Marist Brothers opt for the margins

The Marist  Brothers in Australia, Melanesia and the Pacific are heeding a call for their ministry to spread to people on the margins of society.

The Brothers’ Melanesia district covers Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Bougainville, and the Pacific district includes New Zealand, Samoa and Kiribati.

Almost 50 Brothers attended a gathering at Marist College Ashgrove, in Brisbane, from January 11-13, to consider the challenges and opportunities facing them in the Oceania region.

Pacific district provincial Br David McDonald said Br Turu, the order’s superior general, in raising the need to reach out to the margins, had asked the Brothers: “If not you, then who? And if not now, then when?”

“And I think those are very pertinent questions for the Brothers,” Br McDonald said.

“That’s uppermost in my mind.

“I keep saying to them, ‘I know the answers to those questions – of course it’s you and of course it’s now’. “But they need to come to that realisation themselves as well.”

“I think the reality for the Brothers is that we have always been very strongly associated with the schools,” said Australian provincial Br Peter Carroll

But we’re at a point now where we have very fine schools transmitting faith and teaching in the Catholic tradition, and the Brothers have contributed markedly to that in centuries previous but that’s not where the need is now, so much.”

“It can still be, and we still have Brothers in schools and they have particular gifts in terms of leadership and teaching, and we’re not looking necessarily at moving them out of that.”

“We’re also aware that the need is probably less institutional now and more community-based and hopefully more allied with local parish communities so that there’s a witness value which the Brothers give to the place where they minister but also to the local Catholic community.”

“And I think it’s very likely that we will be looking at more opportunities to move into non-institutional, community-based works.”

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