Refugee week is an annual week-long celebration of the positive contributions of refugees to Australian society. This year, Refugee Week will be celebrated from Sunday, 19 June to Saturday, 25 June, which includes World Refugee Day on June 20. The theme is “With courage let us all combine”, which is taken from the second verse of the national anthem and celebrates the courage of refugees and of people who speak out against persecution and injustice. It serves as a call for unity and positive action, encouraging Australians to improve our nation’s welcome for refugees and acknowledging the skills and energy that refugees bring to their new home. Let us give thanks for the contribution that refugees have made in Australia and extend a welcoming hand to those currently seeking asylum.
Marist Sisters are committed “to networking with other groups working for justice in order to counteract the violence being inflicted on people and the environment.” (General Chapter 2015)
On June 18th it will be one year since Pope Francis released his historic encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home. During Laudato Si Week, 12th – 19th June, let us ask ourselves to what extent we have taken the message of this encyclical to heart. How will we journey forward as stewards of God’s creation sustaining life in all its forms now and into the future?
The Marist Sisters’ Novitiate community in New Zealand decided to honour the spirit of “Laudato Si” on the Monday of Queen’s Birthday weekend – which was also a public holiday and, more importantly for Marists, the Feast of St Marcellin Champagnat!
The place they chose was the Auckland Zoo which has been renovated to become a place not only of conservation of many diminishing species such as the kiwi and takahe, the Siberian tiger and the Asia elephant but also a place where visitors are invited to slow down, to reconnect with nature and to be inspired. They were surrounded by plants, trees, birds, insects, people…
Set in a patch of native bush they found it to be a place of contemplation, meditation, discovery and learning! As you can see in the photo, they paused at the magnificent carving of “Tane nui e Rangi” at the
entrance of the forest aviary of the Zoo. “Tane” is the Maori god of the forest. This carving is the work of five Maori carvers, and they honoured the presence of the Maori people of New Zealand.
While they enjoyed their day very much, they were also conscious of the invitation of Pope Francis to have an ‘ecological conversion’, whereby the effects of our encounter with Jesus Christ will become more evident in our relationship with the world around us.
On Monday 16th May three schools established by the Marist Sisters in New Zealand gathered together to celebrate Catholic Schools day – Marist Primary, Mt Albert (1927) Marist College (1928) Marist Primary, Herne Bay (1928). The two primary schools were welcomed in a powhiri to the College. The two primary schools provided reflections on our shared history and spirituality. Then the College students lead the primary students in various activities. The Marist Sisters were special guests and their contribution was gratefully acknowledged. It was the first time that the three schools had gathered together in this way.
At the City of Ryde awards to recognise the great work done by volunteers Sr Anne Saunders was recognised for the contribution she has made at Hunters Hill Ryde Community Services. The citation in the programme for the awards evening read:
“Sr Anne is very compassionate, caring, a great listener with a delightful sense of humour. She has volunteered with Hunters Hill Ryde Community Services since 2000, enjoying meeting lovely people, having others share their lives with her and she sharing her life with others.”
Congratulations Anne. We wish you well as you continue to be a Marist presence extending care and compassion to those you meet.
On Sunday 1st May Marist Sisters throughout the Congregation rejoiced at the news that a new novice had been received in New Zealand. Sr Lavenia Laweimoala from Fiji is now a member of the novitiate community in Auckland, NZ.
The theme of Lavenia’s reception ceremony was “I have called you by your name and you are mine“. The picture of Our Lady in Coutouvre on the front of the reception ceremony booklet was a reminder of our links with Mary, Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, Foundress of the Marist Sisters, and of our Marist origins. During the ceremony New Zealand Unit Leader, Sr Gemma Wilson, asked Lavenia what she was seeking. Lavenia responded by asking to be accepted into the Marist Sisters who, in turn, responded positively. After Lavinia had signed the Novices Register and the forms for Reception into the Marist Sisters, Gemma presented her with a copy of the Constitutions and General Statutes and a Marian Medal signifying her status now as a Novice of the Marist Sisters. The final hymn of joy and gratitude was the Magnificat!
The ceremony was followed by a celebratory afternoon tea. Lavenia is grateful for the many prayerful wishes she received from sisters throughout the Congregation as she begins the next phase of her Marist journey.
It was with heavy hearts that people gathered on April 21st to farewell Srs Torika Wong and Veronica Lum before their departure to Fiji on 23rd April. Eighteen years ago Torika and Veronica were the first Marist Sisters to go to the Philippines. Marist Fathers, Marist Missionary Sisters, Marist Brothers and postulants, Marist Laity, Partners in Marist Mission, SAMIN representatives, a host of friends and of course the Marist Sisters in Davao gathered for the farewell function that began with Mass at 6:00 pm. Fr Pat Devlin sm, District Superior of the Marist Fathers in Davao, was the main celebrant at the Mass. The backyard was well lit up with over 80 chairs in place. The sudden shower of rain at the beginning of Mass did not dampen any spirits with everyone able to shelter in the house or on the porches.
After the Mass Sr Sheila, Unit Leader of the Marist Sisters in the Philippines, welcomed and thanked all who came. Many more speeches followed with various groups expressing their appreciation of Torika and Vero. Torika and Vero then voiced their gratitude for the richness of life they had experienced in the Philippines and for the love they received during their time here.
Entertainment from various cultural groups followed before all partook of a delicious meal. It was an evening to remember and one that was a fitting tribute to the contribution Torika and Vero had made during their eighteen years in the Philippines.
Click on images below to see a larger image.
First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is an annual global event celebrated on April 22. On Earth day we are encouraged to reflect on what we are doing to make our planet a more sustainable and liveable place. The theme for the 2016 celebration of Earth Day is Trees for the Earth: Lets get planting.
On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement is scheduled to be signed by the United States, China, and some 120 other countries. This signing satisfies a key requirement for the entry into force of the historic draft climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.
Thank you to the Presentation sisters in Australia for sharing a prayer resource prepared by Presentation Sister Elena Hoye, Networker at the UN, “Standing with Pope Francis: Caring for Our Common Home.”
Sr Margaret Cummins sm was born into eternal life on Monday 21st March. At her funeral on 30th March eulogies were delivered by her niece Sr Daphne McKeough rsm and by Sr Carmel Murray sm on behalf of the Marist Sisters.
Daphne Margaret Cummins was born on May 28th 1921, in Crookwell in southern NSW, the fourth of seven children of Oz and Catherine Cummins. With her four sisters and two brothers she grew up at “Cliffords Creek,” the family farm near Laggan. With numerous branches of the family on neighbouring farms, also involved in sheep raising, the extended family scene was a significant part of life. The children, particularly the three youngest girls; Daph, Joan and Grace, had a carefree and happy early childhood. With only eighteen months between them they were a close knit trio, full of pranks and energy around the house, ranging across the paddocks, climbing rocks and trees. And it seems Daph was the ring leader in planning the mischief and encouraging her sisters to carry it out. In their latter years when they met up they regaled each with memories of these prank and giggled like school girls in the retelling.
Along with the extended family, their faith was a defining feature of the family life. Catherine was a very devout Catholic, and passed on this gift to her children. They made the trip to Laggan for Mass each Sunday, and the usual features of the rosary etc shaped their formation. Their mother shared with them a strong gratitude for what God had given, and reliance on what God would provide.
That strength of faith and family ties were called on in a special way with her father Oz’s untimely death aged forty two, when Daph was only seven.Both her parents had fallen ill with a severe flu, and in those days before antibiotics her father was unable to fight the pneumonia which developed. He died after a short illness. Daph sometime shared the story of what as a young child she observed and sensed in that terrible time, of how she struggled to understand what was going on; and of the grief carried deep in her being . Read more from the family eulogy…
Five years ago this coming May, Sr Margaret’s family and her Marist Community gathered together in Marian House to celebrate her 90th Birthday. We gathered in joy and happiness with much laughter and fun. Today we gather again, this time in sadness but with Easter joy, as we farewell Margaret, who was the oldest Marist Sister in the Australian Unit at the time of her death.
Margaret was born in Laggan, near Crookwell, in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales to John and Catherine Cummins and was one of seven children. Her country roots were always strong in Margaret and her character displayed those traits we associate with country women – strength, perseverance, openness, generosity, simplicity and close family ties. The Catholic Church played a central role in the life of Margaret’s family and so it was not surprising that in 1940, at the age of 19, Margaret heard and answered the call to religious life – to the Marist Sisters at Woolwich.
On her reception as a Marist, Margaret received the name Sr. Domitilla. She was professed at the end of 1942 and was sent to Mittagong where the Boarding School from Woolwich had relocated during the War years. Though untrained, she taught in school and also studied. It was a testing time for the sisters and students . Conditions were not conducive for a convent or school. Accommodation was limited and some of the sisters and girls slept on open verandahs often in freezing conditions. However, it is remembered as a time of great happiness, lots of fun and lasting friendships. This was Margaret’s introduction to her life as a Marist Sister.
On her return to Woolwich, Margaret spent time studying and teaching in the secondary school. She even had a year as a Music Teacher. It is evident that she must have been a most versatile young woman with many talents to her bow and ready to undertake daunting tasks. We can only marvel at her adaptability and her willingness to truly live out her Marist calling in a great spirit of faith. Read more from Sr Carmel’s eulogy…
Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace. Amen
World Water Day, instigated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, is observed each year on March 22. This day gives us an opportunity to learn more about water related issues in our world and encourages us to take action to make a difference.
In 2016 the theme of this day is Water and Jobs. Nearly all jobs depend on water. Yet millions of people who work in water are not recognized or protected by basic labour rights. This year we are asked to focus on how enough quantity and quality of water can change workers’ lives and livelihoods. Catholic Health Association of the United States has prepared a prayer for this day. Read more…