Five hundred and forty people from different countries – half of them families and young people – were together for four days. There were two refugees from Burundi and a group from Syria, 169 people from the Pacific Islands (New Caledonia, Wallis & Futuna, Fiji and Kiribati). The Mariapolis was held on January 13-17 on Phillip Island, 150 km from Melbourne (Australia).
The title chosen for the event was “Building Unity Together”. The organisers write: “This central point of the spirituality of unity was examined in a formal presentation and immediately embraced and lived out each day of the Mariapolis by all the participants, some of them from very different cultural backgrounds.”
The people who came from the Pacific Islands made a great contribution beginning from their common witness of raising the money to be there: “like the representative from Kiribati who took leave of his work as a seaman in order to be able to attend. There were many beautiful testimonies of Gospel living and how they managed to overcome the many economic problems and raise the money to pay for the flight and lodging. A communion of goods was set in motion a bit like that of the early Christians, and it made everyone experience God’s personal love for them because of the Providence that arrived in many different ways. When they arrived at the Mariapolis they spoke of finding the same family that was no different from the one they had left behind.”
Every day ended in an atmosphere of celebration and gratitude for each ethnic group that was represented, like a small slice of a united world. Everyone felt that “The unity of peoples was not a utopia.”
The people from the islands stayed on for an extra week at the Mariapolis Centre in Melbourne, where they attended a course on family life. “Each day is like a mutual love competition, and we look forward to the next activity with much joy and enthusiasm. There’s a saying, “From little things big things grow”, and we’re sure that great things will grow from Jesus in our midst through our mutual love.”
See on Facebook: Phillip Island Mariapolis 2016