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Oceania Community Leaders’ Conference

13/04/2011: Australia

Certainly the largest gathering of Community Leaders.  They gathered at Mittagong in Australia for a three day conference hosted by the Brotherhood Commission of the Oceania Council. There were sixty three community leaders from the Provinces of Melbourne (15), New Zealand (23) and Sydney (25) together with their Provincials and the members of the organising committee.

The focus of the Conference was fostering brotherhood across the Oceania Region and how to be leader in a modern religious community.  As well as input the participants drew on their personal and Marist spirituality as well as sharing the experience of being a Community Leader.  This was a rich sharing given the range of different styles of Marist community across the region today.

The setting at Mittagong was ideal and the refurbished facilities and hospitality encouraged conversation and sharing. The opening presentation– With Mary – was thought provoking and related to the outcomes of the General Chapter.  It laid the groundwork for the presentations and reflections of the next two days. Other speakers addressed the issues of Leading Healthy Religious Communities today; Brothers and Lay Together; Moving forward with hope; and New Lands.

The conference concluded with the three Provincials leading a reflection on the conference experience and then taking up the theme of New Lands. They worked with the Brothers on carrying forward the decision of the Provincial Chapters of each Province to move towards new structures for the Oceania region within the next two to three years.

All those gathered spoke positively of the felt experience of unity and purpose about what is emerging for Marist life and mission in this part of the world.  There is a wealth of experience and wisdom in the community leaders of the region – indeed we are blessed.  The conference was also an opportunity for many inter-province friendships to be renewed and new connections made.  There is now a shared understanding of what lies ahead and an eagerness to see the new relationships and supportive structures put in place.

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