Melanesian Brotherhood established in Shepparton

By Liz Mellino

The Anglican Parish of Shepparton has welcomed four new faces to the community.

Matthias Tovotasi, Augustine Paekeni, Abaijah Mark Waraua and Kelliot Betu arrived in town earlier this year from Papua New Guinea and the Soloman Islands to establish a household for the Melanesian Brotherhood.

Establishing their lives here for the next two years, Anglican Parish of Shepparton priest-in-charge Reverend Doctor Helen Malcolm said the men would work to share their faith with the wider community while being involved in the activities of the parish.

‘‘They will be participating in the parish activities and services, having their own religious community in one of our units here, and their main mission will be trying to share their faith with the community in Shepparton,’’ she said.

‘‘The reason Shepparton was chosen is that we thought they would fit in well to our multi-cultural community.’’

Formed in 1925, the Melanesian Brotherhood was formed as a band of brothers aimed at taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the non-Christian Melanesia.

The men follow the evangelical counsels under the vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience.

Spending three years as novices, they then take vows for terms of five years which they can choose to renew.

‘‘Those of us who want to extend our time we can renew and we continue with our ministry work,’’ Mr Betu said.

‘‘And for those who want to go back to their own families, they can do that.’’

During their time here the brothers plan to meet residents from around Greater Shepparton and learn the history of the town’s growing multicultural community.

Dr Malcolm said at the end of the two years the brothers might try to renew their stay or head back home to make way for new brothers to visit.

‘‘The aim is to hopefully have some other people learn about God and what that means, how important it is to us, and then they may wish to follow the same path,’’ she said.

‘‘People might start to see the brothers walking around the community so hopefully they’ll be more aware of who they are and why they’re here.’’