FOUNDATION IN AUSTRALIA 1827
FIRST FOUR MARIST BROTHERS
|Plaque in Harrington Street, Sydney|
The opening and celebratory function .... was held at one of our better monasteries at Lisson Grove Hawthorn, where the only means of keeping foodstuffs was a small ice chest (no refrigerator) and hence no place to chill the wine and beer. Oliver Clark sallied forth and carried the ice in a chaff bag on his shoulder up the long hill. The melting ice and hessian fibres left Oliver in a somewhat bedraggled state, but like many times hence, he saved the day. The meal was hearty if somewhat calorie laden, the catering was good and the wine warmed their hearts, despite the confusion when the labels became unstuck and they weren't sure whether they were pouring Chablis or Sauterne.
Right from the early days of the Province we have been working on the margins and overcoming the tyranny of distance in Australia. Formation needs of the Brothers were (to our peril) put aside as waves of Brothers fresh from the Novitiate, filled the gapes in the classrooms and dormitories in those schools dotted around the countryside. In 1948, seven of the fourteen schools were Boarding Schools.
By 1989, all but four Brothers had spent some time working in a boarding school, teaching all day, supervising study and dining rooms, coaching teams and looking after dormitories. Free periods and "days off" were years away as Brothers expended their young energies in many different tasks. There was little time for inital and ongoing formation and no opportunities for study and further education.
The Province began involving lay teachers in all our schools very early in its history and set in train from the start a wonderful tradition of partnerships and friendships with lay people. For example, in 1958 there were more lay staff members at Preston than Brothers. .... We began appointing lay principals, with Ken Taylor at Warragul being the first.
A RENEWED UNDERSTANDING OF OUR MARIST CHARISM
Vatican 11's encouragement to return to the charism of the Founders created the impetus for a closer look at St Marcellin. .... But Champagnat isn't the only dimension of our charism. We follow Jesus in the manner of Mary. As we became more aware of Jesus' humanity and his sharing our human condition, so too, did we become more aware of Mary:- not so much as crowned in glory, but as a woman with dust on her feet and sharing our humanity; a woman of faith who travelled a road that was often hard and whose spiritual journey had much in common with ours.
THE CHARISM IN OUR MINISTRY
.... In 1981 .... We invited Fr Gerry Holohan, now Bishop, to help reflect on charism. .... "Don't worry about the 80's! Just focus on remaining faithful to the charism of which you are the current custodians on behalf of the pilgrim church."
Well the custodians did their job well. REMAR, with its particular Marist character, became a central part of many of our schools, as a way of promoting faith among motivated students. John McMahon led the way in stimulating reflection on the charism in schools, instituting pilgrimages and ensuring that the charism went beyond principals to school community and staffs.
This charism is alive and well today and a new wave of custodians in Lay Marists have joined with the Brothers in ensuring that the Marist character is evident in our schools and all our ministries and undertakings.
By 1958, it was time to stop the flow of Brothers from the Novitiate into the schools and to provide a more rigorous and academic formation. Responding to the insistent urgings of Br Ronald Fogarty, we established a programme of creditable teacher training and university studies in Dundas NSW, and later at Marist University College Clayton. By 1978, however, we moved away from big groups of Brothers in formation, to a much more individualised method. .... Br Eugene Dwyer had returned as a clinical psychologist and began a style of formation which was new to the Province and to the Marist world at that point.
CHARLES HOWARD:- Poverty and Justice, Solidarity
Following the General Chapter of 1976, Br Charles Howard .... began a process of making us more aware of poverty, disadvantage and injustice. .... The Ministry to our aboriginal people in Central Australia began, summer holidays were spent in outback communities, cystic fibrosis camps and asthma camps began with Ambrose Kelly, soup kitchens and St Vincent de Paul groups developed. Santa Teresa, Milikapiti, Alice Springs saw us sitting down with aboriginal people accompanying them in the journey and learning from them.
RELIGIOUS LIFE THROUGH THE PERIOD
Up until Vatican 11, we were formed in the "church triumphant" and, like many others, we were ill-prepared for the profound changes in the world and in the Church. .... The windows of change were thrown open and a wonderful breeze of freedom touched us. It was a liberating time, full of wonder as we experimented with our new found freedom. ....
Catechetics became a battleground as the publication "Come Alive" co-authored by Br Michael Donnelly hit the school desks and the pedagogy of human experience as a basis of reflecting on God and Revelation was questioned and challenged. There was indeed "blood on the saddle" as Maurie Bambridge was wont to sing at particularly tense times. ....
Our common thread and strength throughout our history has been our communities which have shown extraordinary internal solidarity and good common sense. Our communities have been a particularly healthy source of vitality and energy.
LEADERSHIP AND ADMINISTRATION
It's been a wonderful journey, quite literally a journey of a lifetime. It was made possible by wise and sensible leadership by provincials and councils throughout these 65 years. Rex Cambrey was appointed as Business Manager 22 years ago. He invested wisely and .... he has been able to develop our property at Australind in Western Australia is such a way as to provide that financial security so necessary for our Mission.
As we briefly reflect on our history and journey as a Province, we think of the role that we, as individuals, played in it. Each of us has memories and stories, of exhilaration, of pain, of triumph and disappointment. The historical record is scant; but each of us holds some piece of it in our hearts. ...
The challenges continue, externally as you would be aware from the media and government scrutiny and internally from ageing. But we are unafraid. The Spirit has been with us throughout our history and will be with us as we move into the future. ....
We have come to the conclusion of the Melbourne Chapter of Marist History. We turn the page to the Australian Chapter. .... May God who has been with us over many wonderful years continue with us on our daring journey to the new land of the Province of Australia.
[posted January 2013]
Basilica of Fouviere (Lyon) with the Lady Chapel on the right where there is a plaque commemorating the founding of the Marist order by Champagnat.
|Original Brothers' house|
lowest building centre right
|Parish church of La Valla|
|FIRST PROVINCIAL: BR PLACIDUS REDDEN 1948-55|
|SECOND PROVINCIAL: BR DAMIAN WILLIS 1956-58|
|FOURTH PROVINCIAL; BR BERTINUS FEEHAN 1964-71|
|THIRD PROVINCIAL: BR DONALD GROGAN 1959-64|
|SIXTH PROVINCIAL: BR WLATER SMITH 1977-83|
|FIFTH PROVINCIAL: BR CLETUS REID 1971-77|
|EIGHTH /LAST PROVINCIAL: BR JULIAN CASEY |
1989 - 95 AND 2007 - 12
|SEVENTH PROVINCIAL: BR DESMOND CROWE 1983-89|
|TENTH PROVINCIAL: BR PAUL GILCHRIST 2002 - 07|
|NINETH PROVINCIAL: BR JAMES JOLLEY 1995-2001|
- Br Des Howard (Drusilla 63) : information and proof reading
- Dorothy Weekes, Archivist Melbourne Province Centre: the Provincial portraits.
- Terry O'Brien (Drusilla 49) : La Rosey, Fouviere, La Valla photos
- Br Gerry Rush (Drusilla 52): for assitance in gathering information