Blessings for Christmas

For a child has been born for us,
A son given to us;
Authority rests on his shoulders;
And he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Might God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6)

 

The Marist Sisters send all our friends and supporters prayerful wishes for a Christmas and New Year rich in blessings. May this Christmas be a time of peace and joy as we once again welcome the Christ child into our lives.

Justice Conversation in Australia

A group of Marist Sisters gathered in Sydney recently to consider how we as Marist Sisters, each according to her situation, might respond to the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation issues which seem paramount for us. Our concerns for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation are rooted in the Gospel and its call to live as disciples of Jesus. We are also impelled by the Church’s social teaching which Pope Francis draws on and is articulating in many ways, and by our Marist vocation to live Mary’s spirit in all aspects of our lives.

 

This conversation highlighted the many ways in which sisters are responding to a variety of issues in our prayer, in interactions, small or large, that we might have with people, in our support of particular advocates and agencies, in our reading and gathering of information. The sisters left the meeting energised and with renewed commitment to seek justice for those who are vulnerable and for our common home.

 

Feast of the Holy Name of Mary

…It is my wish and the wish of my Son,
that there be another Society, one consecrated to me,
in which they will bear my name,
which will call itself the Society of Mary
and whose members will call themselves Marists…
(Le Puy revelation)

The feast of the Holy Name of Mary, 12th September, is a special day for Marist Sisters. On this day the sisters recall they have been “called by a gracious choice…to bear the name of Mary”.  It is also the day the sister renew the commitment they made on their first profession day…

I renew my vows of chastity, poverty and obedience
in the Congregation of Mary
according to the Constitutions of this Congregation.

With Mary, our Mother, as guide,
I desire to remain faithful to my calling to follow Christ,
by living the Gospel as Mary did
in this Congregation which bears her name.

You are invited to join with the Sisters in honouring Mary on this day and giving thanks to God for Mary who is our Mother, our Model and our Guide.

Bearing the Name of Mary

Marist Sisters from the Merrylands, Marrickville and Marsfield communities in Sydney gathered on 11th September to anticipate the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. This feast, observed on 12th September each year, holds special significance for Marist Sisters as we recall the gift, and the responsibility, that is ours in being called to live the Gospel as Mary did and to bear her name.

Prayer and Beauty in the Philippines

On 26  July, Unit Leader Sr Jane Frances and members of the Marist Sisters community in Davao, the Philippines, Srs Edna, Sheila, Lilibeth and April and candidate Hai left early to go to the Benedictine Monastery just south of Digos, about an hours journey, for their annual retreat.

During the next 6 days they journeyed through the theme of the Love, Mercy and Compassion of our God.  They had a beautiful, spiritual time together reflecting, creating and praying during their ‘masked retreat’.

Following the retreat, during their journey home, they visited the most beautiful “Cactus Farm” –  and were amazed at the variety of cacti on display.

Celebrating in Australia

Marist Sisters in Australia gathered on 23rd July to mark three significant events. Firstly they acknowledged the anniversary of the Promise of Fourviere on 23rd July 1816. On this day a group of seminarians pledged themselves to beginning a congregation in Mary’s name. Beginning the afternoon with prayer the sisters remembered the Fourviere event and reflected on the gift of the Marist Spirit that has been passed down for over 200 years.

Secondly, the gathering was an opportunity to welcome Sr Grace Ellul home to Australia after serving as Congregation Leader for 7 years, and to thank her for her commitment and service during those years.

At the Marist Sisters General Chapter held earlier this year, Sr Kate McPhee was elected as a General Councillor. Kate will soon be leaving for Rome. While she will be greatly missed in Australia, the sisters expressed their love and support for Kate as she takes up this new role which she has generously accepted as God’s call.

Synodality – Participation, Communion, Mission

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.

Unit Gathering in Sydney

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.

 

Renewal of Vows in New Zealand

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!

Congratulations Tulua.

Celebrating a Founder

“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.