Earlier this week, 170 delegates from Marist schools around Australia, and those who work in support and leadership of them, gathered for the sixth biennial conference of the Association of Marist Schools of Australia (AMSA) which was held at the RACV Royal Pines Resort at Benowa, in Queensland.
The Conference Committee organised a rich and engaging programme. Facilitated by Professor Anne Cummins (from ACU), keynote speakers included the noted Marian theologian Professor Tina Beattie (from the UK), social anthropologist Fr Gerald Arbuckle SM, Aboriginal educator and artist Miriam Rose Ungunmerr (from the NT), Brother David Hall FMS (educator and Chair of the new Province Mission Council), and Fr Kevin Duffy SM (Assistant General of the SMs, from Rome).
The three days interweaved sessions that dealt with Marian theology, Catholic school leadership, Marist spirituality and education, the place of charism, and some key challenges provided by contemporary Western and Australian society. As always the days were complemented by a prayer-and-worship programme and warm conviviality.
This conference was the last such conference under the old AMSA banner; the 2013 conference will be an MSA-sponsored gathering. Brother Julian, addressing the delegates at the end of the conference, highlighted the shared origins of each of the three Marist branches that have been members of AMSA, and assured the Marist Fathers and Marist Sisters schools that, although MSA members will all come from the Champagnat family, the mutual bonds will continue and that the other Marist schools would be welcome in future conferences, not as guests but as family.