Walking for Justice for Refugees

2016-03-20 13.37.26On Palm Sunday thousands of people across Australia joined in rallies marching to demand justice for refugees. Marist Sister Judith Lythall took part in the Sydney rally which was attended by over 3,500 people.

The 2016 rallies sent a strong message requesting that asylum seekers not be sent back to Nauru, and that the student Mogjan now held in detention in Darwin be released back to her school and husband in Brisbane. There were many calls for the detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru to be closed.

Cyclone Winston

Photo0162_001It is with a sense of relief and thanksgiving we are able to report that the Marist Sisters in Fiji are safe following the worst cyclone on record for Fiji. However, they have been through a harrowing time and now they are facing the long clean-up.

Worst affected are our Sisters in Nadelei, Mareta and Titilia, who have lost their home as the photos show. Photo0167They have been sheltering in the school with the local people. All are affected by power shortages, making communication very difficult. In some places there are water shortages as well. There is a difficult time ahead for Fiji. The Sisters are most grateful for our prayerful support and ask that we continue praying for them and for the people of Fiji during the work of restoration.

Marists Sisters at International Eucharistic Congress

12645189_10205550372980544_7468776575103324461_nMarist Sisters Edna and Sheila were among the delegates from Diocese of Davao at the International Eucharistic Congress held in Cebu City, Philippines, from January 24-31,2016. The theme of the Congress, Christ in us Our hope of Glory. Sheila writes:
“We are feeling so blessed, loved and touched by this experience. The event was a manifestation of the universality of the Church. The people were from 73 countries. The experience of communion was celebrated in many ways such us catechesis, the testimony of various people, sharing in groups, listening, dancing, singing, laughter, processions and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Our prayer during the Congress was: Lord it is good we are here, stay with us and continue to nourish our faith.”

Reception into Novitiate

Hazel, TuluaA joyous occasion for Srs Hazel Ferrel & Tulua ‘Otuafi, and indeed for all Marist Sisters, was their reception into the Marist Novitiate in Auckland, New Zealand on 6th February. This step marks a new stage in their journey to discover the charism and mission of the Marist Sisters within the Church and the spirit and values of Marist religious life which they seek to make their own.

During a simple ritual Hazel and Tulua received a copy of the Constitutions of the Marist Sisters and an image of Mary who will be their guide as they seek to discover God’s will for them. Srs Jane & Margaret will accompany them on this journey.




70 Years of Marist Fidelity

100_3471On 28th January Sr Margarita celebrated 70 years of Religious Profession as a Marist Sister. Because of her frailty it was decided that the celebration would take place at the Kauri Lodge Care home where she has been for nearly two years now. The day began with Father Ralph leading a Communion service. He spoke very beautifully of Margarita’s consecration 70 years ago and of her life of dedication to God’s people since that day. This was followed by a special morning tea. A number of Marist Sisters in New Zealand and some of Margarita’s friends from Waitaruke were present to celebrate with her.

All through the Communion service and the celebration Margarita was smiling. It was lovely to see her joy. She was excited about cards and messages she received. She says a big thank you for all the messages and support she received.


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.

Click on an image below to see an enlarged version.

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…