Sr Mareta Nai sm

Sr Mareta Nai sm was called to eternal life on Tuesday 10th October 2017.

Eternal Rest grant to her, OLord.
May perpetual Light Shine upon her.
May she rest in Peace.
Amen.

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.

Sr Noreen Kerins sm

Sr Noreen Kerins sm was called to eternal life on Tuesday 26th September 2017.

Eternal Rest grant to her, OLord.
May perpetual Light Shine upon her.
May she rest in Peace.
Amen.

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.

Asia-Pacific Sisters in Ireland

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 Gather in Fiji

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.

Click on thumbnails below to view a larger image.

Marist Celebrations in Sydney

Marist Sisters in Australia gathered at Hunter Hill on the June long weekend to reflect and to celebrate. On Saturday morning Mrs Margery Jackman led us in a reflection on Option for the Poor. In the afternoon Sr Ruth gave us guidance on how to assist someone who has had a fall to ensure the safety of the helper and the one who has fallen then Sr Kate updated us on some financial matters.

It was with great joy that we gathered in the chapel at Marist Sisters’ College Woolwich on Sunday to celebrate our Jubilarians: Sr Catherine Lacey – Golden Jubilee, Srs Clare Francis and Marie Patricia Toomey, Platinum Jubilee.

Marist Father Paul Mahoney celebrated the Eucharist during which our Jubilarians renewed their vows. This was followed by afternoon tea in Marian House.

Golden Jubilee of Sr Jane Frances sm

Easter holidays saw the Marist Sisters of Aotearoa-New Zealand gathered for three days of assembly in Mt. Albert which concluded with the celebration of Sr Jane Frances O’Carroll’s golden jubilee of profession. Mass was celebrated in our recently renovated chapel by Bishop Patrick Dunn, for whom Jane works.

Marist Study Day to Mark Bi-Centenary

The Marist Family in Auckland gathered at Good Shepherd College June 5th for a very stimulating  seminar day of Marist Studies. The day began with a paper from Fr Alois Greiler sm titled The Marist Charism in a Trinitarian Key in which he developed the role of the Spirit in Mary and the charism of the Society of Mary. Fr Justin Taylor sm then developed some ideas of the the Work of Mary’ in the context of the historical trends taking place in the 18/19th centuries. This was followed by a description by Br. Edward Clisby fms of his recently printed book Far Distant Shores (unfortunately delayed somewhere on the route to us),with particular reference to the development of the early Brothers in New Zealand and Oceania.
The afternoon began with a presentation by Br Romuald Gibson  fms on the rise and fall of the four  Marist congregations and the implications of the present phase of religious life so valuable to the Church of our times. After this we heard  from Sr Gemma Wilson sm about the early days of the Marist Sisters. The afternoon concluded with Sr Patricia Leamy smsm’s paper on the significance of collaboration between the branches since the inception of the Society of Mary and in particular for her own branch. Copies of the various talks will appear in the Marist messenger and eventually in Forum Novum.

Sr Antonia Avey sm

Sr Antonia Avey sm was called to eternal life on Saturday 29th April 2017.

Eternal Rest grant to her, OLord.
May perpetual Light Shine upon her.
May she rest in Peace.
Amen.

We extend our prayerful sympathy to the Marist Sisters in New Zealand and to Sr Antonia’s family. At Antonia’s funeral Sr Francine delivered the following eulogy.

“When I heard last Saturday morning that Antonia had gone to her real home, these lines (with a slight gender change) came to mind – lines from the poem ‘Requiem’ by Robert Louis Stephenson:

Here she lies where she longed to be:
Home is the sailor, home from sea
And the hunter home from the hill

Antonia had a great desire and longing to be with God which in the latter years of her life she expressed often. I will talk about this later.

In “Sr Antonia’s Story” where she writes about her life, and in special detail her 23 years as a missionary in Fiji, she speaks of a happy and united family life with an open door to anyone who cared to call.  This characterised Toni’s attitude towards anyone who called at our door during the 10 years I lived with her in Linden and Tawa. It was in her family that her vocation was fostered. She would often accompany her Dad to daily Mass. She said his deep love of the sacramental presence of the Lord rubbed off on her.

Antonia did her primary schooling in Taihape and the convent school in Frankton with the Sisters of the Mission continuing at Sacred Heart in Hamilton.  Her final year was spent as a boarder in Mt Albert with the intention of getting to know the sisters before travelling to Sydney.  She thoroughly enjoyed that year but admits to ‘not studying terribly hard’ and she writes “At the back of my mind I thought that if I didn’t study too well they might not want to have me in the convent.  What generosity!  However I was gradually coming round to the truth that Jesus was calling me and I would answer the call.”

This she did in 1940 on the S.S.Mariposa with Sr Margarita at the tender age of 17 years.  They both got very sick on the boat and she tells the story of them and I quote, ‘feeling so seedy the second  night we couldn’t face going down to our cabin. We staggered down to get a couple of cabin blankets, came back to the deck, made ourselves as comfortable as we could on deck chairs, draped ourselves in the cabin blankets and there we stayed. A couple of times someone came along the deck saying, “Would those with cabin blankets on the deck please return them to the cabins.” Neither of us moved. We thought that if they wanted them back in the cabin they could take them themselves. We weren’t going down again. We awoke next morning to the sound of swishing water with sailors washing the deck.”

The novitiate at that time was in Woolwich, a beautiful spot which overlooked the Lane Cove River in Sydney. Her time there was short-lived as a submarine was spotted in Sydney Harbour and the Woolwich community, the Novitiate and boarding school of 50-60 boarders had to move to Mittagong, a safer place in the country. The hardships during this time were a very good preparation for her time as a missionary in Fiji. This move fulfilled her greatest desire which was to be a missionary.

She travelled to Fiji and spent the next 23 years there as a primary school teacher in different schools. 13 years were spent on a remote island in the Yasawas which was the highlight of her time in Fiji. Travelling on the village boats to reach the island took 8 hours and Antonia was very fearful to begin with but after a couple of trips with the Fijian crews, she lost all her fear because of their prowess at handling the boats. She had many stories to tell of her time there.

Antonia returned to NZ in 1967 where she taught at Mt Albert. She completed her teacher training at Loreto Hall and then taught at both Mt Albert and Herne Bay with several years in Melbourne. Subsequent years were spent in remedial teaching and pastoral work in 7 different parishes throughout the North Island. Her work in Linden, Tawa was mostly with refugees who benefited greatly by Antonia’s teaching skills. One of them who came from Cambodia, wanted to set up a hairdressing business and Antonia spent a lot of time taking him around and showing him what that would entail.  He changed his mind but did manage to set up a hairdressing business in his garage later.  A young Somali girl was another of Antonia’s pupils and she took infinite pains with her.  She came to live in a bedsit opposite our house in Linden where she received a lot of mentoring and instruction. Another Chinese gentleman with his wife went to see her several times at Marian Rest Home as it was called then when she moved North and they still ask after her 10 years later.

In 2007 Antonia moved from Tawa to MacKillop Care and we were told what a wonderful difference she made there, greeting newcomers and visitors with a cheerful smile and a kind word as well as making a great contribution to the life of the residents with her astuteness, sense of humour and prowess at rummykub in the early days and scrabble later. Prue, the Manager, said she was one of life’s special ladies, everyone loved her and she was a joy to have every day.  She would walk around humming and singing, often telling someone how nice she looked and that if the admired item of clothing was left around, she’d take it and put in her wardrobe. Gemma recounts that in probably the last game of scrabble she ever played, she beat her by getting TWO words of 7 letters thus receiving two bonuses! This is spite of being in a lot of pain!   Prior to her illness, she was a dab hand at cryptic crosswords, crochet and knitting.

Antonia has lived in 15 convents in Fiji, Australia and New Zealand touching the lives of countless numbers of people and many, many children. She was a woman of deep faith, prayer and compassion, totally committed to living out her vocation as a Marist Sister.  It was a great hardship for her to live out of her own community in the last 10 years but she did so in a spirit of acceptance and courage.  I have already mentioned  that Antonia often expressed a longing for Heaven and in St Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians he wrote “We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.”     This longing for Heaven, this homesickness for heaven is something Antonia bore within herself daily. She remembered that Jesus said  “There are many rooms in my Father’s house, if there were not I should have told you I am going now to prepare a place for you and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me so that where I am you may be too. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

On April 29th in the 74th year of her Marist life, God called Antonia home.