Gathering with Sr Kate

The Marist Sisters in Australia met recently to welcome Sr Kate McPhee back to her homeland for her official visit of our Unit.  The gathering commenced with a welcome from Sr Gail, our Leader, who kept in mind our Sisters who were unable to attend.  

 An informal talk from Kate followed, outlining how the visit will take shape. Kate then went on to share snippets of news from around the Congregation which will assist in our understanding of where we are at and how we will proceed so as to enhance our Marist lifestyle throughout the world.  The talk concluded with a reflection and prayer, after which Kate distributed copies of our updated Constitutions from our General Chapter of 2022.

Gail thanked Kate for her input.  She also thanked her for returning for a few weeks to her previous position of Bursar after hearing of the sudden death of our Business Manager.  This included the employment of our new Business Manager and the appropriate handover.  As well as showing our appreciation of Kate, Gail mentioned our gratitude for Sr Sylvette Mane (Congregational Leader) and her team who made it possible for Kate to return to Australia early for this added assignment.  It was then appropriate for Gail to conclude her thanks with a gift to Kate on behalf of the Unit of Australia.  

 As Kate celebrated a significant birthday on 2nd May we commenced afternoon tea with our amazing singing skills, singing the birthday song and then relaxing and enjoying the social aspect of our gathering.

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. The following words of Remembrance were delivered at Marie Pat’s funeral by Sr Julie Brand.

Over 75 years ago – on 8 th September 1947 – Marie Pat made her First Profession in the Congregation of Mary, echoing Mary’s “Yes” of the Annunciation – the Feast of which our Church is actually celebrating today. Throughout her long life Marie Pat daily reiterated her “Yes” in union with Mary. It was Good Friday night when she made her final surrender to God. Uniting with Jesus in His last words, “It is accomplished”, she answered God’s final call and died peacefully after a lengthy period of suffering, which she had endured with great patience.

Marie Patricia Toomey was born on 23 rd September 1926 in Sandgate, Brisbane, the third child of Arthur and Margaret. She was a proud Queenslander and maintained strong and loving relationships with her older brothers, Jim and John (now deceased), her sister-in-law Mary, niece Pat, her husband Alan, and their family. Born of Irish heritage, Marie Pat delighted in her Irish roots, and kept in touch with cousins in Ireland, whom she had the joy of meeting when spending time overseas. While beginning her schooling in Sandgate, Queensland, Marie Pat completed her education in Mittagong, NSW, having been enrolled at Marist Sisters’ Woolwich, and evacuated with the Woolwich students due to the war. Upon leaving School Marie Pat spent time as a Telephonist before
entering our Marist Novitiate in Merrylands.

Marie Pat was Professed with the name “Benigna”, which she later changed in favour of her Baptismal name of Marie Patricia. She was a gifted musician and spent the early years of her ministry as a Music Teacher. She greatly appreciated classical music and introduced many students to the joy of playing Piano in Woolwich, in Mittagong, and throughout her time of education ministry in Aotearoa-New Zealand. Marie Pat spent around 28 years in New Zealand, including a significant period on the Maori mission in Waitaruke. Though always a dinky-di Aussie, we were very aware that she’d left part of her heart in the Land of the Long White Cloud. As a Primary School Teacher, Marie Pat also had the opportunity of teaching for a short time in Fiji. In 1983 she undertook studies at the Mater Hospital in Rockhampton to qualify as an Enrolled Nurse. Though she did not work for very long in this field of ministry, her care and compassion for the sick was at the forefront of her community living.

In 1992 Marie Pat had the privilege of assisting at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in England. At that time the Marist Fathers took care of the Shrine and were helped by the Marist Sisters in their ministry to pilgrims. Upon hearing of Marie Pat’s death, we received a message of condolence from a person who had been with Marie Pat in Walsingham. He spoke of his very good memories of working with her, saying that she brought a great presence to the Shrine in a truly Marist way. Upon her return to Sydney, Marie Pat continued the ministry she had begun a little earlier, taking up Library work at Cerdon College in Merrylands. Her ministry at Cerdon spanned 11 years, and Marie Pat formed strong bonds of friendship there, especially with Denise Hoeflake and her husband, Ralph, who remained close to her till the end of her life.

From 2007 until 2018, Marie Pat was an active member of the Marian House community, offering support in many practical and varied ways. She had always been a hard-worker with a great generosity of spirit, and this was very evident at Marian House despite her increasing age. Marie Pat was a homemaker and always on the look-out to provide whatever the Sisters might need. She loved shopping, and was alert to a bargain, particularly in regard to clothing. I think most Sisters have been the recipient of a skirt, a blouse, or a jacket that Marie Pat could not resist picking up when the quality was good and the price was low! She was the first to take a cup of tea to a frail Sister in bed, to get the supper ready for special gatherings, or to check that the chef had prepared the evening  soup to her satisfaction. Having been a cook in her day, she was keen to ensure that food served to older Sisters met the standards she was convinced were appropriate for the elderly. There were days, however, when she was met with disappointment and found it necessary to express her strong disapproval! Marie Pat did speak her mind and it would be true to say that she was not the most patient of people! She was an organizer who always thought ahead, and with the needs of others at the forefront of her mind, it was Marie Pat who kept us on track, reminding us to book the appointments for the Hairdresser, the Podiatrist, or indeed the Car Services. Marie Pat continued to look out for the needs of others when she moved to St Joseph’s Aged Care. Her kindness and compassion was always evident. Marie Pat had a quick wit and good sense of humor. She had a twinkle in the eye and often made us laugh with a funny turn of phrase or an entertaining story. She loved nature, especially the birds – particularly the magpies – whose markings, movements and foraging she enjoyed watching.

Being a woman of deep faith, Marie Pat greatly appreciated the pastoral ministry of the Marist Fathers, who attended to the spiritual needs of the residents at Marian House and St. Joseph’s. As her health declined, she was comforted through the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, most recently administered to her by Fr. Brian, whose friendship she valued. As Marie Pat’s care needs increased, the Staff at St. Joseph’s remained vigilant in their attention to her. We are most grateful for the professional and compassionate care provided by them and by Dr. Grace Kong. Marie Pat was a prayerful woman, who lived the Gospel in the spirit of Mary. She responded to God’s transforming grace, living the last months of her life patiently waiting, and accepting her total dependence with peaceful resignation. God looked upon her lovingly and welcomed her to Paradise on Good Friday night, 29 th March. We know she will continue to pray for us, interceding for our needs. Marie Pat, we will miss you. May you rest in peace.

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

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.

Welcome Home Viv

The room was filled with joy and conversation when the Marist Sisters in Australia gathered at Hunters Hill to welcome  Sr Vivienne Goldstein back to the Unit of Australia.  In 2015 Vivienne was elected to the Marist Sisters General Council and so lived in Rome until 2022. After a period of renewal Viv has now returned home to Australia. It is great to have you back among us Viv.

The gathering also gave the sisters an opportunity to catch up with Sr Kate McPhee who was soon to return to Rome.

Marist New Year Gathering

Thanks to the hospitality of the Marist Fathers Community Maryvale/Montbel a number of Marist Fathers, Marist Sisters, Marist Missionary Sisters and Marist Brothers were able to gather to celebrate the beginning of 2023 at Montbel on 5th January. The level of chatter and laughter signified a good time was had by all.

 

 

 

 

Sr Julia Lourey sm

 

Sr Julia Lourey sm was called to eternal life on Tuesday 20th December 2022.

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 Julia’s family.

At her funeral on Friday 30th December the following words of remembrance were delivered by Sr Carmel Murray sm.

When Sr. Julia, baptised Patricia Bridget Lourey, was asked recently to name some of the
highlights of her life, the first one she mentioned was her First Holy Communion Day, 24 th
September, 1930, when she said she danced all the way to the church with lots of turns, and
her veil flying out around her. This is a delightful image to have as we come today to farewell our much loved Sr. Julia, 99 years and 9 months young. This joy in living was to bring smiles and laughter into the lives of the many people whom Julia met on her long and varied journey as a Marist Sister, and she did this simply by being true to the person she was.

Julia was born in Marrickville on 20 th March, 1923, the eldest child of Patrick and Rita Lourey; she was baptised in Lewisham, but her heart belonged to Mudgee, a country town in New South Wales, where she grew up in a family of 10 children, 2 girls and 8 boys. Here
she enjoyed the love and security of a big family, where the faith of her parents was alive in their midst and was the guiding principle of their lives. Naturally, this family had many challenges to face in those days of the Great Depression and later the war years, but
whenever Julia spoke of her early years, it was with sheer delight in belonging to such a loving and exuberant family. This love of family was to stay with her all her days. She always referred to her mother as ‘her wonderful little Mother’, and took great pleasure in recalling all the pranks that her brothers used to get up to, often at the expense of her ‘little Mother’. I have no doubt that Julia herself took a leading role in these capers.

On leaving school, Julia became a subsidised teacher for three years and then a receptionist and telephonist. By this time she was living back in Lewisham, but at the age of 33 she heard the call to religious life, and entered the Marist Sisters, Merrylands, in 1954. The Novitiate period must have been quite challenging as she was considerably older than the other novices. But her faith was deep and strong and with an ability to find humour in most difficult situations, she persevered and was professed on 23 rd January, 1956.
Julia’s life experiences prior to her entering religious life were to support her in the varied ministries she engaged in during her many years as a religious. She clung to the strong faith that she had imbibed in her early years; it was evident that Jesus and Mary were very much part of her being. In her funeral booklet, she states that ‘The only treasure worth striving for in life is Jesus. He comes to us in many guises”.

Combined with this love of Jesus and Mary was a strong love and commitment to all things Marist. Julia could be quite a formidable woman in her religious views and did not take kindly to change, but her sense of humour and openness to and compassion for people
overcame any tendency to be too dogmatic. After First Profession as a Marist Sister, Julia taught in St. Margaret Mary’s Primary School
and later was appointed Principal. In 1972, she was appointed Education Supervisor for the Marist Sisters Primary Schools. She believed in traditional teaching methods and held high expectations of teachers and students. She also engaged in teaching ministries in  Woolwich and Gladstone., Queensland, and then pastoral work in Mackay, Blacktown and Merrylands.

Teaching boys was her speciality and many the tales she spun of the exploits of her boys, always with much humour and exaggeration in the telling. Having grown up in a household of boys, she knew lots about various sports, and it was no surprise to see her coaching a Rugby League football team at St. Margaret Mary’s. Her boys revered her and some kept in contact over the years. When Julia was a resident in John Woodward Aged Care Apartments in Merrylands, some of her former students from those early days even visited her there. It was during her teaching days that Julia’s gift for ministering to families became evident. Her down-to-earth approach, together with a common touch and empathy with struggling families, drew people to her. A willingness to listen and understand their situations gave them great comfort and strength. Her sense of humour also helped. Many families in Merrylands, Gladstone and Mackay all attest to this.

When her teaching days were over, Julia spent 10 happy years in Mackay, doing pastoral work among the school families and enjoying chaplaincy work with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She loved life in Queensland but returned to Merrylands to become Community leader and also to do some pastoral work among the residents of Gilroy Village. Later in Blacktown she ministered mainly among the senior parishioners. And during all these years, Julia lived with some serious health issues, the recurring one being a very bad back.

On retirement, Julia was appointed to Marian House. Here, she was always a willing listener for those who needed encouragement or just a chat. She had a flourishing telephone ministry and enjoyed crocheting items for family and the sisters. She would often compose
verses for significant occasions, e.g. Jubilees, birthdays. She carried with her this great love of people when she moved into care in the John Woodward Apartments, in Merrylands. Residents and staff shared their joys and problems with her and left with spirits uplifted. On a lighter note, she who normally disdained Bingo, actually became a Caller, bringing laughter with her witty approach.

Julia was a faithful and faith-filled Marist sister who throughout her long life spread the joy of discipleship wherever she went. To the last she was true to her God and never doubted that He would always be true to her and would welcome her into Paradise with open arms. I finish with her own verse: ‘ Memory of Me’.

MEMORY OF ME – Julia Lourey.
I’d like the Memory of me,
To be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow
Of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo
Whispering softly down the ways
Of happy times and laughing times
And bright and sunny days.

I’d like the tears of those who grieve
To dry before the sun
Of happy memories I leave
When my life is done.

Celebrating our Jubilarians

Marist Sisters in Australia gathered to celebrate our sisters celebrating jubilees – Srs Clare Francis and Marie Patricia, both 75 years professed, and Sr Fidelis McTeigue, 60 years professed. The celebration of the Eucharist in the Marist Fathers Montbel Chapel, Hunters Hill was presided over by Fr Paul Mahony sm. During the Eucharist the sisters renewed their vows.

Following the Mass all those present shared a light lunch together. A highlight of the lunch was the cutting of the Jubilee cake by the three jubilarians.

We congratulate our jubilarians and wish them many blessings as they continue to live their Marist commitment.

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.