Golden Jubilee Celebration in Fiji

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.

Click on images to see enlarged version.

From the “Depths” and “Heights” of Lockdown

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)

Celebrating in Sydney

A number of Marist Sisters in Sydney gathered to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. The afternoon began with a time of prayerful reflection during which the sisters, recalling they have been called by gracious choice to bear Mary’s name,  renewed their vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions some sisters were unable to be present but they were not forgotten as messages from them were shared. Following the prayer a scrumptious afternoon tea was enjoyed. The opportunity to gather was very much appreciated especially during these Covid times.

Holy Name of Mary

Let Marists always bear in mind
that they belong by a gracious choice
to the family of the blessed Mary,
Mother of God.
In her name they are called Marists.
(Spirit of the Society of Mary)

As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Mary each year on 12th September, Marists throughout the world reflect on the privilege and the responsibility of bearing the name of Mary. We are reminded anew that we have committed ourselves “to think, to judge, to feel and to act as Mary did.” Mary was a woman of faith who responded to the needs of those around her.

May Marists be faithful to living the gospel as Mary did and so be instruments of God love and mercy in our world today.

Foundress Day 2020

Each year on 30th June Marist Sisters throughout the world celebrate the life of their Foundress, Jeann-Marie Chavoin. She is remembered as a courageous, large-hearted and generous woman. Her deep faith in God and love of Mary enabled her to be always ready to render service to those in need.

During these days when our world is in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic may her words inspire us and give us hope:

“We must have confidence. God is not dead. We must count on Providence. It has never let us down and it will not fail us today. God will come to our help.”

Gathering as Community

In Fiji, the two Marist Sisters’ communities of Nadi and Nadelei came together at Mount St Mary’s Nadi on Saturday 15th February to have a full days programme with two of our General Councillors, Sisters Anne McCabe and Viennese Goldstein. It was a real privilege to have our day facilated  by Srs Anne and Vivienne.

 

The sessions were not only prayerful but enabled and empowered the sisters to share at a deep level through a process of sharing, role play and a video clip. The process was a very creative way of building community. We learned that what we bring to community is our own individual personalities that can blend to uplift our Marist lifestyle. The video clip and handouts helped us to reflect on Effective Listening. Listening is a skill that will help us to listen carefully and purposely.

 

Our final prayer of Consecration to Mary was a fitting end to a day inspired by the Holy Spirit. We felt the presence of God in our sharing and listening.

Chavoin House Mass at Marist College

Empowerment through Presence was the theme of the recent Chavoin House Mass at Marist College Mt Albert, New Zealand. Sr Seini Fatai presented the following reflection during the Mass:

Empowerment through Presence
Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, Foundress of the Marist Sisters

Life is full of mysteries and we often wonder how we may ever solve some of them. I am sure that you young women of our Marist School often wonder what your future might be. Whether you are going to fulfil your dream to become a doctor or marry a handsome and successful guy or whether you are going to be a caring mother of some beautiful children, or better still perhaps a Marist Sister.

Some of the mysteries of my life began to unfold when I was as young person like you. Growing up, I really looked up to my dad because he had a way of empowering me to be the best person I could be. My dad was my greatest role model for he helped me unfold some of the mysteries in my life.

As a young person Jeanne-Marie Chavoin too was influenced by her father as she was discerning God’s will in her life. But life was a big mystery for her too, as she did not know what God wanted her to do but she waited, listened in prayers and answered His call and that is how we have our congregation of the Marist Sisters.

Chavoin’s life showed a great sense of balance. What do I mean by that? That means that she lived her life knowing that prayer and service must go hand in hand. She believed that God’s Loving Presence in the Eucharist gave meaning and spiritual power to her work. Chavoin believed that her prayer life provided her with purpose and meaning for doing her work well.

Father Colin, the founder of the Marist Family, affirms this, saying “In all the three branches of the Society (Marist Fathers, Marist Brothers and the Marist Sisters), Chavoin is the person with the greatest spirit of prayer. I believe that Fr Colin would have agreed with me that Jeanne-Marie Chavoin is a woman of balance and one who empowered people with whom she came in contact.

In our Gospel today, we see that Mary, the mother of Jesus empowered people through her attentive and loving presence at the Wedding feast in a place called Cana in Galilee. Mary noticed that the wine for the party was nearly finished so to avoid embarrassment for the host family she took the matter to Jesus. Because Mary was attentive to her Son, a positive result came about. People had lots of wine to drink. Jeanne-Marie Chavoin did learn from Mary how to be a woman of empowerment through her presence in every situation.

One of the things that we could all learn from Jeanne-Marie Chavoin is to be people (men and women) of prayer an action here in our Marist College community. If she were here today, she would remind us all, that God is the source of strength and power, and our work and learning here in this school can only find meaning in God through prayer. So, how often do you spend time talking and listening to God? As we leave today from this Eucharistic celebration, let us remind ourselves that God is always wanting to have a chat with us. Are we ready?

 

A Foundress is Born

Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, Foundress of the Marist Sisters, was born on 29th August 1786 in the French village of Coutouvre. Her father, Théodore Chavoin, was a tailor, while her mother, Jeanne Verchère,  worked as a servant.

Jeanne-Marie Chavoin spent 30 years of her life in the village of Coutouvre. From the front door of her family home she could see the village square and the church just beyond. Jeanne-Marie’s life in Coutouvre was people-oriented. From the Chavoin home her father ran a tailor’s shop. Customers came daily, exchanging the latest news, sharing the joys and concerns of the village.

God of creation,
we praise and thank you for the birth of Jeanne-Marie Chavoin,
our foundress, Mother St Joseph.
We thank you for her parents, Théodore and Jeanne,
for their love, their courage, their acceptance of responsibility and all they taught Jeanne-Marie.
May our foundress intercede for us today,
that we may present a Marian face in our world –
a face of compassion, understanding and love,
a face which accepts people as they are,
yet encourages them to grow in goodness.
With them, may we be brought forth to the life of grace.
We pray this in the name of Jesus your Son.

Recommitting to the Fourviere Pledge

“All to God’s greater glory and to the honour of Mary,
the Mother of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
(Fourviere Pledge, 23rd July 1816)

Each year Marists throughout the world recall the day in July 1816 when twelve seminarians climbed the stairs in Lyons to the chapel of Our Lady of Fourviere to commit themselves to beginning a congregation in Mary’s name, a Congregation whose sole motive would be to work “for God’s greater glory” by following the example of Mary. Marists gather on this day to celebrate and recall the courage and commitment of the founding Marists who believed that just as Mary was present in the early Church she is present with us today, guiding and supporting us. This day is also an opportunity for Marists to renew their commitment to be Mary’s presence in the world today attentive to the needs of those who are in need of God’s compassionate love.

In Australia the day was marked by a celebration of the Eucharist at Hunters Hill. Marists from all branches – Laity, Sisters, Brothers, Missionary Sisters and Priests – participated in the celebration during which all prayed anew the Pledge of Fourviere.