Marist Sisters in Asia-Pacific

International Peace Day

peace-day“Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.”
(Mt 5:9)

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

The Day’s theme for 2016 is “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace.” Sustainability addresses the fundamental needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Modern challenges of poverty, hunger, diminishing natural resources, water scarcity, social inequality, environmental degradation, diseases, corruption, racism and xenophobia, among others, pose challenges for peace and create fertile grounds for conflict. Click here for a prayer service.

Loving God, guide us to be your artisans of peace,
To use the talents and skills you have so generously given us
To creatively educate and advocate for others who are denied a voice.
Help us to be present to members of the global human family
And to recognize the systems and structures
That deny the dignity of the human person.
Help us to be engaged and fully focused
So we may envision and develop effective strategies
To further justice and to be your artisans of peace in our world. Amen.

In Mary’s Name

Chosen & SentAs we celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, Marists are reminded that we have been called “by gracious choice to follow Christ by living the gospel as Mary did.” We look to Mary as our model of faithful and compassionate service, so that in all we do we might show to others God’s tender and merciful love.

The Response of the Gospel of Mercy

Migrant_Refugee_Kit_Poster_2016_smAs we celebrate Migrant and Refugee Sunday on 28th August we are invited to have the response of the Gospel of Mercy. Pope Francis reminds us that “migrants are our brothers and sisters in search of a better life, far away from poverty, hunger, exploitation and the unjust distribution of the planet’s resources which are meant to be equitably shared by all….it is important to view migrants not only on the basis of their status as regular or irregular, but above all as people whose dignity is to be protected and who are capable of contributing to progress and the general welfare.” Like Mary, let us respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters with compassion and love.

Journeying With New Members

IMG_0649For six months, beginning February 2016, Sr April Ancero took part in the Journeying With New Members formation programme at Marymount Mercy Centre in Castle Hill.

April found this course to be very enriching. IMG_0652She appreciated this opportunity for spiritual growth and for skills development that will enable her to journey with others as they discern their vocation. The Marist Sisters in Australia were delighted to have contact with April while she was here. Following the graduation Mass that took place on 13th August April has now returned to the Philippines.

Fourvière Celebrations in Fiji

DisplayFourvière celebrations in Suva, Fiji, began the evening before as members of the five branches of the Maist Family went to the Parish hall in Laucala Bay to put up pictures and decorate their booths in readiness for a vocation display the next day.

The morning of 23rd July, the day of the 200th anniversary of the promise at Fourviere, was bright and beautiful.  The program began at 9.30am with prayer prepared by the FMS  Brothers.  Picture1It really set the tone for the day.   The prayer concluded with a video clip presenting each of the branches. Then there was a time for mingling with other members of the Marist Family.

At 3pm in Laucala Bay Church Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Peter Loy Chong.  He was very interested in our Marist History and wanted to know what happened  after the promise and when and how the female branches came into the picture.  His questions were answered by many who were sharing with him at the dinner table. Our celebrations ended  with a lot of joyful dancing of thanksgiving and gratitude to God for those who made the promise,  for the perseverance of Fr. Colin, Fr. Marcellin, Mother St Joseph and Sr. Francoise Perroton.dance

Sr Dorothea White sm

Dorothea White

Sr Dorothea White sm
Sr Dorothea was called to eternal life on the evening of Friday 12th August. At her funeral on Thursday 18th August Sr Julie Brand delivered the following eulogy.

It was said of our Foundress, Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, in her early years: Each day brought out more clearly her sound judgement, a remarkable aptitude for business and a rare gift for organising, combined with a sincere and practical piety……….She seemed made for self-forgetfulness and sacrifice and was irresistibly drawn to spend herself for the glory of God and the good of others. (RMJ 279:7) How like our Foundress was Sr Dorothea – a valiant woman of unwavering faith, totally committed to living the Gospel in the spirit of Mary and spending herself, like Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, for the glory of God and the good of others.

Dorothea, whom we affectionately called Dot or Dotty, was born in Mascot on 2nd July 1924, the eldest child of Laurence and Amy White.  She was baptised Amy Agnes, and known by her family as Ness. In the early 1930’s the White family moved from Sydney to Katoomba, where Amy completed primary education and attended secondary school before enrolling in the Metropolitan Business College. After completing a Business course, she assisted at the College for a short while as a staff member.

On 15th August 1945 Amy entered the Marist Sisters at Merrylands. The following year she was received as a novice and given the name Dorothea. Dot would often recall her period of formation, remembering the poverty and hardship of these years and the Sisters’ reliance on Divine Providence.  Though tempted to return home, the inspiration of women such as Mother Mary of Victories, gave her strength and courage.  Dot continued her journey in response to God’s call, celebrating her First Profession on 8th September 1947. Thus began her many years of selfless Marist ministry.  Dot was first appointed to Woolwich and then to Mittagong and Bowral where she taught infant and primary aged children.  However, it was not until 1952 that Dot had the opportunity to attend Teachers’ College at Mount Street, North Sydney, where she honed her teaching skills before being missioned to New Zealand in 1953.  She ministered as an Infant and Primary teacher there for seven years, returning to Sydney in 1960 to continue teaching at St. Margaret Mary’s Primary School, Merrylands.

At the beginning of 1967 Dot was asked to leave teaching and take up a new work as Bursar for the Merrylands community.  Sisters recall that Dot loved teaching and felt this move greatly.  However, in typical fashion she took up this new role with unwavering energy, surrendering as always to God’s Will.  She was a practical woman, who was tireless in attending to the needs of a large community, and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds.  One of my early memories of Dot is seeing her up on a ladder checking the guttering above the kitchen.  Following in Dot’s footsteps was indeed rather daunting. Sr Gemma recalls that, when Dot was handing over the role of Bursar at Merrylands before moving to Woolwich, she showed Gemma a huge black cape that hung behind the door.  “This”, she said, “is for after a storm when you need to climb up onto the roof to check on the tiles”! Gemma tells us that she never did use the cape, but learnt from Dot a lesson in poverty of spirit and total commitment.  During her years as Bursar in Merrylands Dot undertook a Catering course and many of us remember the festive celebrations when Dot went to no end of trouble to ensure that the food looked as good as it tasted.  Dot loved to cook and I’m sure many have enjoyed meals and treats lovingly prepared by her.  She also loved to tend the garden, not simply pruning and watering, but working hard to clear the ground, fertilise the soil, keep the weeds at bay and nurture the young plants.  There were no half-measures with Dot! She delighted in nature, enjoying the beauty of the sea and the mountains, the birds and the animals.

In 1981 Dot began another new chapter in her life when she accepted appointment to Gladstone, Queensland, to undertake Parish pastoral ministry.  I had the privilege of living with Dot for the first four years of her time in Gladstone.  I witnessed first-hand her total dedication and generous service, and her ability to inspire, empower and organise.  In fact, Dot’s organisation of tasks, and people too, could leave one feeling rather overwhelmed! One of the most demanding aspects of Dot’s work at this time was calling forth people to serve as catechists in the numerous schools of Gladstone and the Calliope Shire. Dot trained and supported them in their ministry, co-ordinating the work of over sixty catechists.  She had a great love for the children at the Special School and for the sick and the aged.  She showed particular concern for the people in isolated country areas, visiting them as often as she could. Dot Dot drew many people to deepen their faith, identifying those who were struggling to believe or belong and offering them support and encouragement. She was highly regarded by the Gladstone Council of Clergy, who valued her opinions and insights.  Indeed, Dot had an exceptional ecumenical spirit.  She was inclusive, big-hearted and broad-minded.  In 1988 – the Bicentennial Year – Dot was awarded the Gladstone Australia Day Citizens’ Award.  Fr. Tom Fulcher wrote the citation on that occasion and it reflected the high esteem in which Dot was held, not only by himself, the Marist Fathers and parishioners, but also by so many people of the district.

After leaving Queensland Dot took up appointments in Victoria, continuing Parish pastoral ministry in the Burwood area and then in Laverton.  She was actively involved in all aspects of parish life, particularly the RCIA and Sacramental programmes, and visitation of the sick, lonely and isolated. She was thoughtful and practical. Sr Cath recalls with deep gratitude the care Dot took of her father on the day of her mother’s sudden death. Dot was there to organise and assist. She was always ready to reach out to those in need, especially the poor and struggling, despite the fact that she herself suffered her own health setbacks, particularly while in Laverton. Dot was very committed to social justice, and women’s issues.  She was a Marist woman who moved with the times, keen to read and embrace new ideas.  She was constantly updating herself through participation in courses, seminars and e-conferences.

From her early days in the Congregation Dot had always shown special care for our sick and frail Sisters.  In 2005 she generously accepted appointment as Community Leader of Marian House, where for two years she cared for each member of the community with selfless energy.  After moving to Haberfield and then to Blacktown, Dot continued to visit Sisters in residential Aged Care facilities, often travelling significant distances by public transport when unwell herself.   When the time came for Dot to receive special care, the staff at Minnamurra were delighted to welcome her, as she had been a regular visitor there when Sr. Norma was in residence, and they knew her as a loving woman who took pleasure in sharing stories and bringing joy to others. Indeed Dot was a great story teller, who had a sense of humour and enjoyed a laugh.  She was also a prolific writer, corresponding with many people and keeping detailed personal journals.

Dot’s two great ‘loves’ were her family and her Congregation.  She was always actively involved with her family, showing care and concern for all her relatives. Her love for the Congregation was unquestionable and she strove in all ways possible to promote vocations and encourage younger Sisters.  Though strong and determined, Dot was accepting of decisions made by those in authority and always embraced God’s Will in her life.

Dot was a woman of deep faith and prayer, who, like our Foundress, loved to sit before the Lord in the Tabernacle.  She had known suffering throughout her life and the Cross was at times a heavy one to bear, particularly in these latter years.  However, Dot’s trust in God was unwavering.  In the midst of suffering she had known deep spiritual joys through God’s revelation to her in unique ways.  One way in which God had revealed His love for her was through her encounter with the brolgas.  This happened while she was struggling through a dark period when on Retreat in Yeppoon, Queensland.  In recent times she would often say, with an ecstatic smile, “I saw the brolgas dancing!”  On the night of 12th August Dot breathed forth her spirit in union with Jesus in the presence of four of us, her Sisters. Now you have experienced the fullness of God’s revelation, Dot, and are surely dancing with the brolgas in Heaven.  Remember us before the Lord. May you rest in peace.

Eternal Rest Grant to her O Lord.
May perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.Amen

World Day of Prayer Against Trafficking in Persons

World-Day-against-Trafficking-in-PersonsIn 2014 the United Nations General Assembly designated 30th July to be the World Day against Trafficking in Persons aware of the need for “raising awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”

Human trafficking is a global problem. No country is immune from this crime. People can be enslaved and exploited in situations of sexual slavery, forced labour in agriculture, hospitality, construction, mining and fishing industries; people can be enslaved and exploited in domestic servitude, by having their organs harvested, and in times of conflict and following natural disasters.

A number of Marist Sisters in the Asia-Pacific region are involved in counter human trafficking work. We invite you to take action against this heinous crime by joining with us in prayer on this World Day Against Human Trafficking. Click here for a prayer service.

Auckland Celebrations of the Fourvière Bi-centenary

Auckland groupIt was with a great sense of anticipation that groups representing the five branches of the Marist Family gathered at Sacred Heart College on the morning of July 23 to celebrate together the bicentenary of the Fourvière Pledge made in 1816.

Lighting Fourviere candleThe day’s activities began in the chapel where we were welcomed by Brother Richard fms and as Fourvière candles were lit, we prepared to join in the opening prayer which drew together so many aspects of this special day in the Year of Mercy.  The tone was set for all that would follow which began with the keynote address given by Fr Justin Taylor sm : What happened at Fourvière. This deepened our appreciation of all that had preceded the drawing up of the pledge, setting it in the context of the life and history of the seminarians who composed it.

Fr Justin Taylor smDuring the afternoon a series of workshops was provided: Marian music, Mary in Art, Keeping Pledges, Early Missionaries whose names were recorded in the heart of Mary, Mary, Mother of Mercy, and the Work of Mary today as it is lived by each of the branches.

 

0J9A0017The day concluded with Mass celebrated by Fr David Kennerley sm, provincial, at the end of which candles imprinted with an image of Mary of Fourvière were presented to each branch of the family while all recited a Fourvière pledge for today.  A beautiful day drew to a close leaving 150 Marist people with memories to ponder and challenges to absorb.

Celebrating Jubilees in Australia

IMG_0013On Sunday 24th July the Marist Sisters in Australia gathered to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Sr Anne Saunders and the Diamond Jubilees of Srs Elizabeth McTaggart, Julia Lourey and Therese Campbell.

During the Eucharist celebrated by Marist Fathers Bob Barber and Ron Nissan, the Jubilarians renewed their vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience in the Congregations of Mary.

IMG_0071The Jubilarians were delighted to have some of their family members present. The liturgy was followed by a celebratory afternoon tea, speeches that gave an insight into the lives of the Jubilarians and the cutting of the jubilee cake.

 

Fourvière Bicentenary in Australia

0716-FD-Sydney-2a-0716-FourHope and Joy for the Future

On Saturday 23rd July approximately two hundred and fifty members of the Marist Family gathered at Villa Maria Hunters Hill to celebrate the bicentenary of the Pledge of Fourvière. The main celebrant for the Eucharist was Fr Kevin Bates sm. Kevin concluded his homily by signing a song he had written specially for the occasion – More than Memories.

F0716-FD-Sydney-6a-0716-Fourollowing the homily Statements of Commitment from each branch of the Marist Family were read. At the end of the Mass these statements were signed by the Leaders of each of the branches. A moving moment in the liturgy was when all present were invited to stand and read together an Australian version of the Fourvière Promise.

0716-FD-Sydney-8a-0716-FourFollowing the Eucharist there was a great spirit of joy and thanksgiving as the celebration continued with a meal in the auditorium of St Joseph College, Hunters Hill. During the meal guest speakers, Maria Baden and Br Michael Green fms, shared their reflections on the Fourvière Pledge and doing the work of Mary into the future.