Sr Mary Farrelly shares some insights about her ministry in outback Queensland.
“Some months ago the little town of Yaraka, situated a couple of hours south of Longreach, celebrated 100 years since the arrival of the railway. On the outskirts we read a sign: The Town at the End of the Railway. In fact, it no longer was! The government had announced closure of the line the previous September. Nevertheless, because the railway had been a significant part of the town’s history this was an occasion to remember. I was able to join in the celebration. This included a trip around the local area with a stop at the site where it is believed that the original “Bush Christening” took place! While we stood around the remains of a dwelling and an old log – said to have replaced the original in which McGuiness McGee had taken refuge – one of our group recited Banjo’s poem:
“On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few And men of religion are scanty…”
Whether it is the outer Barcoo, Cooper Creek, the Diamantina River or the Georgina: the further west you go in the Diocese, the less likely you are to find a church of any denomination. Even less likely are you to find a catholic priest living in the vicinity. West of Longreach the celebration of Mass is irregular at best (and that in a CWA Hall) and more likely a non-event or something which happens once every two or three or more years. This is the reality of life in rural and remote Queensland. As such it is very different from life on the coast. Even though priests are fewer everywhere and parishes have been required to amalgamate, it is relatively easy – even if necessary to travel some kilometres – to join a local community for the celebration of Mass and other Sacraments. By contrast where the churches are few and men of religion are scanty, one’s “practice” of the Christian faith is necessarily different. I learnt this during my personal experience of almost 12 years in the western pastoral ministry. What a contrast!”
On Friday 9th March a number of sisters in Australia gathered for a reflection day. The day was facilitated by Marist Brother, Graham Neist. During the day we recalled that following on from the Marist Sisters’ General Chapter in 2015 we had been asked to discern as a group the form of governance we desired for our Unit of Australia. Time was then spent reflecting on what form of governance would be life giving for us as we move into the future. Days such as this one are an opportunity for us to be together and share on of our life as Women of the Word Embracing Life.
The United Nations General Assembly recognizes that social development and social justice are indispensable for the achievement and maintenance of peace and security within and among nations and that it cannot be attained in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms. On 26 November 2007, the General Assembly declared 20 February will be celebrated annually as the World Day of Social Justice. The theme for 2018 World Social Justice Day is Workers on the Move: the Quest for Social Justice. In his message for World Social Justice Day, International Labour Organisation(ILO) Director-General, Mr. Guy Ryders said “Migrant workers, like all workers, are entitled to fair treatment and fair treatment for migrant workers is also key to preserving the social fabric of our societies and to sustainable development.”
Throughout the world Marist Sisters are committed to “accompanying by prayer – and where possible, our actions – all peoples in situation where life is at risk'” (General Chapter 2015). In the Asia Pacific Region sisters are actively working to be a voice for refugees and asylum seekers and for women, men and children who have been trafficked or exploited in situations of forced labour.
On the feast of the Epiphany, Marist Sisters under 60 years of age gathered in Senegal, West Africa. Travelling from travelling from Australia, Brazil, England, Fiji, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines and including Sisters already in West Africa this was a meeting of minds and hearts, an opportunity to share experiences and dream together. Over a period of about four weeks participants reflected together on themes such as Contemplative Dialogue, Balance and Self Compassion, Leadership and Resilience, Vision and Prophetic Witness. While experiencing the rich culture of West Africa there was also time for the participants to share their own cultural heritage. All participants agreed the experiences they shared helped them to grow together as a group and to deepen even further their sense of Mission and of the Spirit of Mary.
Marist Sisters in New Zealand and throughout the world are rejoicing in the First Profession of Sr Tulua Matangi’otuafi sm which took place in Orakei, NZ, on Saturday 2nd December. Tulua’s profession took placce in the presence of her Marist Sisters and her mother who had travelled from Tonga and other members of her family who had come from places such as USA, Tonga, Samoa, Australia, Hamilton and Wellington. Bishop Pat Dunn,Bishop of Auckland, officiated at the Profession Mass together with Mons. Pat Ward, Fr Pat Breeze sm and Fr Pat Brady.
Sister Gemma, Unit Leader of New Zealand, guided the procedure. Tulua responded to all that was asked of her clearly and with grace, and firmly declared her desire to live the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience in the Congregation of Mary, Marist Sisters. Read more…
Click on the images below to see an enlarged photo.
Marist Sisters in New Zealand gathered at Mt Albert in Auckland to celebrate on November 18th our bicentenary of foundation. We were supported by a great many members of the Marist Family and parishioners who came to share our story and give thanks with us. Our celebrant Fr David Kennerley, provincial of the Marist Fathers, brought an all-inclusive simplicity and spontaneity to the celebration of the Eucharist which warmed all hearts.
Sr Marie Challacombe gave a reflection coming from her recent experience in Coutouvre. This linked us with that international and local event, and with past generations of Marist Sisters who faithfully transmitted the spirit of Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, Marie Jotillon and Jean-Claude and Pierre Colin to us throughout these 200 years.
A convivial gathering in the Primary School hall after the Eucharist gave us all an opportunity to catch up and exchange news. Before we all departed each branch of the Marist Family, our four past Marist schools and the parish of St Mary’s was presented with a framed copy of the plaque erected in the church at Coutouvre on October 3rd with an explanation of its contents.
The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns has published an Advent Reflection Guide: A Season to Welcome the Stranger. The guide contains reflections, questions, prayers, and actions based on each week’s Gospel reading and the experience of Maryknoll missioners who have lived and worked with communities affected by forced migration. We are living in a time of unprecedented forced migration due to conflicts and natural disasters. Pope Francis says “Welcoming others means welcoming God in person!” In sharing this resource the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns invites us to use this guide individually or in small groups to reflect upon our life patterns, to pray more deeply, and renew our spirit to face the realities of our world. Download a pdf version here.
Australian Marit Sister Sr Mary Farrelly ministers in the Western Area of the Rockhampton Diocese. She recently shared on her ministry for the Diocesan Newsletter:
When you live just a hundred or two hundred kilometres from the border with the Northern Territory or even a hundred or two or three hundred kilometres from your nearest town, you don’t ride your bike to school. You don’t even make the daily mini-bus trip from your nearest bitumen road, travelling on just another 30 or 40 or 50 kilometres into town. It will probably be five or six weeks before you meet the other boys and girls in your class for the first time, before you meet your teacher in person. Of course you will know their voices long before then because you will have been “in” class each day during the week. During the course of the year there will be scheduled events, cluster groups and mini-schools. You will all come together then unless weather (if only it would rain!) or some urgent task on the property, prevents that from happening. Meanwhile, thanks to telephone and computer, to technology in all of its constantly developing forms and of course to the govies – who are often the mothers – distance education (“School of the Air”) continues to produce high achievers as in any ‘normal’ school. Travelling to the pupils Such is life in rural and remote Queensland. In the Diocese of Rockhampton this is increasingly so the further one travels west of the range. So when children are old enough to begin preparation for Reconciliation, the second Sacrament of Initiation, most of their lessons will be via the telephone. They are rarely able to join with peers for face to face lessons and because they are not always attached to the same school of distance education, their availability for a telephone conference may well not coincide.
An important part of the Western Pastoral Ministry is to support children and parents at this special stage of their faith development. There are a few key times when I am able to meet out on the property or in a town if opportunity offers, to introduce the programme. This happened when Cath and I made our annual visit to Bedourie in August. The rest of Georgie’s lessons will have to be via the phone until a visit next year when we will begin lessons for Confirmation and First Eucharist. Further into the programme I use one of several DVD’s to consolidate or enrich the children’s understanding. Learning this way involves challenges for all of us, not least in organising times in the midst of the many other calls on rural families. School lessons may be confined to five days a week whether face to face or by distance education, however livestock have daily needs and the children are often a part of the team caring for and working with them. Having spent 25 years in classrooms with multiple students, I find it hard not to be able to see the children and to pick up facial clues about their understanding. However, regardless of such challenges and limitations I have to say thank goodness for the telephone and to trust that our loving God whose children these are will make up for what is lacking in other respects. (Reprinted from Catholic Diocese of Rockhampton eNewsletter)