Networking Against Human Trafficking

TK groupTalitha Kum (the International Network of Consecrated Life Against Human Trafficking) Continent representatives met in Rome 25th – 31st January.  Present at the opening of the meeting were Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Sr Carmen Sammut, President of the Union of International Superior’s General(UISG). Marist Sisters and ACRATH member, Sr Noelene Simmons sm, represented Australia (ACRATH)and New Zealand (ANZRATH) at this meeting.

TK meeting LogoThe first three days of the meeting, held at the UISG headquarters, were spent in sharing experiences and developing the Talitha Kum vision and objectives for the next three years. Over the next three days participants gathered in the Pontifical Academy of Science where they received valuable input from experts and representatives of other church organizations who are working in the field of human trafficking. On the final day the members of Talitha Kum presented workshops on human trafficking to members of secular institutes who were in Rome participating in the events for the closing of the year of Consecrated Life. All who participated in the Talitha Kum meeting found it to be an enriching experience and are retuning home with a greater awareness of being part o an international network against human trafficking.

My Chosen One, In Whom I Delight

12512015_10207085523490415_1045157920_nMy Chosen One in Whom I Delight was the theme of Sr April Acero’s Perpetual Profession Mass held recently in the Philippines. On the cover of her Profession booklet was an illustration of Jesus standing in the river and the dove/Spirit descending on him. The ceremony of profession was integrated into the anticipated parish Mass of the Baptism of Christ on the evening of Saturday 9th January. Eight Marist Fathers concelebrated with Archbishop Romulo de Valles DD, Archbishop of Davao, and his Vicar for Religious, Fr. Bill Larouse (Maryknoll Fathers). The ceremony was simple,  filled with love and joy. April’s family, Marist Sisters in the Philippines, members of the Marist family, friends and parishioners were present to celebrate with April.

12506922_10207085528250534_1533235756_nThe theme of gracious choice and April’s joyful response permeated the atmosphere of the Profession ritual and the entire Eucharistic Liturgy. It was truly a celebration of God’s love for his Son, the Beloved, and for His graciously chosen daughter, April, in whom He delights. By the creativity of the Spirit, in his homily, the Archbishop focused on this theme as he very simply expounded the Scripture readings and noted that whatever God was saying to Jesus, his Son, He was also saying to April. April was overflowing with joy in the fact of being so loved. Following the profession ceremony guests were entertained by items prepared by the Postulants of the Marist Brothers, the Novices of the Marist Fathers and a beautiful Kiribati dance performed by Sr. Terube, SM and Sr. Katea an SMSM Sister.

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World Day of Peace

marcellins_favourite_imageWe begin this new year of 2016 celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and the World Day of Peace.  Let us unite with Pope Francis and pray that through the “intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, who cares for the needs of our human family, that she may obtain from her Son Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the granting of our prayers and the blessing of our daily efforts for a fraternal and united world.” (Pope Francis World Day of Peace Message 2016)

Sr Norma Wood sm

Norma Wood

Sr Norma Wood sm died peacefully at St Anne’s Nursing home on Thursday 31st December 2015. At her funeral held on Friday 8th January 2016 eulogies were delivered by Norma’s niece, Mrs Penny Noonan, and Sr Julie Brand sm.

Norma Alice Wood was born at home at 165 Westgarth Street, Northcote, Melbourne, on the 22nd August, 1920. She was the third daughter of John Walter Wood and his wife Catherine, who had been a Fitzgerald before her marriage.  Norma (who very early in her life somehow was given the nickname of “Daudy” by her father) had two older sisters: Kathleen Alma who was 4½ and Evelyn May who was 2½ when she was born. The family was completed with the birth of John Fitzgerald who was born when Norma was 3.

All the siblings spoke of a happy childhood which was filled with the ups and downs of family life. All of them, with the possible exception of Ev, were blessed with a strong sense of humour and a good sense of the ridiculous which created a home full of fun and a lot of laughter.

John Walter, who was always known by his second name, Walter, had started his working life in the Commonwealth Department of Treasury and transferred to the Commonwealth Bank when it was set up in c1912. As a bank officer he was transferred to Sydney sometime in the mid-twenties to work in Head Office in Martin Place.

Our grandmother found a house in Vaucluse, which was close to some of her cousins, and was keen to live there. However our Grandfather had found the house in Rosebery Street in Mosman, which was to be the family home for more than 40 years. It seems a major consideration in his choice was that he thought the trip to work by boat was very attractive and even after the Harbour Bridge was built he continued to travel by boat.

The local church, Sacred Heart, Mosman, was an important part of the family’s life. The children went to school there – the girls to the convent, which was run by the Mercy nuns, and John to Marist Brothers, Mosman.  It was an era of Sodalities and the Holy Name Society. There was also an active St. Vincent de Paul Society, which was very busy during the Depression years. The Wood children grew up in a friendly neighbourhood with many friends of all faiths. On completion of her schooling at the height of the Depression, Norma was fortunate to obtain work as a book-keeper in a millinery business. Read more…


On the day of her reception as a Marist Sister, 17th March 1947, Norma wrote in prayer: “This day that I have been longing for has now come.  I aspired to wear Our Lady’s Blue and desired to give myself to You, the sweet Spouse of my soul.  I know I am not worthy to wear Our Lady’s Habit but, O Jesus, since You have called me to the Religious life, will You not give me all the graces I need to be a worthy Marist, a true blue Marist, a good child of Your most Holy Mother?”  We give thanks today that Norma’s prayer was answered.  Called by gracious choice, she responded with the whole of her being and God did indeed give her all the graces needed to be a true blue Marist.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANorma came to know the Marist Sisters through her visits to Merrylands after her close friend, Patricia de Coek, entered the Novitiate there.  Norma described Pat as a ‘real inspiration’ and said, “I couldn’t help noticing how serene and happy she was.  There was an atmosphere of peace and prayer about the place.  I began to feel that there were more important things than dancing and tennis and swimming etc. ……or was it that God and His love became more important to me than these other things?  Somehow within my heart I knew He was the only One for me.”  And so began what Norma described as her “Love Affair” with God.

For over 67 years Norma lived her Marist life in faithful love, doing all “for the great glory of God and the honour of Mary”.  In her early years, known as Sr. Evangelist, she ministered in Primary Schools in Australia and New Zealand, later taking up the role of Provincial Bursar for Oceania.  In this administrative role Norma gave assistance to bursars in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.  She was so supportive and encouraging, initiating many of us into the complexities of accounting and bookkeeping, always with patience and ready humour.  Norma was often appointed Local Superior or Local Bursar, serving the community with kindness and compassion, laughter and joy. Norma 2Many stories are told of Norma delighting others with her great sense of fun, her comical acting, and ability to tell a good yarn.   Norma loved engaging with people, and her gifts found ready expression in pastoral ministry, where her acceptance and understanding of others was so greatly appreciated. It was with much sadness that Norma set aside her pastoral work in 2004 when her health began to fail.  She did not find it easy to move from active parish ministry in Laverton to a quieter life in Marian House.  However, as with all her appointments, Norma accepted this move in a spirit of great faith. Read more…


Christmas Greetings

peace on earthOnce again we come towards the end of another year. We celebrate that beautiful Season of Christmas – the birth of our saviour. Sometimes it is hard to get past the commercialism of Christmas with all the rush and bustle. However, if we can stop and reflect on what great love God has for us we can use this time to give God thanks for all the blessings of the past year and look forward to what is to come. Read more in the Marist Sisters Australia December Newsletter…

Making Room at the Inn

Sefton“This year our minds cannot help but dwell on the millions of people fleeing persecution and conflict and who like Mary and Joseph find that ‘there is no room at the inn’.  Christianity is rooted in history.  Bethlehem is past history.  Yet, the story goes on. It is not Mary and Joseph looking for a room at the inn now, but the millions of people, ordinary men/women/children, who are asking for a place of safety and an opportunity to live normal lives.”  (Extracts from a letter from Congregational Leader of the Marist Sisters to all the sisters.)

In response to the refugee crisis the Marist Sisters in Australia have made one of their houses available for refugee accommodation. In the photo Sr Kate, Bursar of Australia,  can be seen handing over the keys of the property to the refugee support organisation that will oversee the placement of refugees in the property.

Unit of Fiji is Born

Fiji 5jpgThere was great rejoicing when Marist Sisters in Fiji gathered in Nadi on 8th December to celebrate the birth of the Unit of Fiji. As the sisters gathered around Mary’s statue, they were very conscious of being one family with all Units of the Congregation.


Fiji 1During a time of prayerful reflection the Sisters untied knots in a chord to symbolize Mary’s action of untying the complexities of our lives and bringing us to Jesus. No celebration in Fiji is complete without a feast. Included in the feast was the cutting of a birthday cake to mark the birth of the Unit of Fiji.

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Rejoicing in the Gift of Vocation

12358199_10206895716105349_12307092_nOn the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 12th December 2015, Sr. Edna B. Gado, SM, publicly make her Perpetual Profession of the vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience in the Congregation of Mary. Present to witness Edna’s Perpetual Profession were her Marist Sisters, Edna’s family, members of the Marist Family and many other friends and invited guests.   The Solemn Mass was celebrated at the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Tagum.and was officiated by Most Rev. Wilfredo D.Manlapaz, D.D., STD., Bishop of Tagum. A number of Marist Fathers and Diocesan Priests also concelebrated. Sr. Sheila B. Manalo, SM the new Unit Leader of the Marist Sisters Philippines, received the vows of Sr. Edna in behalf of Sr. Grace Ellul, SM, Superior General of the Marist Sisters.

12380235_10206895716025347_657261944_nFor several years now, Sr. Edna has been with the Talikala Foundation passionately ministering to Prostituted and Trafficked Women and Girls. We thank God for the gift of Sr. Edna and we continue to pray for her. We pray also for special blessings for her Mom and Dad as have they generously “given” their only daughter Sr. Edna to the Church and to the MaristsSisters.

More photos…



Embracing New Life in Australia

Unit of Aust 12 Dec 2015 (6)On Saturday 12th December, Marist Sisters in Australia came together to celebrate a new beginning – the Design for Life for the Unit of Australia. The afternoon’s prayerful reflection began with the viewing of a video in which Sr Grace Ellul, Congregtional Leader, addressed all Marist Sisters reminding us that “we are called to live as Marist women embracing life in our tiny little corner of the universe…It is Mary’s work we have pledged ourselves to do and we trust our Good Mother to be with us as we journey forward in her Name.” During the final stages of the prayer Sr Cath Lacey, Unit Leader of Australia, presented each Sister with a copy of the Design for Life and also a copy of the General Statutes of our Congregation. Following the prayer there was a delicious afternoon tea and time for much talking and rejoicing.

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Historical Day in the Philippines

Unit 5Marist Sisters in the Philippines came together in Matina house on December 8 to celebrate and begin our life as the Unit of the Philippines. Sr. Sheila B. Manalo, our new unit leader, received the special candle marking our beginning as a unit. Sheila is the first Filipino born sister to be called to leadership in the Philippines. (Photo: L-R Srs Sheila & Torika)

Unit 2Sr Torika Wong handed over the leadership to Sheila and assured her  of the support of the sisters. Sr Veronica Lum handed over the Bursars ‘burden’ to Sr Lilibeth  Cajes with words of encouragement. Sr Monica Lum handed on the leadership role in Matina to Sr Sheila Manalo reminding her to keep hold of Mary’s hand! We all enjoyed the  special prayer sent to us from the General Team. April led us in this prayer. After a simple and delicious dinner Sheila held a short meeting to look at the calendar of activities for December and January.

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