News of the work of Marist Laypeople around the world and the outcome of the General Chapter 2017 is now available in the latest Newsletter from International Marist Laity (WMLC). The quarterly publication is for all the Marist Family and anyone interested in Marist spirituality and mission. This edition covers the Lay input to the General Chapter and its promising outcomes for ongoing Lay and Religious Marist collaboration, as well as news about Lay initiatives from NZ, the Americas, Italy and the Pacific.
Brazil has a new nature reserve; a tribute to a popular Dutch Marist Fr Piet van der Aart who also worked for periods in New Zealand and Brazil.
The Brazilain reserve, which he helped establish, was formally named on 31 January 2018 and is called Reserva Volta Velha – Pe. Piet van der Aart.
A biologist, Fr van der Aart led many exploratory tours, for mainly groups of US students, to the nature reserve on the Atlantic Coastal rain-forest of Brazil.
The Reserve comprises 2,850,000 square metres of the Atlantic Coastal Rain-forest, in the North of the state of Santa Catarina.
The main goal of the reserve is to conserve biological diversity.
In an article published in the main papers of Brazil, a friend of Fr van der Aart, Lucio Amado Machado remembers the day when they got lost in the massive space.
“It took us more than four hours to find the trail.
“Piet was surprisingly calm as he was having fun watching 5 grown-ups worried about their situation, in near panic.
“We all laughed a lot after we arrived in the open area again.”
Fr van der Aart’s connection to New Zealand was as a teacher of biology at St Patrick’s College, Wellington.
After his time at St Pat’s, Fr van der Aart returned to The Netherlands and became parish priest in Enschede until he was sent to Sao Paulo in Brazil, working as a pastor in a favela and as a guest lecturer at the local university.
It was during this time he introduced American students into the tropical rainforests.
Music however was Fr van der Aart’s first love.
After ordination as a priest he requested to study music, however the Society of Mary superiors directed him to biology.
In Brazil, with his health deteriorating, he returned again to The Netherlands, dedicating the remainder of his life to composing songs in honour of God.
On good days he sometimes wrote two to three works.
It is said he was a musical perfectionist; that while breaking with traditional text, his compositions are very structured, strictly adhering to the rules of music and composition.
Deaf in one ear, Piet van der Aart wrote 1746 works.
He died 21 March 2017.
- Photos from the initiative (PDF)
Fr Gerald Arbuckle received a letter of thanks from Pope Francis, for the gift of his recent book “Fundamentalism at Home and Abroad: Analysis and Pastoral Responses“.
The Holy Father appreciates the sentiments which prompted the gesture; Chapter 4 of the book is entitled: Catholic Fundamentalism: An Analysis.
The message was conveyed via the Secretariat of State.
In the book, Gerald Arbuckle argues fundamentalism is not just a radical form of Islam but is a reaction to cultural chaos.
He goes on to label fundamentalists as dangerously simplistic people who fear a loss of identity. He says they use words, recourse to the ballot box, or, in extreme instances, bullets and bombs.
The views are similar to those expressed by Pope Francis to journalists on a plane trip home from 2015 trip to Africa.
Gerald Arbuckle is co-director of Refounding and Pastoral Development, a research ministry, in Sydney, Australia. An award-winning author, the New Zealand Marist priest is internationally known for his expertise in helping church leaders minister effectively in a postmodern world.
The Marist General Chapter delegates attended Mass and an audience with Pope Francis on October 5.
At the end of Mass the Pope addressed a special greeting to the ‘Chapter of the Society of Mary’, and he encouraged Marists to “promote our charism in a spirit of service and fidelity to the Church”.
At the end of the audienc, the Chapter with its secretaries and the representatives of Marist Laity gathered on the steps of the sagrata where they were joined by the Pope.
Former superior general Fr John Hannan introduced the new superior general, Fr John Larsen to him.
Pope Francis asked Fr Larsen where he intended appointing his predecessor.
The General Chapter also elected Frs John Harhager (USA), Ben McKenna (Oceania), Juan Carlos Piña (Mexico) and Paul Walsh (Europe) were elected as Fr John Larsen’s (Asia) general councillors. Fr Harhager is vicar general.
Fr John Larsen SM, Saturday evening, was elected superior general of the Society of Mary.
A member of the district of Asia, and on loan to the international formation programme and succeeds Fr John Hannan.
John Larsen is the first non-European to hold the position in 24 years.
Spending most of his Marist life in Asia, ministering in the Philippines, Myanmar and Thailand, John Larsen has been involved in parish ministry, prison chaplaincy, retreat work, education – formal and non-formal – programs, health care for HIV/Aids, migrant ministry as well as leadership and formation.
He is a former district superior of the Philippines and primarily responsible for establishing the Marist Mision in Ranong, Southern Thailand.
Profound influence on Burmese migrants
Current district superior of Asia, Fr Pat Devlin, who worked alongside John Larsen in the Philippines, says he is delighted with the election.
“I believe he will bring energy and vision to the leadership”.
“He will be a blessing for the Society as he is a spiritual man with a broad vision combined with an interest and care for individuals especially those in great need”, Pat Devlin said.
Fr Frank Bird from the Marist mission says John Larsen’s influence on Burmese migrants in Ranong has been profound.
“Some HIV AIDS Patients and others still have a photo of Fr John in their homes alongside an image of Buddha.
“I think they recognise a Holy Man of great compassion.
“They remember his love, his breadth of vision, his personal and loving style of leadership that was also not afraid of the challenges involved in migrant border crossing town with its many difficulties”, said Frank Bird
Frank Bird says he has never forgotten visiting people with John Larsen as he did his daily visits to sick HIV migrants. and recalls this story.
He recalls this story.
“Approaching their home, he looked carefully around to see if any police were following that could endanger them.
“He pushed open a bit of corrugated iron to reveal a dirt pathway to an abandoned building; it was an area beside and above a dirty river.
“Next, going under the building and up some stairs; we came across a number of families and children who were obviously happy to see him.
“He walked among them as a friend,” said Frank Bird.
Bold move, an answer to prayer
Writing to the New Zealand province, Provincial Fr David Kennerley called the election a bold turning and an answer to prayer.
He says John Larsen’s election continues the theme, “time to look outwards”, first highlighted by retiring superior general, John Hannan.
A change to Canon Law means John Larsen assumes the role immediately.
Before coming to the General Chapter, John Hannan and his council vacated the General House.
John Larsen entered in Mount St Mary’s Seminary, Hawkes Bay New Zealand, in 1974.
After ordination in 1981, he taught for five years at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, during which time he volunteered for the foreign missions.
As well as the experience of mission in developing countries, John Larsen has been involved in the formation of Marist priests and occupied the position of novice master, and formator both in philosophy and theology houses in the Philippines.
His most recent appointment is Rector of the Marist International Theologate in Rome.
Around 40 young people gathered recently in the Philippines for the 2017 Marist Vocation Jamboree.
The theme of this year’s Jamboree was “Share the gentle presence of God to the world, as Mary did.”
Held in Matti District Catholic Centre, Brgy. Matti, Digos City, the event was hosted by the Marist Fathers’ Community in Matti, and facilitated by the vocations directors of the Marist Fathers, Marist Sisters, and Marist Missionary Sisters.
The event introduced the Marist vocation to the young people and was a combination of lectures, reflection and sharing, games, and prayer.
Several participants expressed their delight in the experience and look to furthering their contact with the Marists.
Source: Marist Asia