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Message from the Brothers at the Assembly and Concurrent Chapters of Oceania

05/01/2011: Australia - Photo gallery

The Oceania Region comprises the four canonical units of Melbourne, New Zealand, Sydney Provinces and the District of Melanesia. It also comprises the countries of Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea (and Bougainville), New Caledonia, New Zealand, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Vanuatu with an outreach community in Cambodia and a shared responsibility for MAPAC in the Philippines. The languages and flags of these nations were included in the opening ceremony. The event took as its theme, “Behold I am doing something new – God with us”. And something new happened! In the final liturgy the Provincials and District Leader formally signed an agreement of intent to create a Province “with a difference”, canonically covering the whole region. (See text below)The Provincials of Australia also signed a complementary statement of their Chapters’ decision to create a new Province in Australia within three years. “At a joint meeting of the delegates, a pathway through these three years was tabled, discussed and agreed upon in general terms. This marks an extraordinary moment in the lives of the Provinces and of Marists in Australia, especially the Brothers. Given the promise of future vitality, it is also a most significant moment for the Institute. Coming from the Chapters, there will be a formal petition to the Superior General and Council to bring this about. We hope that we can all rejoice in this moment at the completion of a long period of wrestling with how best to move forward. “

Message from the Brothers at the Assembly
The delegates from the Provinces of Melbourne, New Zealand and Sydney and the District of Melanesia, meeting this week in Sydney, committed themselves to the establishment of a new governance and canonical structure that will result in a new Province and two Districts for the Oceania region within three years.Oceania has always been significant in the life of our Institute. In 1836, Marcellin chose to send his first missionary Brothers beyond France to Oceania. That was an historic occasion. Down the years generations of Brothers have developed our mission in various countries.Today, 22nd December, 2010, we arrive at another historic moment, some one hundred and seventy four years after our first Brothers stepped ashore on our lands.From 19th to 22nd December, 2010, we assembled as Brothers, both together as one Assembly and in our individual Chapters. We made recommendations and took decisions that will affect the future of all Brothers and Lay Marists in Oceania. This we did, as Brothers, committed to the mission of Jesus and committed to nurturing the faith and education of young people, particularly the most marginalised.We were honoured to have with us our Superior General, Br Emili Turú and our General Councillors, Brs John Klein and Michael de Waas. Seventy two of us from our General Council (3), the District of Melanesia (4), the Provinces of Melbourne (24), New Zealand (17) and Sydney (24) met, discussed, discerned and prayed for what we all believe in so strongly – to liveout together Marcellin’s charism in Oceania today.We adopted a method similar to that used at our last General Chapter, gathering around tables in fraternal dialogue, searching like Mary to understand God’s call at this time for this part of our Marist world. Enthused in having reached consensus, we now move forward, confident in the leadership of our Provincials and District Leader, yet aware of the difficulties that still confront us. Like Mary, we are ready to take the next steps into a new land.Our decisions are the fruits of a long journey for all Marists in Oceania. The reflections and eventual decisions were based on the principles that were first enunciated at the Regional Assembly by our Brothers and Lay Marist companions. The process of our Assembly was driven by a desire to develop ever more strongly the positive relationships among the delegates, reflecting our commitment as brothers.In an historic moment today, driven by our desire and hope for increased vitality and viability, we the delegates, from across all four administrative units, expressed to our Superior General our unanimous commitment as follows: “We the delegates of our Brothers, in a spirit of mutual respect and concern for the wellbeing of each other and the future of Marist life and mission in Oceania, commit ourselves to the establishment of a new governance and canonical structure that will result in a new Province and two Districts for the Oceania region.” In January 2011, our leaders will be gathering in Rome as part of the Provincials’ Meeting. There they will discuss the petition further with the Superior General and his Council. Following approval, the Major Superiors in our Region will plan the necessary steps and timeline to provide a pathway within the next three years. The future shape of the region will emerge in a way which reflects the special character of the four units and the practical implications of living out our new relationship.______________Signed: The Delegates of the Concurrent Chapters22 December 2010
RELATIONSHIPS• Whatever our chosen structures we come together as equal partners on all levels. Our interactions are shaped by a mutual respect and concern for the wellbeing of all as lived out by Marcellin and the first Brothers.MARIST LIFE AND MISSION• This is carried out within the context of the evangelising mission of the Church. It includes thepromotion of Marist life in all its forms (consecrated Marist life and Lay Marist life).• The focus of Marist ministry in Oceania is for children and young people, especially the poor.• It will be driven by all Marists having a shared and clear understanding of Mission and Ministry that has a prophetic edge and that seeks to respond to the contemporary and future needs of thecultures and people of Oceania.CULTURE AND CULTURAL VALUES• We want to be regional in our outlook and in our configuration, while respecting and taking intoaccount the differences in culture, language, identity and traditions.CO-RESPONSIBILITY IN MISSION•Co-responsibility is to be an integral feature between and within Administrative Units.• For implementation to be effective at every level, co-responsibility needs to be defined according to each culture in the region.• Communion between Brothers and Lay Marists, expressed through co-responsibility in decisionmaking, will require effective shared formation programs taking into account the reality of people’s lives.STRUCTURES• The preferred future structure is for one governance structure across the Oceania region working with local entities. This is now a matter of urgency.• The new structure needs to be appropriately resourced to ensure its success and ‘simplicity’ and‘subsidiarity’ should be hallmarks for whatever is decided.RESOURCES• Being realistic about the differing resources and legalities across the region, we undertake to find ways to support each other in mission, ministry, formation and Marist life.PASTORAL CARE• Pastoral care of all Marists is a priority to ensure ongoing vitality and viability.• We desire vital communities that inspire and attract young people and sustain our consecrated lives.

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