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Society of Mary New Zealand
Mission and spirit of the Society of Mary New Zealand
Mission and spirit of the Society of Mary New Zealand

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A Marist priest, Fr Alan Williams has been named the new Bishop of Brentwood in England.

The appointment was made by Pope Francis and was announced at a press conference yesterday.

The former Regional Superior of the Marist District of England says he was both “surprised and humbled” to be appointed by Pope Francis.

“There is indeed a God of surprises and in my life as a priest and religious, I have learned to trust ever more in the grace of God for whatever task has been assigned to me”, he said.

Fr Williams, a quietly spoken man, is currently director of the National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham.

“The best way to learn about my new diocese is to meet the people.
“I’m not happy simply sitting in an office, that’s not me.

“Bentwood with it mix of East London boroughs, towns and rural areas is both exciting and challenging,” he said.

Fr Williams is a people-person and says that working with people brings out the best in him.

“We can learn together and go forward together”, he said.

Fr Williams is a keen mountaineer. He “tries to see God in all things”.

During his priestly ministry, Fr Williams has been a secondary school teacher, school and university chaplain, parish priest, a trustee of a refugee centre in London, Major Superior of the Marist Fathers in England and chairman of the Society of Mary’s General Finance Committee.

He holds degrees in theology, psychology and religious education.
He succeeds Bishop Thomas McMahon, who held the position for 34 years and whose resignation upon reaching the age limit was accepted by Pope Francis.

Fr Williams will be ordained bishop by Bishop McMahon on July 1 in the cathedral of St Mary and St Helen, Brentwood.

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New Zealand Marist priest, David Mullins won selection from the New Zealand ANZAC Gallipoli 2015 centenary commemoration ballot box and will travel to Gallipoli next year.

Fr Mullins will join 2,000 other New Zealanders commemorating 100 years since the ANZAC landing on the peninsula in Turkey, where more than 8,500 and 2,721 New Zealand soldiers lost their lives.

For Fr Mullins it is a way to connect with his late father Jack, who volunteered in the Canterbury Regiment the day World War I broke out.

“The main thing is to be on the land at Gallipoli. To feel where my father was”, Fr Mullins told Stuff reporter Ciara Pratt.

“I’ve never had the chance until now to go, so I put in the application and decided to hedge my bets.

“It’s a bit like Lotto”, the retired priest said.

Working as a missionary for many years in Tonga and completing many mission trips, Fr Mullins is used to travel, however at 83 he says travelling is not as easy as it used to be.

“I’m willing to put up with a few difficulties because the New Zealand soldiers put with up with so many difficulties and problems, and sacrificed a lot”, he said.

Mr Jack Mullins, a budding journalist at Christchurch Press, saw three years service. An injury early into the ANZAC battle saw him transported to hospital in Alexandria.

After suffering several more injuries he returned to New Zealand in 1917 and resumed his journalism career.

While in Gallipoli, Mr Mullins wrote about his war experiences and sent the reports back to his former employer.

“He never spoke critically of the war and he was proud of the fact he was at Gallipoli”, said Fr Mullins.

“In one of his writing he spoke about the captain’s sermon on the ship being commendably short, something I’ve tried to put in practice myself”, Fr Mullins said.

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Philip Bennenbroek made his perpetual profession as a Marist in Whangarei on Saturday 22 March.

Phil’s parents and 15 Marists joined the parishoners of St Francis Xavier parish for the occasion, which was part of the Sunday vigil Mass.

Describing the occasion as ‘fantastic’, Phil said “all the different parts of the liturgy worked together really well to create a celebration that was greater than the sum of the parts.”

His abiding memory of the profession was of the warmth and friendliness of the community at Whangarei; a number of who took the opportunity to introduce themselves.

The Parish Priest of St Francis Xavier, Thige O’Leary, welcomed the occasion, saying “it was great for the parish”. Fr O’Leary said a number of parishioners had not witnessed a profession ceremony before.

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Strengthening St Mary of the Angels church in central Wellington, New Zealand is going to cost about $9.35 million.

The parish priest of St Mary of the Angels, Fr Barry  Scannell said that at present it met between 15 and 20 per cent of the new building standard and would need significant work on its foundations and structure to bring it as close to 100 per cent as possible.

Engineers, architects and geotechnical consultants had spent months preparing plans for the project, which was expected to take 18 months to complete.

Scannell said money needed to be raised before work could start. He expected the strengthening would have to be done in two stages.

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The Marist mission in Rangong, Thailand has more students than ever!

Recently the mission attracted 67 students to sit the entrance examination to permit those successful to enter the Burmese Migrant Secondary Education Programme.

Director of the mission, Fr Kevin Medilo is viewing the increase positively.

“This is a great number and a great sign that Burmese families are really wanting to support their teenagers in continuing with education”, he said.

Normally in Ranong 90% of Burmese migrant children leave education around 11 years of age.

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Gerry Arbuckle has accepted a request from L’Arche International for two years to work.

Fr Arbuckle collaborated previously with Jean Vanier, in the early 2000′s, with the refounding process of L’Arche communities throughout the world and will now work with twenty regional leaders in six sessions to assist the process of inculturation within vastly different cultures.

The first session of two weeks took place in Paris in February; later venues will be Nairobi and Kiev.

Recently the Arche communities have been expanding significantly in Eastern Europe and Africa.

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Sunday December 8, Kirsten Sloan, a volunteer on at the Marist Mission Ranong, Thailand,  renewed her commitment to the Marist Association of Mary.
Kirsten, an Aucklander, works with Marists in Ranong Thailand, where she manages the HIV/AIDS Health Project.

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Eight Burmese students, studying on the Thai-Burma border graduated, Tuesday, from the Australian Catholic University (ACU).

Each graduated with a Diploma in Liberal Arts.

2013graduatesTheir graduation brings to a closure 14 months of hard work supported by the staff of the Marist Mission Ranong and the ACU‘s online learning programme.

Families and leaders in the Ranong community gathered to honour their commitment and educational achievement.

Speaking on behalf of all the graduates, Leah War War called the academic journey profound.

“We are migrants who are economic refugees in Thailand. One day, we heard how Australian Catholic University was offering opportunities for all people from Myanmar regardless of ethnicity or religion. This gave us a chance to improve our lives and most importantly gave us hope”, she said.

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Mission marks 50 years of 'bubbles'

To commemorate 50 years since the production of its first sparkling wine Mission Estate is set to turn the pricing clocks back.

It is a deal which winery staff believe will put as big a sparkle on the faces of the first 50 people to hit the online "buy" button on December 9 as there are sparkles in the bottles of their latest bubbly creation - Mission Fete .

When sales get under way at 9am that day the first 50 people to purchase a bottle of the hand-crafted Fete cuvee will get it for the equivalent price of the very first methode traditionelle effort, Fontanella, which went on sale in 1963.

The price was 21 shillings and sixpence back then - or $2.20 in today's money.

"I should imagine there will be a few people lining up for it," Mission winemaker Paul Mooney said.

As well as the price, the limiting of sales to one bottle each for the first 50 buyers will echo how Mission also marketed the very first Fontanella White and Fontanella Pink varieties when they were introduced as the country's first ever methode traditionelle.

As production had been limited and demand was high sales were pegged at just one bottle per buyer.

The Mission's winemaker back then, Brother John Cuttance, had spent a year in France and returned to the winery on a mission - to use the techniques he learned in the home of Champagne to make New Zealand's ground-breaking bubbly. It was named Fontanella (Italian for "Little Fountain") as the Mission's Rector, Father Kelly, had been to Rome and said it reminded him of the fountains he had seen there.

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It has been 175 Years since the first Marist mission to Oceania and Aotearoa New Zealand.

To celebrate this and coinciding with the close of the Year of Faith and the Year of Colin, people from all branches of the Marist family in the Auckland Diocese gathered at Manurewa on Sunday 17th November.

Marist Brothers and the Champagnat Laity, Marist Sisters, Marist Priests and Brothers, Marist Laity and the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary all contributed and shared the family atmosphere of the afternoon.
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