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…
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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.
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)
Eternal Rest grant to her, OLord.
May perpetual Light Shine upon her.
May she rest in Peace.
We extend our prayerful sympathy to the Marist Sisters in Fiji and to Sr Mareta’s family. At her funeral Sr Torika Wong delivered the following eulogy:
Mareta Nai was born on June 3, 1963 much to the joy of her parents, Adrea and Dorotea Raikivi, who lived on one of the very small islands of Fiji. They warmly welcomed their third daughter and later produced three more boys and two more girls. Adrea and Dorotea brought up their eight children in the faith and were grateful to God who called Mareta to the religious life and Fr. Roga, their son, to the diocesan priesthood. Mareta completed her Primary and Junior Secondary education at the local primary and secondary schools in Solevu, but did her higher secondary studies at St. John’s College, Cawaci on the island of Ovalau.
As a young woman, she had her dreams. Amongst them was the strong desire to offer herself to God in the religious life because she wanted ‘to serve God’s people and share love’. One of her aunts was a member of the SOLN Congregation but Mareta chose to seek God in the Congregation of Mary. She became a pre-candidate with us in 1986. I was privileged to have been the one appointed to initiate Mareta into religious life. She was received into our Novitiate at Wailekutu in 1988 when she was 25 years old. Having discerned her vocation, she confidently took a leap in faith to give herself to God as a Marist Sister.
From this initial stage, I noticed her spirit of faith and concluded that she must have come from a family of great faith. With this gift of faith, Mareta was open and willing to learn to know more about her God and about herself. This helped her greatly to grow in her knowledge and love of her God, and in acceptance and love of herself. She was willing to face her woundedness and sought for healing. In facing the challenge of living with others who were very different from her, Mareta was willing to discover more about herself, and grew in supportive relationship with others in community. She gained much from her formation and was happy to offer herself to God as she made her first profession on January 15, 1990. As her relationship with God deepened and her love for the Marist charism grew, Mareta was ready to respond to Christ’s love and vowed herself to him to be his for the rest of her life, living his Gospel as Mary did as a Marist Sister. She made her Perpetual Profession on January 1, 1998.
After one year of living in community during which she served student boarders at St. John’s College while studying, Mareta went to Corpus Christi Teachers’ Training College for three years. She graduated as a Teacher in December 1994, thus more equipped ‘to serve God’s people and to share love’ as her heart desired. She joined the other Sisters in the education ministry and her first teaching experience began at St. Patrick Catholic School, Nasomolevu on the island of Vuaki, Yasawa. From there she went on to serve in the schools at Nadi, Levuka, Lami and Nadelei. She was Head-Teacher in Marist Convent Levuka and at Marist Convent Lami as well as Community Leader. She was elected as Assistant Sector Leader in 2009. Other responsibilities she held were Initial Formation Accompanier, JPIC Coordinator and local community bursar. Apart from these official assignments, she was a dynamic presence of Mary in community wherever she was. I will quote here what some of the Sisters who lived with her in community shared as they contributed to Mareta’s Eulogy:
From a novitiate companion:
“I thank God for your companionship in the last 31 years, during which we journeyed together as sisters and as friends. Thank you for your loving support, the laughter, the joys and the tears we shared together.” (Lora)
From the last Sister who lived with her in community:
“Living with Mareta in Nadelei at the beginning this year till June, was a privileged and a happy time together – privileged that God had planned that we form a community in Nadelei. It did not take us long to appreciate each other’s company and giftedness despite our cultural differences. Our daily prayers (morning and evening) were consistent even though Mareta’s health was deteriorating. She never complained about her discomfort or pain. She never missed taking her duty as a teacher and she was faithful. Some of the village friends came to the convent to seek guidance from Sister; they would leave with peace and comfort. Mareta was hospitable, friendly and had a sense of humour. She was a dear friend and a good companion.” (Monica S.)
From Mareta’s carer, Ulamila, of Nadelei who took care of her in Lami
“Mareta loved reading story books. She never wanted to trouble anyone. Always suffered silently. She loved teaching and really cared for her students. She took a lot of interest in her students and invested a lot of time on them. She did not react when she was angry, but tried to calm down. She loved and cared for her Marist Community. She loved peanuts.”
From various members of the Unit of Fiji
“Mareta was always bright, positive and gentle with everyone. We hardly heard her complain. When things were hard, she’d laugh her way through. Children, parents and associates loved Mareta dearly. She seemed to live her life to the full. We are fortunate to have had Mareta among us.”(Margaret S.)
“Mareta speaks her mind, very gentle, prayerful. She loves to tell stories. She is a person of connectedness – to family and people around. She asked one sister why people are rushing about. She would love to see them sit down still for a while and spend time with each other. She loved Rugby and knew all the rules.” (Vika)
“When it comes to the Lord’s mission, Mareta is passionate about our participation and our commitment to it. She was not so talkative but she listens, and when she speaks, there is depth and wisdom in what she says.”(Rosemary)
“One of the things that touched me about Mareta is her sense of gratitude. She was ever grateful. She was grateful for her parents for forming her in the faith, for her Marist vocation, for her sisters. At our recent Assembly in August, Mareta took the opportunity to express her deep gratitude to the Sisters for all the love and care given her since she got sick.”(Kalala)
“Mareta and I were as close as sisters can get. We lived together in community in Levuka, shared some good times together. She was always making sure that she was on time for community prayers. We often stayed up late at night talking about many things like school stuff, congregational issues and, of course, sports – especially rugby. Mareta accomplished a lot of wonderful things in her life. She became a great support to youth groups whichever community she belonged to, a head teacher in some of our Marist schools and joined the Sector Leadership team for three years in 2009. Mareta was a woman who liked to tell stories and make connections with people, she loved children and loved teaching. As a head teacher, her school report to the board was written up in advance and sent. She loved her friends and family and, no matter how hard she worked, she was always trying to attend to people who needed her.” (Mariana T.)
In the end, in spite of Mareta’s months of illness, her death came quite unexpectedly on 10th October 2017. On the weekend of October 7 and 8, most of the Sisters went to Vatukoula for the celebration of the 80th Anniversary of the Marist Convent School. Filo and Vika stayed home at Lami with Mareta. They asked her what she wanted to eat and, whatever she craved, they prepared for her – she had enjoyed this, especially the seafood. She sat in their company in the kitchen and even offered to help. Filo and Vika noticed a new lease of life and they all enjoyed their weekend together. Mareta used to be greatly comforted by Filo massaging her legs when they were painful. When the others came back, they also noticed this improvement. On the evening of October 9, Ulamila, Mareta’s carer took her food to her room, which she ate. Mareta asked Ulamila for a cup of hot water and a peeled apple to leave on her table for later on. The two of them chatted while Ulamila massaged her hands for quite a while; and she suggested that they had better prepare for bed. Ulamila came back after 10 pm to see if Mareta needed anything. They again had another chat. Then she told Ulamila to go to bed and only to come to her after Mass the next morning… that she would be all right. Ulamila faithfully followed that instruction. After Mass, she and Vika went up quickly to see her. Only to find that the Lord had come and taken Mareta home with him. Her body was still warm. Of course, the Sisters were shocked and grieved as nobody suspected that Mareta was going to die just then. Mareta’s brother, Roga (Diocesan priest) had been planning to come and celebrate Mass in Mareta’s room that day. He was so very sad, of course. However, it seems Mareta was happy to go and celebrate Fiji Day in heaven.
Mareta was loyal, committed, prayerful and kind-hearted.
During her time on this earth, she positively touched so many people.
Her memory will live on forever in all of our hearts.
Mareta we will all miss you. God bless.
Eternal Rest grant to her, OLord.
May perpetual Light Shine upon her.
May she rest in Peace.
We extend our prayerful sympathy to the Marist Sisters in Aotearoa-New Zealand and to Sr Noreen’s family. At Noreen’s funeral the following eulogy was delivered by Sr Margaret Cross sm:
Sister Noreen was born in Masterton just 90 years ago on 10th September 1927. The Kerins family farmed a property on the border of the town, and they were much involved with the parish and town activities. Noreen, who was the third child, attended the local primary school, and received catechism instruction on a weekly basis, as did most of the families in that time. Then followed three years at St Bride’s College, and from then on she busied herself on the farm.
Having wider family members living in Karori whom she often visited, she came to know our Sisters, and in 1947 entered the Marist Sisters, being professed on the19th May 1949. Her first appointment was to Waitaruke in North Auckland, and it was there that she laboured strongly in all aspects of community and boarding school life, and it was from there too, that her love and understanding of our Maori people went ahead by leaps and bounds.
In the period to 1973, she gave loving, and sometimes correcting service to the youngsters in her care, and over a number of years she fed the sisters, children and constant visitors extremely well with next to nothing in the purse and cupboards! There was generally work available (or waiting) for any visitors to the kitchen, but also refreshments, and tales of humour to liven any day!
1973 saw her move to our Woolwich community in Sydney, and there she cared and cooked and gardened in the same generous way for our Aussie companions and their young people. Her ability to contribute to local pastoral life, and at the same time, to the daily movements of community life, was always inspiring.
After this in 1979 she returned to NZ to the north again and worked among the people of Kaikohe, KeriKeri, and the wider areas. Her accompaniment of the elderly, with visiting and taking Holy Communion to housebound people was a joy for her, and, a precious time for those she visited.
In 2009 she transferred to Mount Albert visiting the elderly, taking enjoyment in helping with the gardening, and enjoying the community around her. This was followed by her movement here to Mary McKillop Care. She deeply appreciated being at this home away from home, and the care of all the staff surrounding her. I am sure that she will call down blessings on all who live here, and those of us who visit.
Noreen, rest in peace with your loving God, under the mantle of Mary our loving Mother.
18 Marist Sisters from all over the world gathered in Dublin recently for their Plenary General Council(PGC) meeting from 15-30 September. The theme of the meeting was Women of the Word, Whole-makers, embracing Life! Present at the meeting were four Sisters from Asia-Pacific – Srs Cath Lacey (Australia), Lavinia Henry (Fiji), Gemma Wilson (New Zealand) and Sheila Manalo (Philippines). The PGC was a wonderful opportunity for the sisters to reflect and discern together and so experience solidarity as a whole congregation.
Marist Sisters in Fiji gathered together to celebrate the life of Jeanne Marie Chavoin, foundress of the Marist Sisters. Australian Marist Sister, Kate McPhee, led the sisters through a process of reflecting, discussing and moving through various rooms which had been set up by the five Fijian Marist Sisters’ communities.The journey began 200 hundred years ago in Coutouvre with Jeanne Marie’s companion Marie Jotillon and ended in Jarnosse with stop-offs at Cerdon and Bon Repos. The process helped the sisters to connect with the realities of the time…the simplicity, the humility, the environment , prayer life and desire to do the will of God.
Following these days of reflection the sisters engaged in a wellness programme led by another Australian Marist Sisters, Ruth Davis. The sisters found this to be very interesting and relevant to their life in Fiji.
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