Marist community encouraged to Listen to the Spirit, and “shine among them like stars in the sky”

01 Sep 2022

By Jamie O'Brien

Members of the Marist Association of St Marcellin Champagnat gather on the steps of Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney for their third National Assembly. Photo: Supplied.

Leader of the Association of Saint Marcellin Champagnat and Provincial of the Australian Marist Province, Brother Peter Carroll, has last weekend told fellow lay community members they need to create, maintain, deepen and enrich the sense of community.

“Which is so important to Church, to Marists and this Association,” he said, encouraging those assembled to be “imaginative and to dream together”.

Br Carroll was speaking at the opening of the 2022 National Assembly of the Marist Association of St Marcellin Champagnat, which took place at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney, Friday 26 to Sunday 28 August with some 200 delegates attending in person and online.

The weekend gathering marked the end point of the 2022 National Assembly, following two online forums in June and July.

A desire to be inclusive and the uncertainty of COVID restrictions gave rise to the hybrid approach and a process resembling the Plenary Council, aiming for broad participation across Australia.

Marist Brother Peter Carroll, Leader of the Association of Saint Marcellin Champagnat and Provincial of the Australian Marist Province, encouraged participants to be imaginative and dream. Photo: Supplied.

Welcoming participants via video, President of the Australian Catholic Bishop’s Conference and Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, affirmed the contribution of the Marist Association.

“As the Association, you are a vital part of the spiritual family that underpins this great work,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“You also bring a wonderful Marist presence to the Church and to the world through your spirituality and sense of community.

“The Marists Brothers and lay community have made and continue to make, a huge contribution to the broader Australian Church. This is done through the schools and many other ministries,” he said.

Participants gather in a hybrid environment of online and in-person activities, discussions and prayer. Photo: Supplied.

Archbishop Costelloe continued saying that the National Assembly is a precious opportunity to be present to the promptings of the Spirit in and through each other, as well as through prayer and hearing the Word of God.

“It is a time to listen, discern and celebrate – whether you are participating in person or online. As such, it is a great demonstration of the synodal process to which Pope Francis is calling us as Church,” he said.

Some voices of vitality in the Marist Association of St Marcellin Champagnat. Photo: Supplied.

Participants were challenged by Brother David Hall FMS to consider the full context of the scripture chosen for the National Assembly from Philippians 2:15 and spoke of the current fragility of the world and the discipline of hope which is a “practice of ‘holding’ vulnerable desires, in communion with others”.

Across the three months of gatherings, participants identified, discussed and distilled many topics which included the promotion of an inclusive Association, listening to the voice of young people, caring for and forming those on the margins, responding to the Plenary Council outcomes and discerning how the Association can contribute to their realisation.

The Assembly was blessed with the presence and contributions of committed young Marists whose witness and example were inspirational. Photo: Supplied.

Other topics included exploring pathways of formation, engaging families in their spiritual journey and engendering a vision for an ecology of the heart.

By the close of the gathering, participants had identified the following areas of emerging life and energy: inclusion and belonging; being game changers in the Church; forming for life and sustainability and stewardship.

The Marist Association will further develop these priorities and create pathways for implementation across all Marist ministries and local groups.