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New Marist Province : 8 December 2012

05/12/2012: Australia

December 8th 2012, feast of the Immaculate Conception, has been chosen for the announcement of the « birth » of the new Province of Australia, emerging from the fusion of the two Provinces of Melbourne and Sydney. The fact, important in itself, well deserves recalling some historic data as a  souvenir for the Marists

Origin of the Province of Australia: 05/07/1903

The first Marist foundation in Australia was at St. Patrick’s in Sydney in 1872. In 1903 the Holy See definitively approved the Constitutions of the Institute of the Marist Brothers. At the same date it was decided to erect 11 new Marist Provinces – one of them Australia – and to appoint their respective Provincials. The first  Provincial of Australia was Br Stanislaus Healy. The new province comprised Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa.

Division of the Province of Australia: 01/01/1948

After New Zealand and the Pacific Islands became a province of their own in 1917, continuing development in Australia led to the Province being divided into two. This decision was taken by the Superior General and his Council on 7 October 1947 but did not come into effect until the following year. The two  Provinces took respectively the names of :

· Northern Australia (1947), N.S.W (1950), and Sydney (1951)
· Victoria (1947) and Melbourne (1951)

Steps in the restructuring of the new Province of Australia

The process took many years of reflection and study. In 2005 the process of reconfiguring the Provinces and Districts of Oceania was launched.

In December 2010, the delegates of the Oceania Region met at St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, Australia, to take part in the common Provincial Chapters of Sydney, Melbourne, New Zealand and the District of Melanesia. Br Emili Turú, Superior General, and Brothers John Klein and Michael De Waas, General Councillors, were present at this meeting for the process of restructuring the Region.

On 14 October 2011, a group of thirty Marists from all over Australia met at Marist College Pagewood to discuss the progress accomplished towards setting up the new Province of Australia. The group consisted of : the two Provincial Councils, Br John Klein representing the General Council, the presidents of each of the national committees and groups working on the programme of the new Province, and the leaders of the principal sectors of ministry of the existing  Provinces. On this occasion, a proposed organizational chart of Australia was drawn up and discussed and accepted. After this day, the two Provincial Councils went to Mittagong for a planning meeting conducted by Br John Klein.

In January 2012, 180 Marist Brothers from all over Australia gathered at St Joseph´s College, Hunters Hill, to discuss their future, while the process to form a single Province in December the same year followed its course. At present there are 170 Brothers in the Province of Sydney and 80 in the  Melbourne one. Following the formation of the new Province, the Brothers intend to share the administration between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The Provincial of Sydney, Br Jeff Crowe, has said that to become a single Province was “the natural step” for entering into the XXIcentury.

“There are many aspects of our life as Brothers in Australia that are common,” he said. “In some ways it has been a natural progression being Brothers together in the one country. “Of course, there are the practical things of ministries, especially schools and education systems, where the national character is becoming so significant. So that’s a step forward.”

On 8 June the two Councils of Sydney and Melbourne met to analyse the Brothers’ proposals for the name of the new Province. They have decided to call it the « Province of Australia », the name proposed by the Superior General and his Council.

On 14 June, Br Emili Turú and his Council appointed Br Jeffrey Crowe Provincial of the new Province of Australia for a period of three years.

A provisional Mission Council composed of Brothers and laity was set up in 2011. In August 2012, a  Mission Assembly was held in Mittagong, Australia, in which a representative group of 25 Brothers and 45 lay Marists took part, with Br John Klein GC in attendance. The objective of the Assembly was to identify the principal priorities for mission in the new Province.

The restructuring agreements will culminate in the proclamation of the new Province on 8 December, feast of the Immaculate Conception. It will be a return to the original name of « Province of Australia ». The new Province was erected juridically by a decree of the Superior General.

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