February 2024 news

For previous years, go to News menu, above

   This page:   Approval at last!     |    District Circular     |     Filipino SMs meet Nuncio     |     SM Bulletin     |     News from Africa     |     SM Bulletin     |     Going beyond the borders     |     Casa di Maria Newsletter     |     Fr Jim, 99 not out     |     SM Bulletin     |     Euroinfo     |     Funeral of Fr Kevin Bates     |     Colin calendar     |     Bolivia anniversaries     |     MLA e-Bulletin     |     Superior-General's Reflection     |     Four new Marists


Approval at last!

On Feb 28, 1873, the constitutions of the Society of Mary received their official approval by the Holy See.  At a weekly meeting with cardinals, Pope Pius IX cut through Vatican red tape to give immediate approval to the Marist document after its chequered history spanning several decades. In Rome the next morning, Fr Ferdinand Vitte sent a telegram (see below) to his Superior-General, Fr Julien Favre, in Lyon: 'Definitive approval given last evening. Send the news immediately to La Neylière. Details (following) by letter.'

Marist Founder, Fr Jean-Claude Colin, had worked on the constitutions since his early days in the village of Cerdon, France, until the years of retirement at La Neylière. At the Marist General Chapter of 1872 the final form of the constitutions was accepted and then sent for approval in Rome.

On Feb 28 each year, Marists throughout the world are encouraged to offer Mass for God's blessing on the Society of Mary.

Following the Second Vatican Council the constitutions were revised and gained further approval on Sep 12, 1987.            [Feb 28]

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Above; Fr Vitte's telegram from Rome with the good news of the constitutions' approval. Below: Fr Colin's desk at La Neylère, France, where he worked on the original constitutions.   |     Today's Marist Constitutions     |     Marist Founder, Ven Jean-Claude Colin.
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District Circular

The first issue for 2024 of the Marist Australia District Circular is available at the Members' Page.                              [Feb 26] 

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Filipino SMs meet Nuncio

Marist Fathers in Davao, Philippines, report on their recent meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio: 'A blessed encounter: the Marist Family of Davao enjoyed meaningful conversation with His Excellency Most Rev Charles John Brown, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, at a fellowship dinner hosted by Archbishop Romulo Valles. Gratitude was expressed for his support in education, social justice, and interreligious dialogue.'                            [Feb 24]

Pictured below with the Nuncio are members of the Marist District of Asia and the Marist International Novitiate staff: Frs David Sanchez, Gil Casio and Sione Hamala (all at left) and Fr Pat Devlin (far right). 

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SM Bulletin

This week's SM Bulletin reports on Fr John Larsen's visits to Mahia and Wairoa in NZ, Obili's safeguarding project and spring classes in Centro Hispanico Marista, USA.

To download, click here or go to Members' Page.                              [Feb 24]

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News from Africa

Reports from Senegal, Burrundi, Cameroon and Rome. A seven-page newsletter in French and English.  To download, click here.                             [Feb 19]

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SM Bulletin

From Rome, this week's SM Bulletin reports on the gathering of the Marist Family in Davao, Philippines, the European Finance team in Paris and the reappointment of Fr Joseph Hindelang as provincial of USA. To download, click here or go to Members' page.                              [Feb 16]

Going beyond the borders

In the Marist District of Asia, young men are accepting the invitation to explore Marist life. In a recent program in Davao, southern Philippines, interested college students came together to learn about Marist history and missionary spirit and to consider 'Going beyond the borders'.                              [Feb 16]

Above: Participants in the recent 'Go beyond the borders' experience in Davao.  Below: Work and information sessions led by Filipino Marists, including Fr Lionel Mechavez.
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Above: St Peter Chanel's formation community in Davao with Frs Gil Casio and Lauro Arcede (seated) and the current group of 'MICS' (Marist Interested College Students) with Raul Angelo Bautista and Paterno (Jun) Bernadio (back, centre) currently commencing formation in the Marist International Novitiate,'Eden', Davao, . Below: Asia District Superior, Fr Christopher Ganzon SM, blessing Angelo and Jun.   |   St Peter Chanel's first Vietnamese aspirant, Joseph Vu
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Casa di Maria Newsletter

From the Marist International Theologate, Casa di Maria, Rome, comes the first newsletter for 2024, twenty colourful pages of reports on community occasions and experiences at home and away. To download, click here.                              [Feb 16]

Fr Jim, 99 not out

Feb 16 is the ninety-ninth birthday of veteran Marist missionary, Fr Jim Harding SM, the oldest member of the Marist Fathers' District of Australia.

After World War II service in the RAAF, the young Jim Harding studied medicine at Sydney University before being appointed resident medical office at the Mater Hospital, Sydney. He entered St Peter Chanel's scholasicate, Toongabbie, NSW, in 1954 to become a Marist missionary in the Pacific, before long introducing modern methods of tropical medicine to Bougainville and setting up a hospital in the village of Moratona.

Fr Jim now lives at Southern Cross Care, Marsfield, visited regularly by confreres from his home community of Maryvale/Montbel, Hunters Hill.  Happy 99th, Fr Jim !                               [Feb 16]

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Above: Fr Jim in 2021.   |   99th birthday visit from Maryvale/Montbel confreres, Frs Jim Carty and Pius Jones.   |    With older sibling, Sr Mary Harding RSJ (100)  
Below:  Archival photos from Bougainville days.
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SM Bulletin

This week's SM Bulletin reports on First Professions in Davao, Fr John Larsen in Australia and appointments in Asia and Marayong. 

To download click here, or go to Members' Page.                            [Feb 09]


The February issue of Euroinfo reports on changes at La Neylière and Ste Foy, intercession ministry and online ecology course, 

To download click here or go to Members' Page.                                 [Feb 09]

Funeral of Fr Kevin Bates

Over a thousand mourners attended or viewed livestream the funeral of Fr Kevin Bates SM, OAM on Feb 08 at Holy Name of Mary church, Hunters Hill, where Fr Kevin had ministered as parish priest for many years.  The Requiem liturgy was led by Marist District Superior, Fr Tony Corcoran, accompanied by Marist, diocesan and other religious priests and followed by interment at Macquarie Park cemetery, North Ryde..

Fr Kevin's down-to-earth, cheerful and gritty presence endeared him to many throughout Australia as pastor and spiritual guide. Internationally he was known for his fifteen music albums from which the funeral liturgical songs were drawn.

A native of Geelong, Vic, and avid 'Cats' supporter, Fr Kevin was brother, uncle, grand-uncle to many family members who were present at the Requiem, scenes from which are pictured below. For a short summary of his life, click here. For Fr Michael Whelan's homily, click here.

Fr Kevin, rest in peace.                  [Feb 08]

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Below: Fr Kevin's family members and parishioners participated in the liturgy with readings and song... sister, Maree   |   Kia Mackun, sister Trish and niece.   |   Montbel's local superior, Fr Pius Jones proclaims the Gospel.   |   Homilist and seminary classmate, Fr Michael Whelan.   |    Words of remembrance from brother, Michael Bates. 
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Above: Some mourners arrived two hours early to be sure of a place in Holy Name of Mary church.   |    Overflow seating and livestreaming was available in the adjacent Chapter Hall, as well as at nearby St Joseph's College.  Below: Fr Kevin was well known and respected by the clergy of many dioceses. As well as fellow-Marists, concelebrants included Bishop Terry Brady, diocesan and other religious priests. Bishop Bernard O'Grady  OP was also present. During the Mass Fr Tony Corcoran read a message of condolence from Sydney's Archbisop Anthony Fisher.
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Above: A guard of honour along Mary St was formed by students of Villa Maria primary school, Marist Sisters College, Woolwich, and St Joseph's College. Below: Fr Tony presides at the burial of Fr Kevin at Macquarie Park cemetery, North Ryde. Fr Kevin shares a grave with the late Fr Peter Guiren SM, former provincial and principal of Chanel College, Geelong, Fr Kevin's old school. Further below: The Vigil for Fr Kevin in the chapel of his community of Montbel.
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Colin calendar

While the year is young there are copies of the 2024 Colin calendar still available. This year's calendar theme is 'Who is Jean-Claude Colin to me?' with monthly responses from Marists, young and old, throughout the world.

Now in its eleventh year, the Colin calendar is produced in Australia and distributed throughout the Society of Mary and to members of the Marist family and others on request. 

In a choice of seven languages and two sizes, the calendar is free of charge for individual copies or small numbers through an order form on the Colin website: click here and follow the link.                                      [Feb 06] 

Above: Cover of the 2024 Colin calendar with participants of the Colinian Renewal Program, La Neylière, France, the resting place of Marist Founder, Ven Jean-Claude Colin.  Below:  Young Marists with their calendars at Casa di Maria International Theologate, Rome... |  ... and Marist International Novitiate, Davao, Philippines.

Bolivia anniversaries

In a message on Feb 02 from Bolivia, Fr John 'Hoppy' Hopkinson SM, recalled two significant anniversaries. On that day sixty years ago, fresh from Brisbane, a youthful John entered St Peter Chanel's Scholasticate, Toongabbie, NSW. And on Feb 02, 1991, the Misioneros Maristas were formed.

Pictured below are memories of the 33rd and 60th anniversaries. Congratulations, Fr Hoppy and team!                              [Feb 05]

Above: Gilberto Patana, Javier Nina and Fr Hoppy with Bishop Adehmar Esquivel at the time of establishing the first mission of Misioneros Maristas in the jungle by the Boopi River in the Amazonia Boliviana in 1991.  |   Thirty-three years later Fr Hoppy and his co-founders, Gilberto and Javier, in a recent photo.   Below: The group of postulants who entered the Marist seminary on Feb 02, 1964, pictured at the Marist holiday house, Bilgola, NSW.

MLA e-Bulletin

For the latest e-Bullletin from Marist Laity Australia go to the MLA website: click here.

Superior-General's reflection

In his reflection for February, Superior-General, Fr John Larsen SM, points to the Presentation Feast and Marist commitment, noting the profession of four young Marists on Feb 02 (see below).

Go download click here, or go to Superior-General's Page.                              [Feb 03]

Four new Marists

In a ceremony at 'Eden', the Marist International Novitiate, Davao, southern Phillipines, four young men took their first vows as members of the Society of Mary. The new Marists are Pascal Ndikumana SM (Burundi), Lachlan Bartlett SM (New Zealand), Marc-Fidele Tay SM (Togo) and Alban Hinnoumabou SM (Benin).

The professions took place on Feb 02, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, a popular date for Marists and a day of celebration for all religious worldwide.

For the newly-professed Marists the next step in their journey of formation for the priestood will be to commence language and theology studies at the International Theologate, Casa di Maria, Rome.

Congratulations, Marc, Pascal, Lachie and Alban!                              [Feb 03]

Above: The professions took place during Mass celebrated with novitiate socius, Fr Sione Hamala, presiding in the company of priests of the Marist Asia District, local religious, family and friends. Below: Scenes from the Eucharist including Fr Gil Casio SM preparing for the gospel, novice master, Fr David Sanchez SM, preaching the homily and members of MICS (Marist Interested College Students) providing music.
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Above: The newly-professed Marists with members of the Marist Asia District and the novitiate community.