Collection OMPA - Oceania Marist Province Archives

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Oceania Marist Province Archives


  • c.1817-c.1981 (1981)

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Extent and medium

  • 395 reels; 35mm microfilm.
  • 395 digital PDF

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Administrative history

The Marist Order (Society of Mary) was canonically approved in April 1836 after the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome had sought means of evangelising the western half of the Pacific. The eastern half had been entrusted to the Sacred Heart (Picpus) Order in 1833. The Marists, originally an informal group of diocesan priests, accepted the task in the Western Pacific, provided they were recognised as an independent religious order. The first Marists sailed for the Pacific in December 1836 under the leadership of Bishop Jean-Baptiste Pompallier. The Bishop established his headquarters in New Zealand while some of his missionaries were left on the islands of Wallis and Futuna. However, the huge vicariate under Pompallier’s care soon proved too large to be practicable and in 1842 part of it was carved off to form the Vicariate of Central Oceania. This new vicariate comprised the islands of Wallis, Futuna, New Caledonia, New Hebrides, Samoa, Tokelau, Fiji, Rotuma, Niue and the Gilbert Islands. A few years later, before any Marist missionaries had set foot there, the Gilbert Islands were made part of a new vicariate of Micronesia. In 1898, the Marists working in Wallis & Futuna, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Hebrides, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Bougainville were formally constituted into the Province of Oceania. The provincial administration was established in Sydney and remained there until 1971, when the headquarters was transferred to Suva, Fiji.

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Scope and content

The Oceania Marist Province Archives Series (OMPA) is the result of a special project during which records of the Catholic Church in islands of the Western Pacific were copied by Father Theo B. Cook, SM in collaboration with the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau. (Cook was born Theodorus Bernardus Wilhelmus Kok but chose to go by the name Cook in Australia: Povey, 2010). The OMPA series covers the Diocese of Tonga (OMPA 1-25), Diocese of Samoa and Tokelau (OMPA 26-74), Marist Fathers, Rome (OMPA 80-100), Diocese of Wallis and Futuna (OMPA 101-126), Diocese of Port Vila (OMPA 127-178), Archdiocese of Noumea (OMPA 179-360) and the Oceania Marist Province Archives (OMPA 361-400).

Detailed indexes were prepared for the six diocese and those records copied in Rome. These can be found at or compiled in The Catholic Church in the Western Pacific: a guide to records on microfilm (Robert Langdon, ed.), Canberra, 1986.

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Conditions governing access

Available for reference. Special authorisation is to be sought from the Oceania Marist Province Archives to publish entities such as diaries or whole sets of correspondence. Documents more recent than 50 years old and which are not of a public character are not to be published without the owner's permission. These conditions do not prevent a researcher from acquiring knowledge of facts of a private nature touching directly on the reputation of people, but the researcher is asked to use discretion in handling such information.

Conditions governing reproduction

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See individual items

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Existence and location of originals

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Notes area


Those microfilms held by the Australian National University Library were destroyed in a flood in 2018. They were digitised and made available on ANU Library Open Research in 2021 as part of the flood recovery project.


OMPA numbers 75-79 were not used.


French, English and vernacular languages used throughout.

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Povey, D. From the archives. The Journal of Pacific History, June 2010, Vol. 45, No.1, Film and History in the Pacific, pp. 135-139. Taylor & Francis.

Archivist's note

Metadata added by Kari James on 5 November 2021 using metadata supplied by ANU Library.

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