Br. Michael Callinan, FMS
Why live in community? Are you like a priest?
These would have to be the top two questions asked of me by people who see me as part of a Marist ministry but don't really know much about me or my life outside the work context. And they're good questions!
My response to the first is that the witness of my life, lived together with other Brothers, is meant to emanate a tangible joy of what living the Gospel is like for us. If I don't, I (and they!) should give it up and choose another life pathway. I'm not suggesting that community life is easy or always 'pleasant' (what life is?), but I do genuinely believe that if God's Spirit is animating our shared life as Brothers then one of the clear gifts of that Spirit will be joy. And what does that joy look like? Being able to share comfortably, pray openly, challenge respectfully and, most importantly, laugh often.
I think my life is very different from that of most diocesan priests I know, although priests who have chosen ordained life within a religious congregation do share some similarities with my life, depending on their order. All Christian people are called to serve with and live out of joy, but for Marist Brothers our joy is lived in a particular Marian style.
Every day we proclaim in our community prayer that God has done good things for us, and our hearts, like that of Mary, unashamedly give praise to God for God's action and unfolding call in the events of our lives. We find it very easy to speak about this with each other, and I know this ease has grown in me through my personal experience of coming to know Jesus and understand his journey of joyful response to his Father.
I know this transparency is what makes many groups of Marist Brothers appealing groups to be around. In fact, it's a quality that's evident amongst gatherings of Lay Marists in ministry too. I guess Brothers have an advantage, though, in that it's what we 'come home' to every day and proclaim again before we head out to walk alongside young people the next morning.
Brother Michael served most recently on the Marist Mission and Life Formation Team, following nearly twenty years of leadership in the area of Faith Formation in several Marist schools across Australia. During the past six months Michael has been on sabbatical studying Spanish language at the Javeriana Pontifical University in Bogotá, Colombia and the University of Guadalajara in México. He is a keen liturgical musician and enjoys jumping aboard two wheels on and off road.