February 2012 news
This page:     Passing of Fr Michael O'Meeghan     Fire at Umphiem      Sisters return for formation    Provincial Council planning    Beatification prayer in four more languages     Light from our origins     Large print Colin biography and prayer     Ranong mission founder honoured      Aquinas Academy latest newsletter     New provincial councillor     Novitiate positions finalised     Friendly guide to prayer    Fr Gerard Hall's Panikkar videos     Novitiate changes    Funeral of Fr Ron Josephs     Cycling for seminarians     Oceania bulletins online     Vanuatu bishop visits     Passing of Fr Ron Josephs      Colin photo-memories - Le Puy      Colin web site underway    97 not out - Australia's senior Marist priest



Passing of Fr Michael O'Meeghan SM

Members of the Australian Province of Marist Fathers note with sadness the passing of their Kiwi confrere, Fr Mick O'Meeghan, who died in New Zealand on Feb 27 aged 83.

Fr Mick was well known to many Australian Marists through his involvement lecturing in Sacred Scripture at St Peter Chanel's scholasticate, Toongabbie, NSW, (pictured below) in 1972-73. He is remembered through the various ministries of teacher, seminary professor, historian, mission liaison and pastor.

May he rest in peace.


Click here and here for You Tube clips of the Umphiem fire.     

Fire at Umphiem

On Feb 23 a devastating fire swept through Umphiem Mai refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border, haven for 15,000 Burmese Karen refugees.

About a third of the camp's dwellings were destroyed leaving already homeless families in an even more desperate situation.

Marist links with Umphiem go back as far as 1998 (before the camp of Huay Kalok was completely destroyed by Burmese military arson and replaced by Umphiem) when the Marist Mission Centre supported projects for the disabled. MMC also supported projects for the two Catholic communities of the camp. Ranong Marist founder, Fr John Larsen, visited Umphiem in 2003.

Above left: Umphiem refugee residents watch helplessly.    Right: Umphiem camp before the Feb 23 blaze.
The visit of Fr John Larsen SM to Umphiem in 2003.

Newly-professed Marist Sisters,
Srs Celina Gavia SM
and Cathy Sariman SM

Sisters return for formation

Visitors to this web site may recall the arrival in March 2011 of two Marist novices from Kanosia, PNG, Srs Celina Gavia and Cathy Sariman. The young Marists-to-be were then part of the Marist Sisters' novitiate community in Davao, southern Philippines.

Following their first religious profession in November and a short holiday home in PNG, the two sisters have returned to Australia for a further two years of formation. They will be part of the Marist Sisters' community at Haberfield, NSW.

Welcome back, Sisters!


prov ccl

From left: Frs Kevin Stewart, Bob Barber (vicar-provincial), Paul Cooney (provincial),
Gerard Hall and Kevin Bates.

Provincial Council planning

Reviewing their two-year planning for Australian Marists, the provincial leadership team met at Bilgola on Sydney's northern beaches on Feb 20-21.

With two new members, Frs Kevin Stewart and Gerard Hall, the Provincial Council farewelled retiring member, Fr Ray Chapman (who took the photo!)..


Above: Prayer title in Cameroonian Pidgin  /  Hungarian.

Beatification prayer in four more languages

Croatian, Ilonggo (southern Philippines), Hungarian and Cameroonian Pidgin English are the latest translations available for the prayer seeking Fr Jean-Claude Colin's intercession. The prayer is now available in 38 languages.

Go to Fr Founder - Prayers


The cover of 'Light from our origins'  /  Fr John Hannan in Australia last year

'Light from our origins'

Superior-General, Fr John Hannan SM, has written to all Marists urging them to draw deeply from the rich roots of the Society of Mary, especially from the spirituality and vision of their Founder, Fr Jean-Claude Colin.

Fr John describes his circular letter, 'Light from our origins', as 'a meditation and a dream' for Marists and Marist communities worldwide to grow in their passion for Marist life and mission.

Topics in the letters include 'spiritual life', 'community-mission relationship', 'love of the Society - heroic generosity', 'our Founder as a spiritual master', ' the unshakeable cornerstones' and 'to advance further'.

'I want to speak to you brother-to-brother', writes Fr John. 'I want a Society of Mary that gives passion for life... and operates out of the mind and heart of Mary as our first and perpetual superior... where each community is a rich haven from which a vigorous mission flows.'


Fr Colin's Cause: large-print biography and prayer

An easier-to-read short biography and beatification prayer for Fr Colin's Cause is now available.

Download from Fr Founder resources


Fr John Larsen SM  /
the 'Future Justice' medal

Ranong mission founder honoured

In a ceremony at Australian Catholic University's East Melbourne campus on Feb 14, Fr John Larsen SM was awarded the 'Future Justice' International Prize.

NZ-born Fr John has worked for 25 years in the southern Phlippines, Myanmar and Thailand establishing a Marist mission at Ranong, Thailand, amongst Burmese migrant workers. It is this latter ministry in education and HIV health care that has attracted the affirmation of the Melbourne-based, 'Future Justice' group.

During the evening Fr John spoke of the work Marist Mission Ranong before being presented with the Future Justice international award medal. Other speakers were ACU's Dr Duncan MacLaren and Federal Court Justice Susan Kenny who gave first-hand reports of the ACU online studies program on the Thai-Burma border, including the 9 students pursuing the program in Ranong.

Fr John has recently left the Ranong mission to take up the post as leader of the new Marist International Scholasticate community, Via Livorno, in Rome.

Above: Justice Susan Kenny and Fr John Larsen speaking at the 'Future Justice' evening.
Below: Fr John receiving the award.    Dr Duncan MacLaren's presentation.     Online studies pioneer, Fr Michael Smith SJ, and Fr John   /  Dr Duncan MacLaren and Fr John.

Aquinas Academy latest newsletter

Catch-up days, courses and a retreat are amongst the items featured in the February newsletter of the Aquinas Academy.

February Newsletter       Aquinas Academy web site


New provincial councillor announced

Director of the Marist Mission Centre, Fr Kevin Stewart SM, has been elected to the leadership team of the Society of Mary in Australia.

NZ-born Fr Kevin is a veteran of twenty-five years as a missionary in the southern Philippines and has been director of MMC since 2007.

He takes his place on the provincial council next month, replacing retiring councillor, Fr Ray Chapman. Fr Kevin is also a member of the province's JPIC committee (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation).

  Present provincial council, from left: Frs Paul Cooney (provincial), Bob Barber (vicar-provincial), Kevin Bates, Gerard Hall and Ray Chapman.

novitiates ctd
Frs Boniface Kevon  / Chris Skinner

Novitiate positions finalised

Following the announcement of the Marist international novitiate's relocation from Taveuni, Fiji, to Taradale, NZ, two more formator positions are being finalised.

Carterets-born (Bougainville), Fr Boniface Kevon SM, has been proposed to resume his previous post as novice master for the Marist Oceania Province, while composer-singer, Fr Chris Skinner SM, will take on the role of 'socius' (assistant) to the international novice-master, Fr Pat Breeze SM.

See also, below, 'Changes to International and Pacific novitiates'


A friendly guide to prayer

Aquinas Academy director, Fr Michael Whelan SM, has contributed to the 'Friendly Guides' series of John Garratt publications with a valuable resource on prayer.

'In the Catholic tradition of prayer there is a great richness which has been ignored in today's world', says Fr Michael. 'The book will help readers pick up on the contemplative tradition of the Church.'

'A friendly guide to prayer' is not meant to be read from cover to cover in one sitting, Rather, it's attractive sections can be taken in any sequence according to the needs of the reader.

For more information about the book and its availability go the Aquinas Academy web site.


Fr Gerard Hall's Panikkar videos

An interview with ACU's Associate Professor, Gerard Hall SM, and his lectures at Siena's Raimon Panikkar Centre are now available on YouTube.

During sabbatical leave in 2011 Fr Gerard was guest lecturer at 'C.I.R.P.IT' (Italy's Intercultural Centre dedicated to Raimon Panikkar). The centre aims 'to preserve and renew the search after authentical living values such as peace,social justice and spirituality, through "the dialogical dialogue" among traditions' according to the teachings of Raimon Panikkar.

Click here for Fr Gerard Hall's interview with Roberta Cappellini and first lecture in the series.

C.I.R.P.IT's Roberta Cappellini interviews Fr Gerard;   Raimon Panikkar  /  Fr Gerard lecturing at C.I.R.P.IT

Contrasting views from the Pacific's two Marist novitiates

Changes to International and Pacific novitiates

Superior-General, Fr John Hannan SM, and his Council have made changes concerning two Marist novitiate centres in the Pacific.

In a communique from Rome on Feb 08 it was announced that the International novitiate (for novices from Europe and NZ) will be relocated from Taveuni, Fiji, to 'Maryknoll', Taradale, NZ, overlooking the famous 'Mission' vineyards, pioneered by Marists in the last century. The novitiate for Pacifican novices will remain at Tutu, Taveuni, Fiji.

Kiwi, Fr Pat Breeze SM, will be the international novice master, with a socius soon to be appointed. At Tutu, Fr Fritz Arnold SM will be the socius, with the novice master to be announced shortly.



Funeral of Fr Ron Josephs

The life and death of a much-loved Marist was celebrated at Holy Name of Mary church, Hunters Hill, NSW, on Feb 08, as a full church of Marists and laity farewelled Fr Ron Josephs SM.

Over 40 priests and brothers of the Society of Mary led the singing of the 'Salve Regina' as Marist Sisters, Missionary Sisters and Josephites and large numbers of family and friends honoured their confrere, pastor and 'Uncle Ron'.

Along with his profession cross and rosary on the casket lay Fr Ron's bible, worn beyond repair by daily use, notations and markers, evidence of a saintly man's commitment to God's Word, preached over half century with passionate delight in the Lord. May he rest in peace.

  See also below

Cycling for Seminarians

On the saddle for the fifth year in a row to raise funds for the Marist Mission Centre is Br Charlie Randle SM.

MMC director, Fr Kevin Stewart SM, notes that through his annual ride around the byways of Sydney Br Charlie has raised $250,000 since 2008 to assist the training of seminarians and novices throughout the Marist world. Since the start of February Br Charlie has begun to whittle down his 500 Km target for this year's ride.

Donations to 'Cycling for Seminarians' can be made through www.maristmissions.com


Oceania bulletins online

Weekly bulletins from the Oceania Marist Province are now available on the Internet.

Linked to the OMP web site home page the single-page illustrated news sheets give regular updates on happenings in the vast Pacific mission.

Click here


Vanuatu bishop visits

Marist bishop of Port Vila, John Bosco Baremes SM, has visited Sydney recently. He returns to Vanuatu to celebrate the second anniversary of his episcopal ordination of Feb 14.

Bishop Baremes' flock of 45,000 Catholics is served by 28 priests, a third of whom are Marist missionaries. Marist Missionary Sisters and Marist Brothers also work in the diocese.

Hailing from the tiny, flat islands of the Carterets, Bougainville, and noting their rising sea levels and dwindling population, Bishop Baremes remarked, 'My compatriots are the world's first "natural refugees".'


Passing of
Fr Ron Josephs


Marists throughout Australia and beyond were saddened by the death today on Feb 02 at Longueville Hospital, Sydney, of Fr Ron Josephs SM after several months of palliative care and on the 55th anniversary of his profession in the Society of Mary.

Born in 1932 at Miller's Point, Sydney, Ron Josephs was baptised by the legendary Fr Peter Piquet at St Patrick's and educated by the Mercy Sisters and Marist Brothers in Sydney's Rocks district before work in the NSW Education Department and entry to the Marist seminary at Toongabbie.

Ordained in 1962, Fr Ron worked briefly in Marist education before 15 years of parish ministry in 5 States followed by extensive retreat ministry in Australia and the UK and Ireland. He ministered to various spirituality and retirement centres and in more recent years lived in an active semi-retirement in the Marist parish of Burnie, Tas.

He will be remembered fondly by Marists and laity alike for his zealous ministry, deep and enthusiastic spirituality and infectious laughter and song. Rest now in the joy of the Lord, Fr Ron!

Fr Ron's funeral will take place from Holy Name of Mary church, Hunters Hill, Wed, Feb 08, 1.30 pm.


Colin photo-memories of the month

February's photo-memories focus on the town of Le Puy where a young man's miraculous healing led to hearing Mary's call to form Her own Society: 'They shall bear my name... and be known as "Marists".'

Go to Father Founder - Memories


Colin web site underway

Catholic Communications of Sydney Archdiocese have uploaded a holding page announcing the development of a dedicated web site for Marist Founder, Fr Jean-Claude Colin -- www.jeanclaudecolin.org..

The site will offer information and resources promoting the Beatification Cause of Fr Colin.

Expressions of interest in the site can be made by visiting the page: click here


97 not out - Australia's senior Marist priest

On Feb 01, 1915, Walter Fingleton was born. Ninety-seven years, Fr Wally is still going strong reports provincial, Fr Paul Cooney, after a recent visit to Crookwell NSW where the province's most senior priest lives in retirement.

As one of first entrants to the new Marist Seminary at Toongabbie NSW in 1938, Fr Wally was ordained in 1944 being appointed to St Patrick's, Church Hill, then Woodlawn College, Lismore, before beginning 26 years of missionary work in Bougainville and the Shortland Islands.

Returning to Australia in 1974 with a serious eye condition Fr Wally continued to work in Marist and rural NSW parishes until his retirement in 2004. Happy 97th, Fr Wally!