On Saturday 26th March the Marist Sisters of Raiwaqa, Lami and one sister from Levuka met together in Lami for the process of Synodality. The process was facilitated by a trained couple from the Raiwaqa Parish, Ben and Maria Lee.
To begin the facilitator explained the image of the Holy Spirit hovering over the people of God in the Synod2021-2023 logo. The importance of discerning the work of the Holy Spirit in this process was emphasized.
The sisters worked through the topics at a leisurely pace with each sister responding to the questions “What are you hearing?” and “What is your response?”.
Remaining focused throughout the session the sharing of the sisters was positive, enlightening, faith-filled, and gratuitous. The summary of responses will be written up by the facilitators and sent to the Archdiocesan Office.
On Saturday 4th March, Marist Sisters from the Unit of Australia came together to deepen their commitment to the safe-guarding of children and vulnerable adults. Led by Sr Ruth Davis, the sisters reviewed the Marist Sisters’ Policy and Guidelines for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults. There was an opportunity for sisters to discuss the various aspects of the policy and to understand their responsibility in this regards. The sisters affirmed their commitment to live with care and compassion for all and to foster a culture of safety and care for all persons by signing a Code of Professional Conduct.
While gathered the sisters took the opportunity to pray a prayer of blessing for the sisters who will be attending the 30th General Chapter of the Marist Sisters in Rome in April 2022.
In New Zealand, on 2nd December, Sr Tulua ‘Otuafi renewed her vows as a Marist Sister for another two years. COVID restrictions prevented most of the sisters from attending the simple liturgy.
After some afternoon tea together, acting as witnesses, Srs Marie Challacombe, Gemma Wilson and Jane O’Carroll joined Tulua in the chapel at Papatoetoe. They sang, read scripture and Tulua recited her renewal formula. It was a very simple, joyous and prayerful occasion!
“Let them always bear in mind that
they belong by a gracious choice
to the family of the blessed Mary, Mother of God,
by whose name they are called Marist,….
Let them constantly breathe her spirit:
a spirit of humility, self-denial
intimate union with God,
and the most ardent love of neighbour.”
(Spirit of the Society of Mary)
Jean-Claude Colin was born in 1790 in the village of Saint-Bonnet-le-Troncy, France. His early years were a time of political and social upheaval in France due to the French revolution. Both his mother and father were deeply affected by the turmoil caused by the revolution. They both died in 1795 when Jean-Claude was only five years old.
Jean-Claude studied for the priesthood at the seminary in Lyon and was ordained a priest in 1816. Along with some fellow seminarians Jean-Claude pledged to begin a society which would take Mary as model – the Pledge of Fourviere. Following ordination the seminarians were dispersed to various parishes and dioceses. Jean-Claude was appointed to the parish of Cerdon where his brother Pierre was parish priest. Jean-Claude shared with his brother the dream of beginning the society of Mary. The dream of establishing a society in Mary’s name was eventually realised. Jean-Claude Colin is considered to be the Founder of the Marist Fathers and the Marist Sisters.
Each year on 15th November, the anniversary of the death of Fr Colin, Marist throughout the world remember this man who continues to inspire them as they too strive “to think, judge feel and act as Mary in all things”.
This year we are invited to join in prayer with the Marist Father as they launch the Marist Year of Vocations. To view a video in which Fr John Larsen, Superior General, launches the Marist Year of Vocations click here. A liturgy to launch the year can be found here.
Sisters in the Merrylands community gathered to renew their vows on September 12, the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Due to the Covid-19 lockdown situation in greater Sydney it was impossible to come together physically especially as three of the five community members live in an aged care facility.
Srs Bev and Judith gathered and lit a candle for each of the sisters in community. Srs Julia, Veronica and Therese were able to connect by phone and together they joined in prayer and renewed their vows before concluding with the Salve Regina.
“Let Marists always bear in mind
that they belong by a gracious choice
to the family of the Blessed Virgin
Mother of God.
In her name they are called Marists
and they chose her as their model.”
(Spirit of the Society of Mary)
As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Mary (12th September), Marists throughout the world take time to reflect on the privilege that is ours in bearing the name of Mary. Mary is our model guiding us as we endeavour to live as true disciples of Jesus.
Throughout her life Mary responded with compassion to those in need. She responded when her cousin Elizabeth was in need. She responded to the needs of the young couple at Cana. She remained at the foot of the cross when her Son was in need. She was with the apostles as the waited for the Spirit.
Like Mary, Marists are called to respond to the needs of our time through our prayer and where possible through our actions. We pray that Mary will guide and encourage us as we strive, like her, to bring the compassion of God to all.
We, the undersigned, striving to work together for the greater Glory of God and the honour of Mary, Mother of the Lord Jesus, assert and declare our sincere intention and firm will of consecrating ourselves, at the first opportunity, to founding the pious congregation of Marists.
That is why by the present act and our signatures, in so far as we can, we irrevocably dedicate ourselves and all our goods to the Society of the Blessed Virgin. (Pledge of Fourvière, 23rd July 1816)
The anniversary of the Pledge of Fourvière each year is a time for Marist throughout the world to recall with gratitude the beginnings of the Marist Family. On 23rd July 1816 twelve seminarians climbed the 800 steep steps from the City of Lyon to the Chapel of Our Lady of Fourvière. Here they committed themselves to the Marist project.
The Marist project has grown to be a family of five branches – Marist Father, Marist Sisters, Marist Brothers, Marist Missionary Sisters and Marist laity – with a presence throughout the world.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions it will not be possible in some countries for Marist to come together physically for prayer and celebration this year. This will not dampen our enthusiasm to recall the Fourvière event and to renew our own commitment to the Marist project. Online opportunities are being provided for Marists to connect, give thanks, recommit and celebrate. One such opportunity has been prepared by Marist Laity Australia. For information on how you can connect with Marist in Australia click here. All are welcome to join with Marists in prayer and thanksgiving on this day.
Marist Sisters celebrate the feast of their Foundress, Jeanne-Marie Chavoin each year on 30th June, the anniversary of her death.
After Jeanne-Marie’s death in 1858 the Superior General of the Marist Sisters at the time, Mother Ambrose, wrote to the sisters of the Congregation speaking of Jeanne-Maire’s “holy and exemplary life, her generous and unfailing devotedness.” She was described by one of the early Marist Sisters as “kind, affable with everyone and gained the affection of all who knew her. She was large-hearted and when she helped anyone she did so generously.”
Jeanne-Marie encouraged her sisters to “walk always in God’s presence” and “to live the life of this divine Mother, which is none other than the life of Christ”.
As Marist Sisters today recall her life with gratitude, we pray that her faith and courage will continue to inspire us as we strive to follow Christ by living the Gospel as Mary did.
Sr Rosemary Simon made her first Profession as a Marist Sister in the Merrylands Chapel on 6th March 1971 with Sister Carmel as her Novice Mistress. Rosemary still remembers that day with great clarity as both Sisters David and Carmel were present with all the Sisters in Merrylands at that time. Also present was her mother who travelled from Fiji for that special day. This wonderful occasion was celebrated with great dancing in the community room with Father Kevin Kehoe at the piano. Auntie Bonita Rounds and her mother danced the Tongan and Samoan Siva.
50 years later, on the anniversary of the day, Rosemary recommited herself to Jesus by renewing her vows during a special Jubilee Mass in the Mount St. Mary’s Church, Nadi. The Church was beautifully decorated with white orchids and pink antheriums. The main celebrant, a good friend of Rosemary, was Father John McEvoy scc (Columban), the friendship going back to the 1970’s when Rosemary was teaching at Xavier College, Ba.
Because of her Kiribati background, the hymns were a mixture of English, Fijian and Kiribati. The local blend of hymns sung by the Mission Choir of Lautoka was much appreciated by all who attended Mass. The members of the choir were made up mainly of Rosemary’s relatives. The Offertory was a Kiribati cultural dance which accompanied those who carried up the bread and wine. Concelebrating with Father John , were five other priests: Frs Joe McHugh sj, Dennis Levy sm, Lewis Henry sm, Fr Sanele (pp of Nadi town) and Fr Veremo (pp of Lautoka).
Following the Mass the guests went to the school Square for the formalities followed by the partaking of the delicious meal catered for mainly by Rosemary’s family. The venue was very convenient as the school verandahs provided ample space for people to sit, eat and enjoy the entertainment. All in all, it was a very joyful, meaningful and memorable occasion.
We thank God for the gift of Rosemary and we thank her for the generous gift of herself as a Marist to the Congregation for the mission of the Church, and we wish her many more years of joyful and fruitful service as Mary’s Presence in the Church.
Despite being in lockdown for six months due to Covid-19 Marist Sisters resident in St Joseph’s Aged Care are still deeply interested in Congregation and world events. Their passion and commitment is an inspiration to all of us. On behalf of the group Sr Marie Berise writes the following:
“We six Marist Sisters residing at St. Joseph’s Aged Care, Hunters Hill, New South Wales, Australia, have been in lockdown since the 19th March 2020, only leaving this place for important, necessary medical treatment. We received with joy the beautiful, inspiring Jubilee for the Earth – New Rhythms, New Hope” material. It resonates deeply with the groundswell happening in Australia to raise awareness of climate change and the desire to reach renewable energy targets by 2050, despite the coronavirus and bushfire issues. The Government – Federal and State – and the many local groups are active. We here – Josephite Sisters, lay women and ourselves – prayerfully do very small things, cultivating gardens, recycling waste materials and plastics. How encouraging to read Ross Garnaut, one of our top experts in this field, in his wonderful book about Australia’s low carbon opportunity citing Pope Francis’s Laudato Si as the “most rigorous, comprehensive and influential” treatment of the ethics, science and technology issues to protect our common home throughout the world. In Laudato Si no. 218 Pope Francis quotes the Australian Bishops calling all to ecological conversion. We look to the future of our world with renewed hope.”
Photo: L-R: Srs Joan McBride, Anne Saunders, Marie Clarke (seated) and Srs Marie Patricia Toomey, Patricia Bartley and Marie Berise Nash (standing)