More than 150 people recently gathered at St Joseph’s Church in Subiaco to celebrate the Bicentenary of the Marist Brothers and their continuing dedication to “making Jesus Christ known and loved”.
This event was celebrated internationally on 2 January – the date in 1817 that Saint Marcellin Champagnat welcomed two young men into a house which he had rented in the town of La Valla in France, where he was Assistant Pastor.
Named Jean-Baptiste Audras and Jean-Marie Granjon, these two young men became the first Marist Brothers, and the date became known as Foundation Day.
At a local level, the choosing of the venue in which to celebrate this significant event in Western Australia was based on the site of the first Marist school in Perth, St Joseph’s Subiaco.
Bunbury Bishop, the Most Rev Bishop Gerard Holohan, was principal celebrant for the occasion, recognising his strong connection to the Marist Brothers.
Bishop Holohan was part of the Marist Brothers Community and Chaplain at Newman College during the 1980s and 1990s and is also an Affiliated Member of the Marist Brothers.
Concelebrating priests included the Archdiocese of Perth Vicar General Father Peter Whitely, Subiaco Parish Priest Fr Joseph Walsh, Baldivis Parish Priest Fr Geoff Aldous and retired priest Fr Pat Rooney.
There were also five Marist Brothers at the gathering: Brother Terry Orrell, Br Noel Hickey, Br Paul Murphy, Br Brian Kinsella and Br Mark Paul.
In his homily, Bishop Holohan recalled the story of the foundation of the Marist Brothers, with Marcellin’s mission being to bring hope, education and the message of Jesus’ love to young lives throughout rural France, especially those most disadvantaged.
Reflecting on the Gospel stories and the miracles performed by Jesus, Bishop Holohan urged members of the congregation to strengthen their faith commitment to become miracle seekers, rather than miracle watchers.
At the conclusion of Mass, morning tea was served on the piazza adjacent to the Church. This provided an opportunity for catching up with friends and reminiscing about past experiences.
It was especially gratifying to witness the wide range of people who attended the celebration, from Marist Brothers past and present, to principals, staff and students past and present.
Also in attendance were a number of members of the newly formed Marist Association of St Marcellin Champagnat.
The event commenced the Bicentenary Year for the Marist Brothers, which Newman College will celebrate on a number of occasions, providing ample opportunity to retell the Marist story of which they are a part.