Recently two Marist Brothers in Lower Hutt celebrated the Golden Jubilee of their entry into the Order. On 12 September 1956, Brothers John Fitzgibbon and Douglas Dawick received the habit at the novitiate in Claremont, just out of Timaru.
Br John is currently chaplain at St Bernard’s College and Br Doug is involved in young adult ministry, living at the Marist Brothers’ young adult community in Lower Hutt, The Grove, as well as being a member of the brothers’ leadership team and also serving on the Board of Trustees of St Bernard’s.
Reflecting on his 50 years of religious life, Br Doug makes no bones about the part others have played in his life. Not only brothers, but the people he has worked for and who have influenced him more than they could imagine.
The example of their generosity, their faith, their commitment to the church and gospel values, their courage in the face of adversity, as well as their friendship – these are what have helped him remain steadfast in following his vocation – as brother, teacher, formator, administrator and now companion to young adults.
‘When I joined the Brothers,’ he said, ‘I was told I was beginning a life of perfection. That was how religious life was perceived.
‘Now, 50 years down the track, I see it differently. I am on a journey of faith, trying to live out and share Gospel ideals, according to the spirit of St Marcellin Champagnat, our founder, supported by my friends and those with whom I work.’
As to the shape of religious life in the future, Br Doug believes there will always be a place for the witness of the celibate, poor, obedient follower of Jesus, but the form it will take will be quite different from what he has lived for these 50 years.
‘The time has come for some radical re-thinking of consecrated life in the Church of today and tomorrow,’ he says.