I guess there is somehow a natural suspicion when one group of people that you belong to meet for a purpose that somehow excludes you. Or to put that another way – sometimes when a group of others meet and start talking it’s natural to think that they might be talking about you – or even worse, plotting your demise.
So I wonder whether everyone in the province who did not come to the Under 60 meeting last weekend are wondering what on earth was being plotted. Maybe others are not half as paranoid as I am, but I’m primarily writing this article for the newsletter so that others will have at least the basic idea of what the weekend was about.
Twenty five Marists under 60 were present at Tatum Park. Tatum Park in case you are wondering where on the earth that is – is located about 15 minutes north of the town of Otaki. Years ago it used to be owned by the Boy Scout movement and there are still remnants of Baden Powell about the place. It’s one of those places that seem to have become uneconomical for someone to run – like lots of retreat centres, but it manages to get by with a small and dedicated staff who do their best to make the place run smoothly with limited resources.
All in all there are 35 NZ Marists under 60 – well there were when the bell tolled. John Owens turned 60 on the weekend and that really signifies the point – the province is aging and even those of us who like to think of ourselves as somehow “young” are getting older at the same pace that everyone else is! Being over 60 however is not a crime, nor does being over 60 mean anything like you are no longer young. The last chapter called for a meeting of those under 60 so that the concerns of that group could be looked at and that the province could work out how our mission might better be shaped for the years to come.
Not everyone U60 could attend. About 5 of the group are overseas at present, and others were caught in ministry situations that made it difficult to extricate themselves. But 25 seemed to be a good turn-out of those that we might call the young and the restless.
Basically then the U60 meeting was simply a conversation. It was in some ways a dialogue between the provincial and the group, it was, as well, a conversation between the men themselves – about the future, about what gives each and all of us hope and life, about ways in which the province and each of us participate in and experience the life of the province and the ways in which together we can support each other going forward.
The weekend gave us a chance to pray together to listen to the General and the Provincial, to celebrate the Eucharist together, to reminisce about the good old days, and the bad, to laugh at each other and with each other, to share everything that is good about being a Marist and to forget the less than positive experiences. The theme of the weekend was: Accepting the Past, Living the Present and Exploring the Future.
Tim Gordon whom many of you will remember in the same band as me (and is now married with two young boys) was the facilitator. Mark Walls, Chris Martin and I acted as the organising committee but basically the meeting ran along without too firm a hand on the tiller.
It was certainly for me a very positive experience of being a Marist and being with a group of other Marists just celebrating who we were, talking through the issues that we face, being attentive to the others that were there and being challenged by different ideas. Thank God we do not all think the same way, and I thank God that we can actually share our thoughts with each other, find them quite different and not have a fit about the differences too.
– Tim Duckworth