Marist Brothers are 'vibrant and connected'
Getting to know a vibrant and connected group of brothers who were making a real contribution, initially inspired Matthew Green to consider joining the Marist Brothers. While in Year 11 in Canberra, Matthew became aware of what he would now name as his call to be a Marist. While it took courage to speak to one of the brothers and to share with a couple of good friends what he was feeling, the reaction of all was very encouraging and positive. There was plenty of questioning on his part. "Part of me was uncertain… I didn't understand why I had this sense of call, but I knew that it certainly was an option."
Matthew was an only child. He and his parents attended Sunday Mass. Both mother and father were very supportive of his choice to go to Sydney University for a year, while at the same time be an aspirant to the Brothers, keeping in contact with a mentor. At the end of a year, he would join the Brothers' Novitiate. However, liking university and the experience of living at St John's College, he finished his degree before entering the novitiate.
Br Matthew says, "I had no idea what it meant to be a Marist Brother. You only start getting a sense of that once you live in community, and through the novitiate. It is a growing into…an evolving and unravelling through the living of the life…For me the Brother thing was based around a sense that I think this is what God wants me to do, so I'll give it a go!"
Part of the "evolving and unravelling" was learning to live the vows. Matthew says, "I don't stop and think 'how will I be chaste today?', I just live the vows."
He says that some people get caught up in the sexual side of the vow of chastity, which is part of the vow, but he sees the vow as being about relationships, about being open to love and to loving others.
In speaking of the vow of poverty, Br Matthew says, "Being poor, is not a virtue, so the vow is not about being poor necessarily. It's about living simply, sharing what you have, and sharing in common. It's about using resources wisely…"
Br Matthew is the Superior of the community at Hamilton. When asked how the vow of obedience plays out in this role, Br Matthew says he sees the vow as the call to listen to the will of God. He sees his role as on one hand of organising the practical in the daily life of the group, but at the deeper level, of enabling the community to live the consecrated life.
The Marist spirituality is steeped in the Marian tradition. "Christ is the focus and centre of Marist life. Following Christ as Mary did is to respond, to journey, to ponder our daily experience. As disciples of Christ we come to know God, ourselves and others – we are alive!"
Br Matthew teaches Studies of Religion at St Francis Xavier College. He sees his ministry as one of presence: being aware of students and staff, being conscious of the choices he makes, living in the present. Hospitality is related to presence. "To be Marist is to be hospitable," he says. "Hospitality requires openness and trust, builds community and family spirit."
He says, "For me not to live my life as a Brother, is not to be true to who I am, to what I have been called to." And when asked would he encourage young men to join the Marists, Br Matthew enthusiastically replied, "Absolutely!"
Liz Callen RSM