Celebrating the Marist Project

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.

Congratulations Sr Joan

On 15th July, Australian Marist Sister, Sr Joan McBride, celebrated the 70th Anniversary of her profession as a Marist Sister. Due to Covid-19 restrictions it was not possible for Joan to have visitors on the day. However the staff of St Joseph’s Aged Care Facility in Hunters Hill and other Marist Sisters resident in the facility did their best to make the day special for Joan.

We give thanks for Joan’s many years of faithful service and for the inspiration she has been to many. We ask God’s blessing on Joan as she continues living the Gospel as Mary did.

Chavoin Day at Cerdon College

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.

 

Ministering to Women in Fiji

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 Iulia Pua sm

Sr Iulia Pua sm was called to eternal life on Wednesday 14th April 2021.

Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord.
May perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.
Amen.

We extend our prayerful sympathy to the Marist Sisters in New Zealand and to Sr Iulia’s family. At her funeral on 19th April the members of her community, Srs Gemma Wilson and Tulua ‘Otuafi shared their memories of Iulia.

Gemma: The last thing Iulia said to us both the night before she died was, “I love you both”. Sometime before that she had said to someone else, “This is a lovely community”. We Marist Sisters value community life but we have to work at it! Here in our community we three did not always find it easy. We often had to say sorry. “Sorry Lia, sorry Lua”. But lately it had been easier.

Iulia was crazy! For instance, she had huge enthusiasms for different kinds of food: a while ago it was rhubarb, then parsley (we still have a lot of parsley growing in our garden!), then porridge, (that one lasted longer!) and so on.

However, her love for her little grandnephew Raymond was constant. She often used to bring him to our place. Many times we would find him asleep on the couch or on her bed or running around the house or playing with pegs, scattering them all over the living room floor. She made him part of our life.

Finally, I would like to say something about Iulia’s spirituality. She had a great love for the Word of God and was very faithful to reading and meditating on the readings for the day. And she found God in Creation, above all in her garden, especially the roses! She would call me to look at a rose which had just come out so that I could delight in it with her.

Tulua: In the evening I always go with Gemma for a walk.  As we walk along the road we always see lots of different kind of furniture that people put on the roadside for free and we think of Iulia. When we arrive home we say to each other “Don’t say anything to Iulia otherwise she might go and bring them home.”  We were getting worried that the things she collected might fill the house and we could end up living outside!  One day I was in my room and I heard her calling me.  I came out of my room and asked her what she wanted, Iulia said “There is a cupboard on the road  and I want you to help me to bring it home.”   I didn’t say anything at all so as to have a peaceful time!   We brought the cupboard in from the road and put it outside for her to store things for her garden.

The next day I was in my room and it was already dark. Iulia called me and asked me to go with her to the road and bring in another cupboard. Then the next day a truck arrived home with a big armchair for her! However, not long afterwards she changed her mind and had the chair taken away!

Last Sunday I was in our laundry and she called me and said,” You have to look after yourself. Make sure you are warm, and be kind to the children in your class and if you go with the small children for a trip make sure to wear proper shoes.

We love you so much Sr. Iulia. May You Rest in Peace.

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.

Marist Students Study Human Trafficking

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)

Celebrating Marist Commitment

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.

A video of the event may be viewed here.

Unveiling and Blessing

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.

 

Sr Philomena Hall sm

Sr Philomena Hall sm was called to eternal life on Wednesday 2nd December 2020.

Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord.
May perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.
Amen.

We extend our prayerful sympathy to the Marist Sisters in Australia and to Sr Philomena’s family. the following Words of Remembrance were delivered by Sr Julie Brand Philo’s funeral held at Holy Name of Mary Church Hunters Hill on 14th December.

Sr Philomena died very peacefully at St. Anne’s Nursing Home, Hunters Hill, on the morning of 2nd December.  When news of her death began to filter through the Nursing Home, the Staff were very saddened, telling us what a beautiful lady she was, how she never complained and how much they would miss her gentle presence.

Philo with members of her family

Sr Philomena – Margaret Patricia May Hall – affectionately known to us as Philo, was born on 1st May 1925 in Gloucester, NSW, the second youngest of six children.  The family moved to Belmore, Sydney, in 1933 but Philo never lost her great love for the Australian countryside. She completed her Primary Schooling at St. Joseph’s, Belmore, and Secondary Schooling at St. Brigid’s, Marrickville, before beginning work. Philo had happy memories of this period of her life, recalling joining the Parish Youth Group – a very united, active group that met at least twice a week and enjoyed dancing, socializing, sporting activities and working together on Parish projects.  It was while she was participating in a Parish mission that Philo began to recognize God’s invitation to Religious Life.  While resisting at first, Philo grew in readiness to accept the call. In a reflection she wrote that, after prayer and spiritual accompaniment, she was ready to say to God: “Whatever you want Lord, I want”.

Philo was received into the Marist Sisters’ Novitiate in Merrylands and made her First Profession on 8th September 1949.  The following year she began her Teacher Training at St Joseph’s, Mount Street, North Sydney, qualifying as an Infant and Primary Teacher.  Thus began her journey in the apostolate of Education, which spanned over 40 years, and through which she touched the lives of children and their families in New Zealand, Fiji and Australia.  Philo took up positions of leadership in Schools, and was always ready to assist other teachers and offer guidance and support.

Sr Philomena in Fiji

For approximately 32 years Philo was on mission in Fiji, teaching for many of those years in towns of the western district and in the Yasawa Islands. The Sisters of Fiji and her ex-students remember Philo as an excellent teacher, especially of infants – dedicated, kind, generous and hard-working – one who knew how to encourage her students, especially the slower readers – and who was always ready to give a helping hand to others, children and teachers alike. Philo was indeed loved by the Sisters and people of Fiji.  Ex-students, fellow teachers, parents and friends all around Fiji have been praying for Philo and giving thanks for her life of service in Mary’s Name. Philo’s gift of herself to Fiji was also very much supported by her family, whose generosity helped the mission of our Sisters there and the further growth of our Congregation in Fiji.  In particular the Hall family remember with affection Sr Maria Goretti Satoqi, to whom they opened their home in Belmore and provided a warm welcome when Maria Goretti came to Sydney in the mid-60’s to enter our Marist Novitiate.  Goretti is united with us today, saying once again “Vinaka Vaka Levu” to Philo and the Hall family.

Philo at Marian House

Philo settled back in Australia in the mid-90’s and was soon to begin a ministry of care and service in Marian House, Woolwich.  For many years she worked tirelessly in attending to the needs of the elderly Sisters, taking up the work of local Bursar and supporting the community.  Before we restructured Marian House in the early years of 2000, it was often Philo who showered Sisters and attended to their personal care. She always showed love for the frail Sisters and would visit the Nursing Home at St. Anne’s every Sunday morning to spend time with our Sisters in residence there.

Trevor, Mary & Philo with parents

Philo was an excellent Bursar who had a great gift for figures. She was competent in complex calculations such as wages and superannuation payments, well organised and meticulous. I believe her gifts and talents were also readily identified in other members of the Hall family.  Philo often spoke of her two brothers – Joe and Ben and their families, her sister Mary (who joined the Sisters of the Good Samaritan) and brother Trevor (a Christian Brother). She loved her family and enjoyed spending time with them, particularly holidaying in Ballina.

It was no secret that Philo was very determined – some would say stubborn – and stood her ground firmly and resolutely.  She could be fiery at times, and left you in no doubt about her stance on a matter in question. Philo was quite a fierce competitor too.  Sisters recall that she loved a game of cards and knew every card that had been played in a game of 500.  Woe betide you if you were her partner and had not kept track of the hands played! When Philo moved to St. Anne’s Nursing Home, she always participated in activities and particularly enjoyed Bingo.  Once again she was very well organised and it quite delighted me to see her arrange the markers in right order ready to cover the numbers when called.  She was often the winner!

Philo with Isimeli Cagica from Fiji

Philo took delight in nature, enjoying animals, birds, flowers and trees.  She loved the stars, the moon and the ocean.  One of her joys in latter years was to sit in the car by the water eating ice-cream and watching the pelicans. Philo was also artistic and would join in art and craft activities, colouring and decorating.

Philo – we thank God for you and Mary’s gracious choice of you.  It was your fervent desire to do great things for God in Mary’s way.  You have followed in Her footsteps and been faithful unto death.  Like Mary you prayed, “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord”.  You have surely done God’s Will and God now welcomes you into eternity.  Rest in peace.