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Marist Bulletin - Number 145



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Mittagong, NSW, Australia – 15 May 2004
REGION OF OCEANIA (4th and final Day)


These meetings in Mittagong that drew to a close today have let us take the vibrant pulse of our Marist presence in the Region of Oceania. It’s obvious that the geographical, cultural, and linguistic complexities in this part of the world are both its strong point and its challenge. The challenges in Australia and New Zealand are different from those in the Pacific Island nations. In the former, religious life – and Marist life in particular – is going through a dry and difficult time; in terms of mission, its contributions are highly defined, involving Catholic education, ministry, solidarity, and shared mission with the laity. In the latter countries, Marist presence is having a strong impact on society and presenting the dynamic face of a Church that is generating Marist vocations in ever-greater numbers.

Uluru is the Aboriginal name for a mountain that rises in the center of Australia, in the middle of a desert. The English name for this mountain is Ayer’s Rock. At sunset, it takes on a redness of awesome splendor. Because of this and its location, it is considered to be the heart of the country. To reach it requires going through large stretches of desert. That’s the way it is in many segments of the religious life, as it was during the life and times of Father Champagnat. The Marist brothers in Oceania are realizing that, whether conditions are favorable or not, they want to continue to get at the heart of their commitment as brothers. Marcellin’s dream has great relevance today and it is worthwhile to dedicate one’s life to make it come true.


The brothers in Oceania are becoming more and more conscious of belonging to one and the same Region, with common challenges for those willing to work on them together. There are many effective inter-provincial organizations. Notwithstanding, one sees the need for the three of Provinces of Melbourne, New Zealand and Sydney, and the District of Melanesia to forge new approaches in their efforts to foster the viability and vitality of our Marist life and mission in the Region of Oceania.

The following resolution was approved: “We commit ourselves to move forward within a model of regionalization. We therefore state our willingness to work together collaboratively with others in the region to see what new structures emerge.” To bring this agreement to life, the three Provincials and the District Superior will name a three-member panel exclusively devoted to drawing up a proposal that will lead to the agreed-upon goal.


In a spirit of joy and thanksgiving a community prayer put the finishing touches on this meeting, which brings an end to the visit of our General Superior and his Council to the Region of Oceania. Brother Sean reminded us that the strength of Champagnat’s charism lies in a passionate love for Jesus and service to poor children and young people as members of the Church. He thanked God for the leadership of those who exercise their responsibility AS animators and administrators, as well as for the commitment of the brothers, and the many enthusiastic lay people who share our mission. Brother Seán gave each brother in attendance a small souvenir with a picture of our Good Mother. The final song, “We choose life,” was a resounding hymn of hope and commitment that echoed the concerns and dreams of the last General Chapter. And with this we conclude our real-time chronicles of the meetings held at Mittagong.

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