlines of projects sponsored by Marist Solidarity Australia the lead agency which incorporated MAPS (Sydney Province) and MSO (Melbourne Province) There is also a Campaign Project entitle “Project Zero” which awards schools for an action or creative initiative in there schools to promote Solidarity. All this can be downloaded fro www.maristoz.edu.au/maps

The result of such a campaign has in past years has, at one level, provided the necessary seed funding for the support of projects in Marist associated ministries in the Pacific and Asia. Many of these projects are co-financed by agencies and NGOs from both Australia and Internationally. When planning and implementing International cooperation BIS acts as our lead agency ‘ad gentes’ so that there be no confusion among European, American and Asian NGOs about the identity of St Marcellin’s Marists.

At another level, the Campaign raises a consciousness and awareness of the development needs in the region of Oceania and Asia. This is reinforced by many schools engaging in Immersion Experiences (Marist Ambassadors) in these countries both at the school and post-school level. About 12 Marist schools will this year, send forth ambassadors to overseas Marist schools and projects under the banner of Marist Solidarity Australia. At the post school level young Marists will take up or extended volunteer assignments in Cambodia, Timor, Solomon Islands and Bougainville. They take a ‘Gap Year’ or they incorporate it into their University studies. The unintended outcomes form this program are already beginning to be felt with a heightened interest among young (and some older) Marist in committing themselves to supporting our work at either the local or international level.

At a deeper level again, Marists throughout Australia are beginning to have a familiarity and connection with the work of evangelisation in our region. It would seem that this is another way that they can be church in a practical and down to earth way. The spirituality of servanthood, friendship and solidarity is something that has wide appeal and our Marist way of expressing it has wide appeal among our young people. It si a practical response to the poverty and injustice that sits on our doorstep.

Australia is often seen as a country a long distance from the rest of the world. We have often seen ourselves this way. The Marist Solidarity Campaign is successful at broadening the vision of young Australians, making them aware of their sisters and brothers living on their doorstep and of offering a Christ centred response to the deep divisions and acts of terror reported in our world each day. This campaign will we are sure convince young Australians that there is, indeed, “Room for All” and in their own way they will engage in some activity which allows them to “Get into It”

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