Fr Christian Fini, OMI
The inaugural “De Mazenod Family Gathering” of the Province of Australia was held more than a year ago, in August 2019 in Fremantle and was the beginning of setting up the De Mazenod Family Office. A team was appointed including a Charism Coordinator and a Charism Coordinator Assistant, each one bringing their expertise from their current roles. It was always the team’s intention to hold a gathering each year, with every second year being held online. With everything that has been thrown our way this year in 2020, we were becoming all too familiar with zoom and the wonders that can be achieved with technology.
Sunday 29th November was the day we gathered. We had around 100 people gathered with most connected as individuals, plus a small number who connected in Parishes as a community. De Mazenod Family Gathering 2.0 was an opportunity for us to introduce our team, and be able to “see” them, given that COVID-19 stopped us in our tracks, just as we were planning to head into Parishes and communities to meet in person. Throughout this year we have worked on developing our Vision and Mission statements which will now guide us in all that we do. We also have a set of invitations where we invite you to join us and make a commitment to being an active member of the De Mazenod Family.
We heard about several programs that have been available to us as members of the De Mazenod Family including The May Program, (Winter) Harvest and Adore. While these programs have all been delivered online this year, we are hoping that we will be able to support and equip our communities with the resources they need to run some of these programs locally and in person. We had a tour of some of our digital resources, including our De Mazenod Family website, our YouTube channel and our newly developed Learning Management System (LMS). The LMS is a project that we hope will develop significantly over the next 12 months with courses being developed to cover a wide range of topics, including Introduction for new teachers in our Oblate Schools, History of the Australian Province, Charism, plus more that are in the early planning stages.
We also heard about the plans that we have for the coming 12 months. Meeting with people in the communities as travel restrictions ease and travel remains safe, connecting with those who are abandoned or inaccessible, developing a national committee for the De Mazenod Family with a cross representation of as many of our mission’s communities as possible, planning for our next De Mazenod Family Gathering in 2021 in June, and more.