Brian Smith: Founder of the Emmanuel Community
Brian was one of the original leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Brisbane beginning in the early 1970's. Along with Fr Vince Hobbs (Bardon Parish), they led the Bardon Outreach Prayer Meeting which was the vehicle by which thousands upon thousands of people came to experience the power of the Holy Spirit through this Catholic Charismatic Renewal. By 1973, Brian was elected Chairman of the National Service Committee for CCR throughout Australia. This coincided with his new fulltime role as Director of the National Communications Centre for CCR in Brisbane and an invitation to be an Advisor to the International Communications Centre in Ann Arbor, USA. Brian's participation in the world wide CCR quickly expanded as the International Communications Office moved from the United States to Belgium in 1976 and then to Rome in 1981. He was a favourite conference speaker for many years not only in Australia but in many parts of the world including Malta, Brazil, various parts of Europe, the United States and the Pacific.
Emmanuel was founded in February 1975, drawing its members largely from the Bardon CCR Outreach meeting. The community grew steadily from four families and a single woman to more than 150 people just one year later. The life of the Community included prayer, fellowship, small groups and community gatherings which included praise and worship, fellowship and teaching. The richness of life flowed out to others in a variety of forms which changed from year to year but there would always be a great variety of outreaches which included conferences, men's & women's breakfasts, parish missions, Life in the Spirit seminars, as well as a variety of youth camps, forums and gatherings. The Community also had an international dimension in its outreach with teams traveling to Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Malta, New Zealand and Fiji.
In 1990, Brian became the first President of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships. Established as a Pontifical Association of Christ's Faithful, the Fraternity began with thirteen communities from different parts of the world. In 2008, it numbered more than 80 communities impacting all continents and reaching out to millions of people throughout the world. The Fraternity is an encouragement to communities both small and large as they seek to live a Christian way of life and witness to the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In April of 1996, Brian was appointed as a member of the Council for Laity, a position he held for five years.
Brian was a man who had a great love for the Church and his experience of the CCR convinced him that just as his own faith had been renewed, it was possible to renew the whole Church through God's grace poured out in this movement of the Holy Spirit. Brian's commitment to the Church and her unity saw him take a leading role both formally and informally to try and build relationships with other Christian leaders and to break down many of the barriers that existed between us. Brian was regularly invited as a guest speaker in other churches both in Australia and overseas always seeking to build understanding and friendship. At a formal level, Brian was an active member of the Archdiocesan Commission for Ecumenism for many years and towards the end of his life was involved in an Archdiocesan initiative which saw established a dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Pentecostal churches.
Brian made a unique contribution to the life of the Catholic Church locally, nationally and internationally. While Brian was at home in the company of Popes and Cardinals, he never lost sight of his own ordinariness as a guy from Geebung. He would regularly say, "God can do" this with me he can work through anyones. Amongst other things, Brian will always be remembered for his endless story telling, his love for his family and his endless passion to follow Jesus Christ.