“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.
Cerdon College Merrylands takes Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, Foundress of the Marist Sisters, as their College Patron. Each year around her feastday the College sets aside a day to celebrate Jeanne-Marie Chavoin within the school community. This year because of the limitations imposed by Covid-19 the College was not able to have a full school Mass. Therefore, a liturgical celebration was held within the school setting.
Jeanne-Marie Chavoin came ‘back to the future’ and was interviewed by a student in a 21st century context. The occasion this year also marked the end of 61 years of physical presence of a Marist Sister on the Cerdon College Staff. Sr Kate McPhee, after a long association with the College, finished serving in school ministry moving on to minster elsewhere.
There is no doubt that the Marist Spirit is truly alive and well among the staff and students of Cerdon College and the Marist Sisters are confident that Mary’s spirit will continue to permeate the life of the College Community into the future.
Fijian Marist Sister, Sr Mariana Tevurega, is Coordinator for Women’s Ministry on behalf of Caritas in the Archdiocese of Suva. Through the Women at the Well programme Mariana leads workshops and prayer sessions for women as well as working with parishes on the issue of violence against women and children. The following links will lead to to reports on some of the activities Mariana has been involved in.
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.
As part of the Human Rights component of their Legal Studies course, Year 12 students at Marist Sisters College Woolwich are studying Human Trafficking. Recently ACRATH member, Noelene Simmons sm, was a guest speaker for the class. The presentation included an explanation of what human trafficking is and the forms it takes in Australia and beyond, the legislation that exists in Australia to fight against this crime and the actions we can take to help in eliminating human trafficking and slavery. The students were very engaged throughout the presentation. Comments from the students include:
“Sister Noelene’s presentation opened my eyes to the injustice within the global community in relation to human trafficking and how we as young adults can act to strive for a more equal world.” (Emma)
“The presentation was really informative and helped me understand more about human trafficking and slavery issues within our world. The ethical brands booklet is very interesting, it’s good to learn more about the products I buy. (Cinzia)
“Sister Noelene’s presentation was engaging and really emphasised the ways that us as a community can make a difference in stopping modern day slavery” (Lauren)
In Fiji a celebration was held recently to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Marist Religious Profession for Srs Raitiera Teiti and Terube Ata. Because of Cyclone conditions, the original date for the jubilee was postponed till mid February. The two sisters had been in Rabi for their Christmas break so they had celebrated then with their close family, relatives and friends.
However, despite the rainy weather, the celebrations for Sisters Terube and Raitiera went off very well. On Friday, the choir from Lautoka braved the stormy weather and miraculously arrived in Suva, slept in the Lami classrooms and were ready to sing at the the next morning.
On the day of the celebration, the sun shone and we were filled with joy as we took part in the beautifully prepared liturgy. Mass in the Lami Parish Church at 11.00 am was full to capacity with sisters, friends, Religious and relatives. The main celebrant was Father Donal McElraith, Irish Columban who is closely associated with the Rabi Community. Rabi is the island off the coast of Taveuni where the Kiribati community from Ocean Island were rehabilitated because of Phosphate Issues. At present Rabi has produced two priests to the Columban Society and quite a number of girls have joined either the OLSH or the Marist Sisters. The Rabi Community is very proud of their Religious and in particular Sisters Terube and Raitiera. It was a touching moment when both the sisters knelt before the altar to renew their vows.
After the Mass, all the Marist Sisters and guests were invited to the school basement for the usual formalities, meal and entertainment. The decor in the basement expressed the feelings of joy and happiness for this auspicious occasion. The theme of the day was “Mary Going In Haste”. In Sister Terube’s speech, she explained the meaning of the theme…that is the Sisters are on mission with Mary in carrying out the work of Christ.
Following the meal in the school basement, the Sisters continued to mingle with friends and relatives and later we joined the Sisters as they opened their gifts. We finished the day with the Salve Regina. It was a great day and we thank God for the gifts of Terube and Raitiera, two very talented and hard working women in the Marist Congregation.
On the same day Lavenia Laweimoala began another step in her Marist journey when she was received as a novice in the presence of her parents and the Sisters.
In the Philippines the Marist Fathers Chanel Community joined the celebration of the opening of the Dental clinic for children at Balay Pasilungan. The newly blessed dental equipment enables Marist Sister Sheila Manalo SM (a dentist) to offer safe and covid-free clinic to children.
Founded by the Society of Mary in 1989, Balay Pasilungan is home to former street boys. They eat, sleep, play and pray as a family, supported by a social worker and house parents under the supervision of a Marist priest. Many of the boys also attend a local school.
[Photo: www.maristasia.org. Marist Community with Fr Gil Casio SM, the new executive director of Balay Pasilungan with their dentist, Sr Sheila Manalo SM]
The unveiling and blessing of the headstone for Sr Margarita Bourke took place on 28 December 2020. Margarita died on 8 April 2018. This Prayer Service took place at the urupa (cemetery) in the Far North in Waitaruke, one of the first places the Marist Sisters went to in 1927. Sr Rita Gardiner and Sr Aloyuisa are already buried there. Fr Anthony Trenwith conducted the Service and as well as Marist Sisters Kathleen, Catherine, Gemma and Lorraine, friends and relatives of Margarita also attended – about 35 in all. Sr Catherine and Bebe (Margarita’s niece) both unveiled the headstone as the blessing took place. Those attending socialized and met old and new friends over kai (food) to finish the day.