January 2012 news
This page: From faraway places     Oceania regionals meet     Chapter preparations      Joy in believing    Passing of Br Charles Howard     KNU, Burmese government reach agreement    Fifteen days with Fr Colin     Bringing justice to the women of Burma       Rome & Home     Kate returns to the Mekong    Orientation for Oceania's new leadership    Refugee celebration of Marist spirit     Fr Tony & hot cross buns     Santa from Down Under     Seasonal slump?     Images of Mary

From faraway places

We welcome three international Marists to the Province: Br Sefo Logayau SM, Fr Paddy Stanley SM and Fr Gavin Foster SM.

Br Sefo (Bomana, PNG) and Fr Paddy (Dundalk, Ireland) will soon begin 6-month programs at 'Marymount', Castle Hill, NSW, while Fr Gavin (Philippines Mission District) pauses in Sydney en route to NZ for a well-earned break.



Pacific 'PARM' - new leadership gathering

Regional superiors of the Oceania Marist Province met recently in Suva with their new provincial, Australian Fr Ben McKenna.

The meeting ('Provincial & Regionals Meeting' - PARM) differs from the combined regionals and formators gathering of past years and focused on a wide range of leadership issues facing the Pacific province.

Pictured, back row: Regional superiors Frs Suni Halapio (Tonga), Milio Vakasirovoka (Vanuatu), Emiliano Lasaqa (Fji), Michael Tondikop (Bougainville), Francois Grossin (New Caledonia), Lutoviko Manu (Samoa) and Julio Aihunu (Solomon Is.)
Front: Provincial leadership team: Frs Pio Waqavotuwale, Susitino Sionepoe, Ben McKenna and Setefano Mataele.

                 Pre-Chapter committee  /  JPIC committee

Chapter preparations

Two groups met in Hunters Hill this week preparing for the Provincial Chapter of Australian Marist Fathers to be held in July.

The pre-Chapter committee, responsible for shaping the agenda and processes of the chapter, comprises Frs Paul Mahony, Bob Barber, Peter McMurrich and Tony Kennedy assisted by facilitator, Mr John Honner

Also meeting was the province's Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation committee: Frs Kevin Stewart, Jim Carty, Kevin Bates, Paul Mahony and Ron Nissen. The JPICC is planning agenda items around social action issues in Australia and Asia-Pacific.

joy in believing

Joy in Believing

Following requests from grateful retreatants Marist theologian, Fr John Thornhill SM, has published a series of retreat reflections in book form, 'Joy in Believing'.

In explaining how Vatican II has changed our approach to God, Fr John traces themes from Old and New Testament times to life after Vatican II. Other chapters reflect on the Sacramental mysteries ('the power of the Resurrection in the daily life of the Church') and 'Why does the Church have a worrisome face?'.

The 90-page, easy to read book will be available soon with an official launch in early July.


Passing of Brother Charles Howard FMS

The Marist Family of Australia, indeed throughout the world, notes with sadness the death of Brother Charles Howard FMS.

As a former provincial of the Sydney province of Marist Brothers, Assistant-General and then the first Australian-born Superior-General of the Marist Brothers, Br Charles commanded the love, respect and admiration of all who knew him.

Br Charles, aged 87, died peacefully on Jan 14 at Campbelltown NSW after several years in retirement and an extraordinary Marist life of leadership, brotherly care and educational excellence. His Requiem Mass takes place at St Joseph's College chapel, Hunters, on Jan 24 at 11am, with a webcast on the College web site. Click here for the link.

For more on Br Charles Howard go to the web sites of the Marist Brothers International and Sydney Province.

KNU, Burmese government reach historic agreement

Another report from Fr Kevin Medilo SM in Ranong, Thailand, alerts us to the peace talks at Pa'an, Karen State, Burma. Marists have a special interest through the presence in the KNU delegation of the liaison person for Marist projects amongst refugee Burmese on the border.

Fr Kevin comments: 'Let's pray and hope that this is a significant step leading to reconciliation, justice and economic progress.'

.Go to JPIC for Saw Yan Naing's full report in 'The Irrawaddy'


Fr Drouilly's book released in English  /  French original, 2010

Fifteen days of prayer with Fr Colin

This week Australian Marists will each have their own copy of an important spiritual resource, the English translation by Fr Phil Gage of Fr Francois Drouilly's 'Fifteen days of prayer with Jean-Claude Colin'.

The book recalls Fr Colin's conviction that in order to meet the needs of troubled and discouraged Christians, the Church needed to find a way to present the Good News with a greater sense of compassion and humility. Colin had a wide vision and field of action, sending missionaries as far away as Oceania.

The fifteen days of meditations reflect on the courage and selflessness that imitate the spirit of Mary and that continue to draw people to the Marist life.

Fr François Drouilly
, is a French Marist priest who has worked principally in education and who spent six years as chaplain at the Centre of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes in Nevers. He has written on education and also on Saint Bernadette.


Bringing Justice to the Women of Burma

From the Marist Mission Ranong, Thailand, Fr Kevin Medilo SM alerts us to the plight of women and girls through Burmese military violence in Shan, Kachin and Karen States as reported by the Women's League of Burma..

.Go to JPIC


'Rome & Home': 'SM Bulletin' (Rome)  /  'Oceania Bulletin'

Rome & Home

Following visitation of the Oceania Marist Province in 2010, Superior-General, Fr John Hannan SM, encouraged more communication throughout the widespread mission region. New leader of the Marist Oceania Province, Australian Fr Ben McKenna SM, has taken up the challenge with the 'Rome & Home' initiative.

Each week he emails a copy of the weekly 'SM Bulletin' (from the Marist General Administration team in Rome) along with a new local weekly newspage, the 'Oceania Bulletin'. He calls the mailing 'Rome & Home'.  This week's 'Rome & Home' coincides with the Jan 10 anniversary of the Church's approval for the Marist project in the Pacific in 1836.

The idea of a weekly newsheet was established decades ago by the NZ province with its 'Friday Fax', keeping Kiwi Marists up-to-date on a weekly basis. The Australian Marist province has a monthly 'Provincial Circular', with fax, email and web items as they arise.


Kate Introna / with Sarnelli supporters, Mark, Catherine & Hannah Bennett.

Kate returns to the Mekong

After a few weeks holiday back home Australian nurse, Kate Introna, returns shortly to Sarnelli House, Nongkhai, to resume volunteer work amongst HIV-afflicted children in the north-east of Thailand.

In 2002 Kate went to assist Redemptorist missionary, Fr Mike Shea CSsR, as a volunteer with Marist International Care, a project of the Australian Marist Miission Centre. With extensive experience in palliative care, Kate entered a new world -- of youngsters with HIV. Before long she had quietly transformed the care regime of Sarnelli House with significant improvements in medication and lifestyle.

Kate returned to Australia in 2003 for several more years of nursing before working with the Red Cross in Indonesia in 2007. The following year she returned to Thailand where she has become an invaluable member on Fr Mike's team. She is returning now to Sarnelli for another two-year term.


Leadership team (see below)  /  Orientation facilitating team, from left, Frs Mick Fitzgerald, Larry Hannan and Aisake Casimira.

Orientation for Pacific leadership team

The incoming Provincial Council for Oceania Marist province has completed the first of a series of orientation sessions.

Initial focus was on transition, fears and expectations. Next will be portfolios, vision and Mission.

The new team brings wide experience from ministries including education, parishes, formation, retreats and administration in a range of Pacific countries.


ben mckenna Setefano Mataele Sisitino Sionepoe Pio Waqavotuwale


Oceania Marist Province's new leadership team, from left: Provincial, Fr Ben McKenna (58, Australia), 2nd Assistant, Fr Setefano Mataele (43, Tonga), Vicar-provincial, Fr Susitino Sionepoe (47, Wallis) and 1st Assistant, Fr Pio Waqavotuwale (41, Fiji)     

Refugee celebration of Marist spirit

Celebrations marking 13 years of Marist support for refugee projects on the Thai-Burma border were held in Maera Moo and Mae La Oon refugee camps, Thailand, to herald the New Year.

The event, hosted by Karen leaders, recalled Marist Founder Fr Jean-Claude Colin's openness to take Mary's spirit 'to whatever distant shore'.

Filipino Marists, Fr Lionel Mechavez SM and seminarian Arnold Garferio SM represented the Society of Mary.

Main events of the Marist spirit celebration began at Maera Moo camp's youth hostel supported by Marist Mission Centre Australia since 1999.  After speeches by Karen leaders and Fr Lionel Mechavez, commemorative T-shirts were distributed to the youngsters, followed by games and party dinner and procession to nearby Mae La Oon camp for a closing liturgy







Fr Tony and the hot cross buns

Pastor of the Marist parish of Burnie, Tasmania, Fr Tony Kennedy SM, has won international fame following an archiocsean request for him to comment on early marketing of hot cross buns.

On Jan 05 Tasmanian and national media reacted strongly to Fr Tony's simple plea to take the cross of the buns until their proper time of Easter.

The earliest Christian tradition called for buns with crosses to be baked on Good Friday morning and eaten later that day recalling the death of Jesus.

'I like buns as much as anybody else', said Fr Tony on Channel 7's 'Today Tonight' program, 'but why not take the cross off them at this time of the year?' 67% of poll respondents agree with Fr Tony.          7 News report



Late news (Jan 06):

If you google “Father Tony Kennedy” there are more than 40 articles for the last 2 days... there have been over 150 comments on the Mercury website, 155 on the Herald-Sun site from Melbourne and nearly 250 on the Yahoo 7 news site.  There is a range of comments.

The story was even on the website of such illustrious papers as the Scottish Catholic Observer, the New York Telegraph and the Alburqueree Express and the Maine Mirror!

Fr Tony's final comment: 'It's all very strange'.


Santa from Down Under

Late news from Tomigaoka, Nara Prefecture, Japan: Santa's elves report a visit to the local kindergarten by Father (Paul Glynn) Christmas (pictured)

On a more serious note, Fr Paul reports good progress on the forthcoming documentary movie on Dr Nagai, hero of 'Song for Nagasaki'.

Fr Paul is due back in Australia at the end of this month.


Visitors from 68 countries clicked on to the site in December with leading countries (after Australia) being Japan, Italy, New Zealand, Brazil, Thailand and the Netherlands.

Seasonal slump - or encouraging 'stats'?

If you can't handle statistics, read no further!  Web site figures continue to puzzle, deceive yet bring good news.

From November* to December 2011 monthly 'hits' for the Province web site fell by 32%, yet daily visits dipped by a mere 7% with visitors reading more of the site pages -- a new record of 7 pages per visit. (*a record month for hits)

Comparing 2010 and 2011 is encouraging. Whilst 'hits' (always a dubious indicator) jumped 62%, web visitors doubled the number of pages they perused daily.

Still reading? Check the table below for more of the story (stats. lovers only) ...

  Hits Visits per day Pages per visit
Nov 2011 241,142 217 6.5
Dec 2011 163,994  (32% decrease) 201 7.0
Dec 2010 107,565 174 3.5
Dec 2011 163,994  (53% increase) 201  (15% increase) 7.0 (100% increase)
2010 1,323,842    
2011 2,152,435  (62% increase)    
  Statistic summary for Dec 31, 2011. Updates are made at 4 am local time, so add 5 or 6,000 more hits to December  /  Same page for Jan 01, 2012  

Images of Mary

As ever, our Church welcomes the New Year of Grace by honouring Mary, the Mother of God.

Marists are in touch with many images of Our Blessed Mother, from near and far.

From left: Our Lady of the Southern Cross / Mary & Child -detail of Jean-Claude Colin icon;     Japanese Madonna & Child / Mary & Child, Villa Maria, Hunters Hill, NSW (formerly, Marist novitiate, Armidale, NSW);       Aboriginal Madonna & Child / Our Lady of the Smile - Marian House, Woolwich, NSW;      Our Lady of Medjugorje / Our Lady of the Journey - Takada, Japan (adapted).