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4 December

Saint John Damascene and John Calabria
1889, opening of the first Marist school in Colombia

Marist Calendar - December

For greater vitality in the Marist region of Oceania



Extended General Council for Oceania (II)

08/05/2008: New Zealand

On the afternoon of May 5 the Extended General Council began with a period of time dedicated to the presentation of those taking part. It was also a time to explain the rhythm and schedule of the meeting, as well as for the practical information.

On the other hand, on May 6, the work of the extended General Council began with a few introductory words from Bro. Seán, recalling the purpose of these meetings and emphasising that it is an exercise in co-responsibility as leaders of the Institute. The expectation, in this specific case, is to try to identify the next steps that should be taken concerning regionalisation and restructuring, and to act accordingly. As concrete challenges for this meeting, Brother Seán has spoken of the need for an attitude of spiritual indifference in carrying out an authentic discernment; of overcoming the desire to control the renewal of the Institute, which is a gift of the Spirit; of overcoming resistance to paying the price for authentic internationality and multiculturalism.

Following this introduction a general vision of the Marist reality in Oceania was presented starting from each of the administrative units.
The second session of the day had as its starting point a letter that Bro. Seán had sent to the Brothers of the region in June of 2007, after a consultation carried out among them concerning the restructuring of the administrative units of Oceania, with a view to greater vitality and viability. The letter gave the Brothers the results of the consultation and finished with the proposal of some specific actions which had been discussed by the provincials and the superior of the district during the General Conference of May 2007 in Rome.

The provincial Councils have had a period of time to be able to evaluate the path followed in relation to the proposals of Bro. Seán, and they have been able to share their expectations and main preoccupations at this time in relation to the topic of regionalisation and restructuring in this Marist area. Next, each one of the Councils, including the General Council, explained to the others the result of their dialogue.
In the assembly it was clear that not all the administrative units have the same understanding of what restructuring means specifically, and that, consequently, the steps taken have been very diverse. The dialogue in the large group has been helpful in clarifying and identifying topics that will be studied in depth within the next few days.

The statistics have reminded us today that in the provinces of Melbourne, New Zealand and Sydney the average age is around 68 years. For that reason this meeting highlights the presence of some younger Brothers coming from the District of Melanesia and a Brother representing Polynesia (part of the province of New Zealand). This is a presence that makes clear two very different realities in Marist Oceania, and should not be ignored in the reflections during these days.
The day ended with a traditional ceremony of welcome, following the Maori customs (Powhiri), for which the Assembly moved to the Hato Petera school. These traditional ceremonies arise from the principle that all people are sacred: on coming as foreigners into this culture, a process should be followed that recognizes this sacred character and opens up the possibility of coming together as a single person to reach shared goals. Another principle is that we do not come alone to this country: each person brings with him his own experience, good and bad, just like the spirits of their predecessors. The process, then, helps to free us of whatever could restrict free interaction among all.

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