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Magisterial Documents: Ecclesia in Oceania

Magisterial Documents: Ecclesia in Oceania

Apostolic Exhortation on Jesus Christ and the Peoples of Oceania: Walking His Way, Telling His Truth, Living His Life Pope John Paul II
November 22, 2001

The full document is available on the internet.

Brief History

Ecclesia in Oceania was published by Pope John Paul II as the summary the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Oceania, which was held from November 22 - December 12, 1998. In the words of the Holy Father, "The Assembly analyzed and discussed the present situation of the Church in Oceania in order to plan more effectively for the future. It also focused the attention of the universal Church on the hopes and challenges, the needs and opportunities, the sorrows and joys of the vast human tapestry which is Oceania." [# 2]

Reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary takes place twice in the document: in # 5, when speaking of Christ who was born of Mary, and in #53, the final paragraph and conclusion to the document. The document speaks of the deep devotion to Mary as an integral aspect of the Catholic faith in Oceania. Special veneration is given to her under the title Help of Christians. She has been proclaimed "Patroness of Oceania under the title of Our Lady of Peace." [# 53] It is especially under the aspect of peace that Pope John Paul II concludes the document. In a prayer addressed to Mary, Help of Christians, Mother of the Church, Bright Star of the Sea, and Our Lady of Peace, Mary as "light of every ocean and mistress of the deep" is asked to "guide the peoples of Oceania across all dark and stormy seas." [# 53]

Core Marian Passages

Mary our Mother

53 To conclude this Apostolic Exhortation, I invite you to join me in turning to the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church, who is so revered throughout Oceania. Missionaries and immigrants alike brought with them a deep devotion to her as an integral part of their Catholic faith; and since that time, the faithful of Oceania have not ceased to show their great love for Mary. She has been a wondrous helper in all the Church's efforts to preach and teach the Gospel in the world of the Pacific. In our time, she is no less present to the Church than she was at Pentecost, gathered with the Apostles in prayer (cf. Acts1:14). With her prayer and presence, she will surely support the new evangelization just as she supported the first. In times of difficulty and pain, Mary has been an unfailing refuge for those seeking peace and healing. In churches, chapels and homes, the image of Mary reminds people of her loving presence and her maternal protection. In parts of the Pacific region, she is especially venerated under the title of Help of Christians; and the Bishops have proclaimed her as Patroness of Oceania under the title of Our Lady of Peace.

In Jesus Christ, whom she nurtured in her womb, there is born a new world where justice and mercy meet, a world of freedom and peace. Through Christ's Cross and Resurrection, God has reconciled the world to himself, and he has made the Lord Jesus the Prince of Peace for every time and place. May Mary, Regina Pacis, help the peoples of Oceania to know this peace, and to share it with others! At the dawn of the Third Christian Millennium, may true justice and harmony be God's gift to Oceania and to all the nations of the world!

With gratitude for the grace of this Special Assembly, I commend all the peoples of Oceania to the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin, trusting absolutely that hers is an ear that always listens, hers a heart that always welcomes, and hers a prayer that never fails.


O Mary, Help of Christians,
in our need we turn to you
with eyes of love, with empty hands
and longing hearts.
We look to you that we may see your Son,
our Lord.
We lift our hands that
we may have the Bread of Life.
We open wide our hearts
to receive the Prince of Peace.
Mother of the Church,
your sons and daughters thank you
for your trusting word that echoes
through the ages,
rising from an empty soul made full of grace,
prepared by God to welcome
the Word to the world
that the world itself might be reborn.
In you, the reign of God has dawned,
a reign of grace and peace, love and justice,
born from the depths of the Word made flesh.
The Church throughout the world joins you
in praising him
whose mercy is from age to age.
O Stella Maris,light of every ocean
and mistress of the deep,
guide the peoples of Oceania
across all dark and stormy seas,
that they may reach the haven of peace and light
prepared in him who calmed the sea.
Keep all your children safe from harm
for the waves are high and we are far from home.
As we set forth upon the oceans of the world,
and cross the deserts of our time,
show us, O Mary, the fruit of your womb,
for without your Son we are lost.
Pray that we will never fail on life's journey,
that in heart and mind, in word and deed,
in days of turmoil and in days of calm,
we will always look to Christ and say,
"Who is this that even wind and sea obey him?"
Our Lady of Peace, in whom all storms grow still,
pray at the dawn of the new millennium
that the Church in Oceania
will not cease to show forth
the glorious face of your Son,
full of grace and truth,
so that God will reign in the hearts
of the Pacific peoples
and they will find peace
in the world's true Savior.
Plead for the Church in Oceania
that she may have strength
to follow faithfully the way of Jesus Christ,
to tell courageously the truth of Jesus Christ,
to live joyfully the life of Jesus Christ.
O Help of Christians, protect us!
Bright Star of the Sea, guide us!
Our Lady of Peace, pray for us!


Introduction 1-2

Glory to God at the dawn of the Third Millennium
The Synod

Chapter I. Jesus Christ and the Peoples of Oceania
The Person of Jesus - The call 3
Presenting Jesus Christ 4
Jesus Christ: Shepherd, Prophet and Priest 5
The Peoples of Oceania - Place and Time 6
Mission and Culture 7
The Special Synod Assembly - The Theme 8
The Experience 9

Chapter II. Walking The Way of Jesus Christ in Oceania
The Church as Communion - Mystery and Gift 10
The Church Particular and Universal 11
Mutual Enrichment 12
Communion and Mission -The Call to Mission 13
Challenges 14
A Church of Participation 15
Inculturation 16
The Current Situation 17

Chapter III. Telling the Truth of Jesus Christ in Oceania
A New Evangelization - Evangelization in Oceania 18
The Agents of Evangelization 19
The Primacy of Proclamation 20
Evangelization and the Media 21
Catechesis 22
Ecumenism 23
Fundamentalist Groups 24
Interreligious Dialogue 25
Hope for society - The Church's Social Teaching 26
Human Rights 27
Indigenous Peoples 28
Development Aid 29
The Sanctity of Life 30
The Environment 31
Charitable works - Catholic Institutions 32
Catholic Education 33
Health Care 34
Social Services 35

Chapter IV. Living the Life of Jesus Christ in Oceania
Spiritual and Sacramental life - Come Holy Spirit! 36
The Spirit of Interiority 37
"Lectio Divina" and Scripture 38
Liturgy 39
The Eucharist 40
The Sacrament of Penance 41
Anointing of the Sick 42
The people of God - The Vocation of the Laity 43
Young People in the Church 44
Marriage and Family Life 45
Women in the Church 46
New Ecclesial Movements 47
Vocations and Seminaries 48-49
The Permanent Diaconate 50
The Consecrated Life 51-52

Conclusion 53
Mary our Mother 53


AAS 94 (2001): 361-444 (AAS text is in English);

© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.
Most recently updated in 2019.

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