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The Grove Community

07/12/2006: New Zealand

In January 2001 a new and different type of community was established in Lower Hutt, a separate city more or less next to New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. It was a young adult community, comprising Brothers, young men and young women. It was called “The Grove” because it was at 2 Damian Grove – and young adults like names for places and things (houses, cars, dolls, along with nicknames for one another). Two Brothers had been invited to establish what is now known as the Marist Young Adult Ministry (MYAM).

While numbers have varied over the six years of its existence, it seems that the best arrangement is to have 2 Brothers, 2 young men and 3 young women since this helps maintain a reasonable gender balance.

The aims of the community are clearcut:

• To give young adults an experience of living Christian community.
• To base the spiritual elements of the community on Gospel and Marist values and show how these carry over into everyday living.
• To encourage the young adults to become involved in some sort of outreach, probably to disadvantaged youth, at the same time as they continue their own studies or work.
• To provide a centre which offers hospitality and welcome to other young adults.
• To foster an outreach to young adults who find they have moved away from the institutional Church but who are, nevertheless, people with spiritual needs and aspirations
• To develop a spirituality that is truly apostolic and real in today’s world.
• To foster the charism of St Marcellin in the lives of the community members.

The community has become well known in young adult circles in both Lower Hutt and Wellington, with the community members taking part in young adult activities such as monthly Masses and religious discussions, retreats, university gatherings and functions, as well as hosting social functions at The Grove.

A quarterly newsletter, “MYAM Notes”, is sent to young adults throughout New Zealand as well as to schools with a Marist tradition, parishes, diocesan young adult offices and interested adults.

A weekly email, “MYAM-email”, is sent to about 200 young adults and Brothers and other interested adults. This is a brief reflective message which appears to be appreciated by the recipients.

It has proved difficult to organise consistent outreach initiatives on a community basis. Some members have been quite regularly involved with a L’Arche-type group on a monthly basis and others have helped elderly people in and around their homes. Mentoring at a nearby Marist-tradition school has been investigated and while it nearly became a reality it is still in the realm of a good idea. Finding the time in a busy work or study schedule has consistently proved difficult. But where there is a will, there is a way, and maybe 2007 will be the year of a Champagnat community outreach.

The young adults live in The Grove for a year and then move on. They pay weekly rent, take their turn cooking and preparing the evening prayer, assist in the housework and general maintenance of the grounds. When they move on, it is with a sense of identifying as “Marist” and proudly bear the title of “Grovite”, indicating that they have lived at The Grove.

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