Sr Marie Patricia Toomey sm

Sr Marie Patricia Toomey sm was called to eternal life on Friday 29th March 2024.

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 Marie Patricia’s family.

Sr Lavinia Henry sm

Sr Lavinia Henry sm was called to eternal life on Friday 20th October 2023.

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 Fiji and to Sr Lavinia’s family.

General Councillor Welcomed in Fiji

It was with great joy that the Marist Sisters in Fiji welcomed General Councillor, Sr Mari Aranda, to Fiji. Mari was elected to the General Council of the Marist Sisters in May 2022. This is her first official visit to Fiji.

During her visit Mari will visit the Marist Sisters communities and learn of their history and mission involvement since 1892. She will also encourage the sisters in their Marist vocation and share news of other parts of the Congregation.

The Sisters in Fiji are delighted to have Mari visit them. Mari presented the sisters with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and shared with them the story behind the image.

 

Sisters in Fiji Gather

Marist Sisters in Fiji recently gathered for their annual Assembly. This wonderful event was held in their new convent in Nadi. It was faciliated by Marist Father Samu Tukidia and Unit Leader, Sr Mariana Tevurega. They led the sisters throughout the weekend using the synodal process.

Every voice of the sisters was heard resulting in very meaningful participation and discussion. They considered issues related to Unit and Community Life.

Celebrating Anniversaries

In Australia, 8th September was a double celebration. We joined in spirit with Marist Sisters throughout the world in celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Marist Sisters. On 8th September 1823 Jeanne Marie Chavoin and Marie Jotillon, with the permission of the Bishop of Belley, came to live together in the parish of Cerdon, France, and so began the Marist Sisters.

We also celebrated our Jubilarians and their almost 200 years of Marist commitment – Sr Marie Clarke (70years), Sr Mary Farrelly (60 years) and Sr Gemma Pearson (60 years). The sisters were grateful to Fr Kevin Stewart sm who presided at the Eucharist celebrated in the Marist Fathers chapel at Hunters Hill. Towards the end of Mass each Jubilarian received a papal blessing.

Following the Mass the sisters were delighted to share a simple meal together. It was a time to reflect and share on our Marist call and that of our Jubilarians. To mark the 200th anniversary of our congregation each sister was presented with a Congregation medal and a bookmark on which was found the following prayer:

Today, may we open our hearts and ears to hear the call, that simple call.
May our open doors witness the simplicity, poverty and joy of our first community.
May God bless us!

May we continue to respond to Mary’s gracious choice.
May we realise the wonder of our calling.
May young women be drawn to our doorsteps.

Mary of Cerdon, remember Jeanne Marie’s prayer
and walk hand in hand with us. Amen

Blessing of Nadi Convent and Chapel

It was in a spirit of joy and thanksgiving that Marist Sisters in Fiji and their friends recently gathered in  Nadi for the blessings of their new convent and chapel. Fr Veremo, the Vicar for the West, was appointed by Archbishop Peter Loy to conduct the ceremony. Five priests concelebrated the Mass and assisted with the blessing ritual. Following the ceremony there was a celebratory meal. The new convent has been purpose built to cater for the elderly and those needing extra care.

 

Sr Joan McBride sm

Sr Joan McBride sm was called to eternal life on Saturday 24th June 2023.

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 Joan’s family.

At Joan’s funeral at Holy Name of Mary Parish, Hunters Hill, the following Words of Remembrance were delivered by Sr Julie Brand.

It is fitting that we gathered in Holy Name of Mary Church, Hunters Hill, for it was there that Joan Carmel McBride was confirmed, aged 11 – the Church in which her parents had married in 1913. Though Joan was born in Katoomba and baptised there in St. Canice’s Church, she moved with her family to Hunters Hill at an early age. Joan was the youngest child of Muriel and Bernard McBride, and remained very close to her three brothers and three sisters – Mary, Barbara, Bernard, Ruth (who joined the Dominican Congregation), John and David. Joan’s siblings and later, their respective families, were always a vital part of Joan’s life.

Joan was introduced to the Marist spirit in her formative years, completing both her Primary and Secondary education with the Marist Sisters in Woolwich and Mittagong. After finishing her schooling she took up a Secretarial position. As a young woman, Joan was drawn to the charism of the Congregation of Mary and, desiring to consecrate her life to God, she applied to enter the Marist Sisters. Just before her 21st Birthday she was received into the Novitiate in Merrylands, and it was there that she made her first Profession in 1951. Known as Sr Aquinas during her early years of ministry, she was later to return to her Baptismal name – Joan Carmel.

Joan lived her Marist Religious life with loving faithfulness and wholehearted commitment, witnessing to the Gospel in the spirit of Mary, and being always ready to fit in wherever she could be of service – taking up roles of responsibility within the Congregation as well as those of external ministries. From her earliest days, Joan’s talents and abilities were recognised. She was given opportunities to undertake University studies, while showing a keen aptitude for teaching, particularly History. She excelled as a Secondary School Educator, and was appointed Principal at Marist Sisters’ College, Woolwich, and Cerdon College, Merrylands. Joan had great love for learning and was keen that others be given every opportunity to reach their potential. In particular, she worked to ensure that our Sisters in missionary areas, as well as here in Australia, had opportunities for furthering their education and undertaking tertiary studies. As Principal, Joan was very supportive of staff, students and families, and had particular care and compassion for those who were struggling or disadvantaged – always assisting in a quiet and unassuming way. Joan spent a year teaching in Fiji before her appointment, in 1983, to Mackay, Queensland. Recognised as a gifted educator and an insightful, perceptive leader, Joan was asked to take up leadership of a pioneering Education venture in Mackay. Together with a small community of Marist Sisters, she journeyed north to begin Emmanuel Catholic School in the Diocese of Rockhampton – initially a Year 1 to 10 School. Joan loved her experience in Mackay and was greatly respected there. In the words of one of her Deputies, she was a “guiding light of Emmanuel in its formative years”.

In 1991, Joan’s ministry took a new direction. Her aptitude for History equipped her well to focus upon Archival practice, and she soon became a very able and methodical Archivist, ensuring the preservation of our Marist historical documents, not only here in Australia, but also in our General Archives in Rome and in other parts of the Congregation. She readily assisted other Religious in Australia who sought her help to establish and/or maintain their Archives.

Joan was a thorough, historical researcher and during this period she completed three major works – the first, a History of the Marist Sisters in Fiji. This work was originally presented as a thesis – part of Joan’s degree of Master of Letters, through the University of New England, Armidale, which she had begun as an external student some years previously. Following the publication of this work in 1991, Joan completed a study of the development of the Constitutions of our Congregation with particular reference to the history of change in administration; and then a History of the Marist Sisters in Australia.

Joan was reserved in nature – a private person – who also possessed a good sense of humour. She loved classical music and art, enjoyed sport, and was adept at knitting. She was hard-working and always generous with her time and talents. Though outstanding in her fields of ministry, Joan did not draw attention to herself and her own achievements, or cling to the familiar. She was ready to embrace new challenges, consistently offering herself when expressions of interest in a new mission venture were sought. How fitting that she died on the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, who proclaimed: “He must increase, I must decrease”.

Throughout her life Joan faced many difficulties, including serious health issues and periods of illness. However, these experiences – b

orn with patience and strong faith – did not deter her from remaining focussed on the Work of Mary entrusted to her. Through her

Marist studies, Joan deepened her knowledge, and love for the Congregation. She believed it essential that the inter-relationship between our Founders, Jeanne-Marie Chavoin and Jean Claude Colin, be fully grasped and valued. Joan’s great desire was to help Sisters, particularly the young members of the Congregation – especially those in missionary countries – develop their knowledge of Marist history, and be confident in speaking of the Marist charism as they continued to draw others to Mary’s Way in the Church of today.

When diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia, Joan was very accepting and spoke about it quite openly. While the illness slowly robbed Joan of her memory and clarity of speech, she gradually became less measured in her interactions and we saw a lighter side of Joan. The Staff at St. Anne’s warmed to her readily and, up until the last weeks of her life, she made us all smile and laugh quite often. Joan seemed always pleased to see her visitors and often had much to say. I got the impression that she observed the activity around her, aware that the Staff were running from one task to the other, and she wanted us to know how busy they were. We are very grateful for the care and consideration given to Joan during her years of residency at St. Joseph’s and St Anne’s. The attention she was given and the gentle, pastoral and spiritual support she received, particularly in the last week of her life, touched us greatly and we are deeply appreciative.

We thank Joan for her faithful Marist commitment and her deep love for our Congregation. She has left us a wonderful legacy through her writings, words and actions. Joan did “All for the greater glory of God, and the honour of Mary.” May she rest in peace.

 

Celebrating 40 Years

Emmanuel Catholic School opened in 1983. At the invitation of the Bishop of Rockhampton the Marist Sisters were invited to administer the new school. Recently Sr Noelene Simmons, a former staff member of Emmanuel, was invited to return to Mackay for the 40th anniversary celebrations. It was a great joy for her to join with the Emmanuel community at the 40th Anniversary Mass held in St Joseph’s Parish Church, North Mackay and then attend the anniversary dinner. Many former staff members and students attended these celebrations.

While in Mackay Noelene shared the Marist story and answered questions about the history of Emmanuel and her life and mission as a religious sister with students in all year levels at Emmanuel. She also talked about modern slavery and explained that choosing Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance approved chocolate, coffee and tea can make a real difference in the lives of children and adults working in these industries. Noelene was also invited to speak at the Holy Spirit College assembly, the College staff meeting and to a number of Yr 8 and 12 classes. Holy Spirit College was initially part of Emmanuel. The two schools are situated on the same campus and share a close relationship.

Both Emmanuel Catholic Primary School and Holy Spirit College value their Marist foundation. The Marist Cross is proudly displayed on the administration buildings and in classrooms.

Congratulations Jubilarians

A wonderful celebration was recently held in New Zealand for three Marist Sisters celebrating Jubilees: Patricia Bowley (75 years), Sr. Juliana (70 years) and Sr. Francine (60 years).

Mass of the Holy Name of Mary was celebrated by Fr. Pat Breeze SM  in the Mt Albert Convent Chapel. This was followed by a delicious catered lunch.

Later everyone gathered in the Mt Albert community room where presents were opened, speeches made, and cake was cut. It was truly a wonderful occasion.