Sr Rita Raikuna sm was called to eternal life on Saturday 8th April 2017.
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 Rita’s family. The following eulogy was delivered at her funeral.
Sr Rita or simply Rita as she was known to us, her Sisters, was a joyful person, full of life and always quick to pass a comment and bring laughter to any group she was part of. She brought warmth and joy to any group. She was a live-wire.
Rita was born on the 16th September 1948 and was the third child of Mr Nemani Raikuna (a Police Officer) and Mrs Luisa Raikuna (a Teacher). She attended a few primary schools, as a result of her parents’ postings. These schools included Marist Convent School Levuka, St Anne’s Primary School Suva and Wairiki Catholic Mission School. Rita received her secondary education at Loreto High School in Levuka. This was her first introduction to the Marist Sisters. After completing High school, she was successfully accepted into Corpus Christi Teachers College, from where she graduated in 1969.
Her first teaching post was Bemana Primary School in Sigatoka in 1970. There, she thoroughly enjoyed her single life as a teacher. Her weekends included expeditions across the river for shopping and dances in the mission hall in the parish compound. She always had us in stitches of laughter as she retold those real life stories of her four years in Bemana.
1975 saw her teaching in Mount St Mary’s in Nadi and it was then she decided to become a Marist Sister. The following year she became a postulant and was transferred to teach at Marist Convent School, Lami so as to be under the guidance of Sr. Eamon.
She was received as a novice on the 14th December 1976 in Merrylands, Australia where our novitiate was at that time and made her first profession there on the 18th December 1977. After profession she came back home to Fiji and taught in our schools namely – St Thomas Primary, Marist Convent Lami, Marist Convent Levuka, Convent School Vatukoula, and Nasomolevu Catholic School in Yasawa.
In 1989 she was asked to be missioned to The Gambia in West Africa. She once said that it was with mixed feelings of appreciation, apprehension and a little excitement that she responded to the call. Appreciation – as she felt privileged to be chosen; apprehension – the fear of going into the unknown; and excitement – to find out what was out there. She fitted in easily and was well accepted by the people of Farafenni in The Gambia. She loved her work and was happy. She loved the people and was at home with them.
Then in 1995 she was asked to return home, to be the Novice Directress. Her response was and I quote, “I was struck dumb and numb the whole evening.” If you know Rita, you cannot imagine her being struck dumb or numb. But in her simplicity and humility she responded to the call, her words being and again I quote, “Through my vow of obedience, I acknowledge my shortcomings and weaknesses and will do what the Lord wills in my life.”
She packed up, said her good byes and returned home.
Back here in Fiji she was involved in Formation until she was elected a Regional Councillor and went to live in New Zealand. During that period she attended our General Chapter in Rome and was elected to be a General Councillor, which meant living and working in Rome for a term of seven years. During her time there, she brought much joy and laughter to the community as well as those who visited the community.
It was towards the end of her seven years term she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. This was coupled with rheumatism. Both conditions progressed quickly and caused her a lot of pain which began to cripple her.
Her inability to do certain activities was a big cross; at times almost too heavy to carry. In spite of her suffering and pain, the spark of her lively spirit never faded and they carried her to the end.
She was a woman, a Sister, gifted with many gifts, bright, outgoing (a real extravert) popular with youth. She was conscientious and efficient. In leadership role, she cared for the development of her staff and Sisters, and the spiritual growth of the children in the schools. She had a genuine concern for others and this was manifested in her involvement in pastoral ministry and parish activities. Most importantly she was faithful to her hour of prayer in the mornings before 6.30am Mass. Rita radiated joy, was generous and sensitive in contributing to the communal work load.
Thank you, Rita, for your example of simplicity, joy and faithfulness to our Marist way of living. I can hear you echoing the advice of Sr. Mary Christopher, “When responsibility clashes with pleasure, pleasure must go and responsibility take precedence.” Thank you Rita!
Three Marist Sisters from the Asia-Pacific Region are currently in Rome – Srs Lorraine Campbell (ANZ), Noelene Simmons (Aus) and Lilibeth Cajes (Ph) as members of the Marist Sisters Finance Committee. They took time to visit the Basilica of Santa Sabina. This is one of the Basilicas visited by Fr Jean Claude Colin, the Founder of the Marist Sisters, during his final visit to Rome.
On 7th February, 1927, Marist Primary opened its doors for the first group of students in the parish school. Mother Bernard and Sr. Austin the two pioneer Marist Sisters had arrived on 24th January to make the Marist sisters foundation, some 70 years since the arrival of Bishop Pompallier and the priests and brothers of the Society of Mary.
Ninety years later the school opening was marked by the celebration of Mass, a birthday cake and a replica of the photo of the infant class in 1927. The Marist Sisters were present to support the school and to celebrate with the staff, students and families. Sr Lorraine gave a reflection linking the house patrons – Pompallier, Chavoin, Bernard and Austin to the gospel of the day that called on all to be united to the vine – Jesus, the vine of our ancestors in the faith, the church community, and to each other. (Jn 15: 1-4)
Attending the ACRATH conference in Sydney recently was Sr Margaret Vaney from New Zealand. The theme of the conference was End the Scourge of Human Trafficking Now. Conference participants were given presentation on the presence of slavery in supply chains and how we can use our consumer power to bring about change. Margaret is a member of ANZRATH (Aotearoa-New Zealand Religious Against Trafficking in Humans). During the conference she spoke on the work ANZRATH is doing in New Zealand.
Sr Kathleen Daly sm was called to eternal life Saturday 28th January 2017.
Eternal Rest Grant to her O Lord.
May perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.Amen
At her funeral on Thursday 2nd February eulogies were delivered by Sr Julie Brand on behalf of the Marist Sisters and her cousin Jenny Menzies on behalf of Kathleen’s family.
Eulogy on behalf of the Marist Sisters:
Kathleen was always focussed on the goal ahead. She was purposeful and knew her own mind. And so it was that last Friday (27th January) she walked into the Office at St. Joseph’s and said she wished to go to Hospital, asking when the paramedics would arrive to take her. This surprised us all, as Kathleen did not relish Hospital visits. Only minutes after being placed in the Ambulance, Kathleen began to slip away. Less than twenty four hours later, she had surrendered quietly and peacefully to our God, whom she had loved and served so faithfully throughout her life.
Kathleen was born in Sydney on 10th August 1926. She was the third of five children born to Michael and Kathleen Daly – Gerald and Nola being the eldest, and Marie and Monica the youngest. After the death of her parents, Kathleen and her siblings went to live with her aunt, uncle and five cousins. The bonds they formed as a large family unit remained very strong and Kathleen would always delight in family gatherings and celebrations. Kathleen attended St. Thomas’s Primary School, Lewisham, and Bethlehem College, Ashfield, before undertaking a Commercial course at St. Patrick’s Business College. She then worked as a stenographer in a Government Department in Macquarie Street, Sydney. Kathleen was actively involved in Parish life and when she was 19 years old she thought of becoming a Religious Sister. It was while in the Confessional at St. Patrick’s, Church Hill, that a Marist Priest encouraged her, saying “What are you waiting for?” He suggested that she meet the Marist Sisters at Merrylands. Kathleen said later, “I knew the day I went to Merrylands to ask to join the Marist Sisters, even though I had never known or met a Marist Sister, that I was led there by Divine Providence for Mary’s intention”. Read more…
Eulogy on behalf of the Family:
Dickie, named by her father ‘his little dickie bird’.
Dickie was the name that came to be affectionally known and used by all her family.
Dickie was born 10th August, 1926 in Tempe. She was the third in line in her family. She had an older brother, Gerald, who has passed away, and three sisters, who are still alive today – her older sister Noelene (Nola) and two younger sisters, Marie and Monica. Dickie’s parents were Michael & Kathleen Daly. Michael was born in County Clare, Ireland, and Kathleen was born in Australia. After they married they lived in Tempe and later moved to Summer Hill.
When Dickie was a young teenager her life and that of her siblings was to change dramatically when sadly her father died and a couple of years later their mother also passed away. However, out of sadness came that unique Irish Catholic spirit of generosity. Her mother’s sister, Alice, and her husband, Uncle Jack Connell, were about to offer an extraordinary gift of love. Aunty Alice and Uncle Jack also had 5 children – Kathleen, Molly (who became a nursing sister with the Little Company of Mary), Eileen, Kevin and Jack. Kevin & Eileen are still with us today.
So with this large family already in place, Aunty Alice and Uncle Jack took the five Daly children into their small Dulwich Hill home. What a magnificent charitable act, suddenly raising 10 children! The stories I’ve heard over the years are of a house full of laughter, joy, love. In one small kitchen on any weekend Uncle Jack loved listening to the races on the radio, Aunty Alice always cooking something in the oven and 8 wonderful women chatting and laughing in the kitchen, and many long hours playing hopscotch or rounders with the boys. Read more…
Marist Sisters in Australia gathered in Woolwich on Saturday 21st January to welcome our Congregational Leader, Sr Grace Ellul, home to Australia. Grace is making her official visitation of our Unit. It was a very joyous occasion.
The afternoon began with a time of prayerful reflection during which we recalled that 200 years ago Jeanne Marie Chavoin and Marie Jotillon left home and family to begin the sisters branch of the Marist Family. Afternoon tea followed giving us an opportunity to enjoy catching up with Grace and each other. Grace was also able to catch up with a former Australian Congregational Leader, Sr Margaret Purcell.
Pope Francis has delivered a message entitled Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace for the 2017 World Day of Peace which occurs on 1st January. He urges us to imitate Jesus who marked out the path of nonviolence putting an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-16). Quoting the words of St John Paul II Pope Francis reminds us of the fact that “momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice”.
As we celebrate the World Day of Peace on the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, let us ask Mary to guide us that we might be instruments of peace and nonviolence in our world.
Read the full text of the Pope’s message here.
Sr Birisita Bibi recently graduated from Corpus Christi Training College in Suva Fiji. Our Sisters’ contribution to Catholic Education in Fiji is well known – from those missionaries in the early days who staffed the Teachers’ College and ran the schools from which so many of our vocations came to the local Sisters who continue to serve schools in Lami, Levuka, Nadelei and Suva, as well as reaching out to the Indian community and training catechists. You are following in a great tradition, Biri! We are proud of you! May you, and the students you teach in the coming years, be richly blessed.