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Interview with Br. Peter Rodney

01/09/2013: Philippines

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 Peter Rodney, from the Province of Australia, originally from the city of Brisbane. His current ministry is leading the Scholasticate for the Asia – Pacific region (MAPAC) which is located in Manila, Philippines.

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

There are many elements to this, so maybe only to identify a few of the more significant. For me it means being a Brother in a Marial-way. I am encouraged by all that Br.Emili has envisioned for us in his first circular: to be the Marian face of the Church. In practice I think it is about the prophetic witness that we live: the Champagnat characteristics of strength and gentleness, lived out with commitment and joy. It is about having a spirituality of discernment: experiencing God at work in everyday life (being a mystic). Finally, since we are an international congregation, it is about having the heart of a missionary.

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

I guess the answer is obvious to us all. Initial Formation is a fundamental mission. Upon its effectiveness rests the existence of the charism.  But more than survival, it is about a vibrant, life-giving, dynamic, ever-adaptable charism. The future of the Institute is in shared mission. Without the vocations of both Lay Marists and Brother, both flourishing together, we shall be like a “sickly plant” – alive but well less what it could be.

How to go about it? Whole books (including our Formation Guide) have been written on that question, so how to answer it simply? It is providing the best possible processes that accompany the discernment and development of the vocational identity of the individual person. The detail of these processes is quite comprehensive and integrated. Our Commission meeting stressed that solid accompaniment was essential at all stages. Suffice to stress that the heart of it all is a maturing personal relationship with Jesus.

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?

Sometimes I wonder whether some terms that are common to us have lost their vitality through overuse. I believe that familiar terms such as reading the signs of the times and the Montagne’s of today still contain an essential message for us. Maybe the Montagne story captures all that is still very relevant for us: going to where young people are, encountering their ‘poverty’, responding to real needs with a commitment to practical action that is creative and simple, carried out by a Marist community.  And it is all discerned and sustained through the eyes of faith. 

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

I can speak more for the experiences of the brothers of our large community here at MAPAC than for the region. Each of us has been challenged, stretched, and grown by being an international community. It requires of us a respect for differences, a willingness to put aside one’s own ways and viewpoints, again and again to be open to others, to accept that mistakes get made and that we need to ask for and offer forgiveness, and to allow our own culture to be assessed by Gospel values. The future of Marist life and mission is clearly internationally interconnected and vibrantly cross-cultural.  Maybe in our own small way: we are what the Institute will be. 

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