Frequently Asked Questions
Marist Association of St Marcellin Champagnat
“An Association of Christians
who share responsibility for
Marist spirituality and ministry”
Why do we need a Marist Association? Why have a Marist Association?
This is a genuine response to a call for coresponsibility for the life & mission of the wider Australian Marist Community. It will provide a formal Church structure for leadership and governance of Marist ministries into the future. In many ways it formalizes what already exists to better provide for Marist life and ministry.
Marcellin Champagnat's particular gift was to found the Marist Brothers to teach and evangelise young people, particularly those on the margins of society. The Marist Association aims to provide the necessary structure to keep Marcellin's dream alive! It is a body of people, canonically recognized in the Catholic Church, who share responsibility for the leadership, governance and animation of Marist ministries. The four main Marist ministries are schools (Marist Schools Australia), youth ministry (Marist Youth Ministry), youth care (Marist Youth Care) and solidarity (Marist Solidarity).
What is its main purpose?
The two main purposes are growing the Marist spiritual family and ensuring the future vitality & viability of Marist ministries. It will nurture the vocation of all Marists by building a sense of community and belonging between all those who choose to share in Marist life and mission. The people who join the Association will ensure that the Marist charism remains a living tradition by continually returning to the question: “What is God asking of Marists in Australia today?” The Association seeks to provide and bear witness to an experience of Church community that is Marian, Eucharistic, faith focused, mission driven and inclusive.
Who is the Association responsible to?
The members will be largely responsible to each other. The Association Council, elected from the membership, act as the Trustees of the Association. The formal title for the Association in Church language is a Public Association of Christ’s Faithful (of Pontifical right), and as such, is responsible to the Holy See for the running of Marist ministries.
Who will lead the Marist Association?
The Association is led by the Provincial and the Association Council.
Who can join? Who can belong to the Marist Association?
The Association is open to anyone with a Marist heart! It formally brings together the Marist Brothers in Australia with other people who are passionate about, and committed to Marist spirituality, life and mission. Members, most likely, are people who currently work in, or have worked in, a Marist school or other Marist ministry for a time. For some, their interest may be a result of personal friendship with a Marist Brother or Marist community, or through their experience of Marist life in other ways. Marist Brothers will also choose to join the Association.
For some people, the Association may be something they are looking to commit to and be a part of for the rest of their lives. For others, it may be a year by year prospect, or only makes sense to them whilst they are working in a Marist ministry.
What will be the relationship between the Marist Association and the Australian Province of the Marist Brothers?
The Marist Association and the Australian Province of the Marist Brothers will be separate entities, both with status in the Church (canonical) and Australian society (civil). All matters pertaining to Marist Brothers will be the responsibility of the Province. The Marist Association will have responsibility for matters relating to all Marist ministries and the animation of local Marist life within Australia. Brothers will choose whether or not they wish to be members of the Marist Association. The Province will be led by the Provincial and his Council, while the Association will be led by the Association Council.
What does belonging to the Marist Association entail? What commitment am I making?
The first members are helping to shape the foundations and expectations of membership in areas such as formation, local community and co-responsibility.
Those joining the Association commit to continuing their faith journey, prioritizing the nourishment of their Marist spirituality. They are also helping to discern the vision and direction of Marist mission into the future.
Whenever possible, and to the extent that is reasonable, those who join the Association will be proactive in keeping Marcellin’s dream alive by building Marist community and life in the places where they live and work, and drawing in other people who are a part of the wider Australian Marist Community to experience belonging and shared purpose. Members commit to attending local and regional Association gatherings. Local gatherings are likely to be 4-6 times a year. Regional gatherings are likely to be 1-2 times a year.
Do I have to be Catholic to join?
No, other Christians can be members of the Association. People of any Christian denomination can be members with voting rights. People who are part of other religious traditions or who have no religious affiliation are welcome to be a part of the life of the Marist Association as companions.
As the Marist Association will have canonical status as a Public Association operating on behalf of the Catholic Church, it is a requirement of canon law that the Association council comprise of people who are baptized Catholics.
If I am the leader of a Marist ministry, is there an expectation that I join?
While it is hoped that many leaders of Marist ministries will want to be a part of the Association, in all cases it is an individual's choice to join based on his or her personal journey as a Marist. However, as a leader of a Marist ministry, there would be an expectation that the Marist Association is promoted and encouraged to staff who are interested.
If I am a Marist Brother, is there an expectation that I join?
All Marist Brothers will also be invited to join the Association. It is not an expectation of them that they have to become members of the Association.
Is there a professional advantage in joining?
There is no employment advantage for members of the Association.
Can I be refused?
Yes a person can be refused. This would only happen because the Association Council thought that the person applying for membership would not be a life-giving member within the Association. The utmost effort would be made to assist the person to see this for themselves in the process of their own discernment.
How long have I got to respond?
You can take as long as you need to decide. The invitation to consider joining the Association is a standing invitation into the future. The process for becoming a member includes a period of time to learn more deeply about the breadth of Marist ministries and become personally involved in one or more of these ministries.
Who is inviting me to be a part of the Marist Association?
The Provincial of the Marist Brothers, Br Peter Carroll, as Chair of both the Association Council and Provincial Council is making the invitation. The Provincial makes the invitation on behalf of the Association Council which is the body which accepts members into the Association.
Why is discernment necessary for me to join the Marist Association?
Being discerning is a great value in any choice a person has to make in life. We believe the choice to join the Association is an important one and that people will want to take time to consider whether this is the best choice for them and for Marist life and mission. Being a member of the Association is a commitment. A person does not need to be in the Association to be a Marist and to share in Marist ministry and life. To join the Association is a choice to share in deciding the future of Marist Mission in Australia and to give one's energy, with others, to ensuring this future.
Since Marists regard this mission as God's Mission, there is a strong emphasis for members of the Association to be people who are listening to God's invitation. It is hoped that all those considering joining the Association, do such listening.
How will discernment happen?
Once a person has expressed interest in joining the Association, a member of the Marist Association Pastoral Team will contact them and together work through a process which best suits the individual. The aim of the process is simply to assist each one in deciding if they feel it is a life-giving choice for them to join the Association in the present context of their lives. The process will be unique to each person who expresses interest.
Do I still belong to the Australian Marist Community (AMC) if I don't join the Marist Association?
Absolutely, the AMC includes everyone who is employed or connected in any way to Marist Schools and Ministries. Joining the Association may not be for everyone, however you are still a valued member of the Australian Marist Community even if you are not a member of the Association.
Is it a life-long commitment?
We would like to think that if you become a member then you are committed for the foreseeable future.
How do I join the Marist Association?
In many of the Association communities across the country there is a Local Coordinator. Typically, an individual approaches such persons or a member of the Association Pastoral Team to obtain an Expression of Interest (EoI) form.
Having submitted the EoI, there is a period of discernment which is individually tailored according to the needs and questions a person may have. This will include opportunities to discuss what membership means and come to a greater understanding of the life and purpose of the Marist Association.
After a period of discernment, you will apply to join the Association and your membership will be confirmed by the Association Council.
What formation is required for me to join the Marist Association?
Spirituality and faith formation programs have been offered in Marist circles now for over 20 years, and many people looking to join the Association will have participated in one or more of these programs. Part of the discernment phase of becoming a member to the Association will enable people to identify areas in their faith life that they would like to nurture and grow through formation.
What will on-going formation expectations be?
It is hoped that people will have an ongoing and active participation in their workplace and local Marist group. It is anticipated that much of the on-going formation will draw on the setting of the local Marist group. People will also be encouraged to read all communications and engage in the dialogue and decisions relating to Marist life and ministry throughout the Australian Marist Community. For personal formation it would be desirable to participate in some of the programs conducted by the Marist Mission and Life Formation Team where possible.
Who is available to speak about this?
Initially you can speak with your Marist Contact person in your local Marist Community, your Principals and your Community Leaders. The Marist Association Pastoral Team members are also available to assist you - Mr. Joe McCarthy, Mrs. Gail Coates, Br. Paul Kane, Br. Graham Neist and Mrs Sharon Williams. Their contact information can be found on the website (www.maristassociation.org.au)
All potential members will be accompanied by a person from the MA Pastoral Team, or a chosen Marist from their local Marist community, as part of their discernment and application process. Having been received as a member of the Marist Association, there will be Spiritual Directors made available wherever possible for those people who choose to engage in this further level of accompaniment.
There will be many resources available with information about the Marist Association. Visitors to the Marist Association website will be able to access resources to assist people in their reflection and discernment on their application for membership.