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Interview with Br. Tony Leon

08/08/2013: Australia

The International Commission Brothers Today met in Rome from 4 to 11 July. On this occasion, we spoke with some of its members. We present today a conversation with Br Tony Leon, of the Province of Australia.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Tony Leon.  Born in Hong Kong, my family emigrated to Australia when I was five years old. Educated by the Marist brothers since I was in 5th class, I entered the Postulancy in 1981 after training in Hotel Management.  I have been blessed to have worked in Primary and Secondary education, boys and co-ed schools, Day and Boarding schools and I have enjoyed being a Student Coordinator as well as directing Residential Care for youth at risks.  For six years, I was in Vocation and Youth Ministry, which allowed me to travel around my province.  At the moment, I am in the Marist Life Formation team, which faciltates Faith Formation for our many Marist educators throughout the province of Australia.  In 2014, I will team up with Br César Rojas in the Brothers Today Secretariat in Rome.

What does it mean for you to be a brother today?

During my initial formation, many years ago, I was very much inspired by what the brothers do in their ministries:  teaching lessons, coaching sport, conducting youth groups and sharing their time with the wider local communityI wantedto know what I can do and how I can live my life as a Marist brother.

Today, the focus is no longer just on those inspiring brothers, but on the source, their personal relationships with Jesus, who has sustained these faithful heroic men for so long.  What it means for me to be a brother today is to attention to this divine source with others and to know who I can be and how I can live out my life as faithful brother for others

How I do this will depend on how closely I can stay in touch with Jesus, incarnated in every person.

Is the animation of vocations and initial formation an important mission for the Institute? How should we go about doing it, in your opinion?

Being a congregation of consecrated men, we have expressed the strong male spirituality of carrying out the mission of educating the young and disadvantaged with much conviction and with the added dimension of gentleness through our Marial dimension.  Like many men, the brothers love to work hard and can be very focused on our ministry.  At times, we disregard our own health and wellbeing because of the demand  of our work.  Vocation Ministry and Initial Formation are the corporate expressions of our Institute’s wellbeing.  Like St Paul’s metaphor of the Church compared as a body, the ministries of Vocation and Formation work is one part of the Institutes body that is requiring our attention now, for the sake of generativity, in both quantity of the Institute’s vocation and quality in our personal vocation.

How do we do this? 

With the starting point of an honest acknowledgement of our current vulnerability; together with the conviction of faith, that God’s call to our consecrated religious life in the way of Mary is not only relevant today but crucial for the health of the whole Church.  The details of how this is to be done will be dependent on our collective and individual desire for the world to be continually blessed with the Marist gifts, beyond our years.

Almost 200 years from the foundation of the Institute, what are the challenges for the brothers, today ? Are the challenges taken on by Marcellin still relevant?

As long as there is a young person who is affected by poverty of resource, famine of faith, thirst for spirituality and disconnection from community, the longing of St Marcellin’s mission is yet to be realized.

What particular experiences of the brothers of your region could be an example for Institute?

The Australian province enjoys a close relationship between the brothers and the Marist Laity in the way ministries and responsibilities are shared.  There exists Marist councils of brothers, lay men and lay women who govern our school ministries, welfare work, solidarity missions, vocation and youth ministries as well as jointly determine the national need for the future.  The directors of our Marist Spiritual Formation team, Youth Ministry team are lay people.  In Australia, we may not have the crowd of brothers as we once did however it is so much more Marists with the strong number of colleagues who identify themselves Marists.

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