Marist Sisters Birisita and Valeria took part in World Human Rights Day activities in Fiji. They joined in a clean-up campaign of Lami town then went on to join in a march that took place through Suva City. It started from the flea market and made its way to the Peace Garden at the Suva Civic Centre. This March was led by “Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre” on behalf of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights after a lapse of three years.
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Today, 15th November 2012, marks the beginning of the Colin Year. Fr John Hannan, Superior General of the Society of Mary, has launched a special year to honour the Founder. Among other things he wrote: As he (Colin) understood his time and responded to it, so we too, drawing from his wisdom and example, can respond to the needs of our times and engage wholeheartedly with the mission of our Society.
Marist Sisters will take this opportunity to deepen our understanding of the man we too call Father Founder, so that we may engage more wholeheartedly with the mission which is ours today.
Visit the Jean Claude Colin website to learn more about his life and vision.
On the Feast of the Annunciation the First Profession of Srs Biri and Val was celebrated with great joy in Mintal, the Philippines. Fr. Pat Muckian SM was the celebrant. Congregational Leader of the Marist Sisters, Sr Jane Frances O’Carroll, and Regional Leader of the Marist Sisters in Asia-Pacific, Sr Julie Brand, were present as were all Marist Sisters of the Philippine Sector.
They were joined by members of the Marist Fathers, Marist Brothers, Marist Laity, friends and neighbours. Sr Jane Francis, Congregational Leader, received Biri’s and Val’s Vows.
Biri and Val were peaceful and happy as they celebrated this special event. After Mass, and the taking of photos, a delicious meal was shared. Biri and Val received many loving messages from Sisters in the Region and beyond.
Following consultation of the sisters of the Region Sr Jane Frances, Congregational Leader, appointed the new Regional Leadership Team for Marist Sisters in Asia-Pacific. The new team with Sr Julie Brand as Leader and Srs Margaret Vaney and Vivienne Goldstein as Regional Councillors began their mandate in August 2011.
On 2nd February as we celebrated the World Day for Consecrated Life, new leadership teams began their three year mandate within each Sector of the Region.
Sector Leader: Sr Gemma Wilson
Assistants: Srs Analulu Tanuvasa & Catherine Lawson
Sector Leader: Sr Gail Reneker
Assistants: Srs Grace Ellul & Catherine Lacey
Sector Leader: Sr Mariana Tevurega
Assistants: Srs Marlene Giblin & Salome Dilagi
Sector Leader: Srs Torika Wong
Assistants: Sr Monica Lum
Ana Manueli was born on the island of Rotuma on 20th January 1940. Although politically linked with Fiji since 1881, Rotuma has its own distinct character – as did our Sister Blaise. She did her primary education at Sumi, a village on her home island and then when she was 15 years old travelled the considerable distance to Levuka, Fiji to do two years at the Commercial School which was run by the Marist Sisters. A couple of years later at the age of 19 Ana left “home and country” to take up Marist religious life. This meant travelling a much greater distance to Merrylands in Sydney for her initial formation under the direction of Mother Romanus for the first year. Ana was professed in June 1961 as Sister Blaise and remained in Sydney for another seven years. During this time she lived in Woolwich and then again in Merrylands, completing her secondary studies and assisting with domestic duties, including cooking.
The Sisters in Australia have very fond memories of those days, remembering Blaise as bright and quick-witted with a larger than life personality. It was around this time she became renowned for her ability to cook for over a hundred boarders, keep the kitchen spick and span and still have time for scrabble playing her right hand against her left!! A little later when cooking at Merrylands she became known for her Saturday night hot curries which reduced Sr David’s novices to coughing fits and – much to their delight – brought an end to the silence of the evening meal.
In 1969 Blaise returned to Fiji where she did her teacher training at Corpus Christi. In 1971 she took up the role of head teacher at the Yasawas. From then on her characteristic strength, compassion and humour took her from one leadership role to another. These included head teacher at St Agnes Samabula and in Levuka; supervisor of the Commercial School in Lautoka and boarder mistress at Cawaci; care giver in Nadi; bursar in Vatukoula and Levuka, local leader in Levuka, Lautoka, Vatukoula and Lami. With great generosity Blaise also gave community service for over two years at Marian House in Sydney as well for three years in our general house in Rome.
For the past few years Blaise was back at Levuka where she first met the Marist Sisters. Again she held positions of responsibility – local leader for five years and recently local bursar. Some time ago her sight began to deteriorate so earlier this year Blaise moved to the Nadi community. It was there on 27th June this year that Blaise celebrated 50 years of Marist religious life with Sisters, family and friends who joined her for this very happy occasion.
There was joy and excitement in the air the morning of Monday, October 10th – Fiji Independence Day. During the first part of the morning, Blaise and Sr Maria Goretti were busy printing the Archdiocesan Vision Statement in our four major languages: English, Rotuman, Fijian and Hindi. The rest of the morning Blaise spent filling in her cross-word puzzle and Sudoku – her normal activity of a morning before lunch was ready.
The community then gathered in the dining room where Blaise led the prayer by singing the Vision Statement song. It was in the second verse of the song that Blaise moved back against the table, seeking support. Sr Miriama, who was standing close to her, noticed this and put her arm around Blaise. “I’m weak”, Blaise whispered to Miriama but she continued to sing in spite of it. Miriama alerted the rest of us that all was not right with Blaise. While the rest of the Sisters gathered around Blaise and helped her to a wheel-chair, Sr Marlene called for an ambulance, the parish priest (Fr Ipolito sm), and Dr Raymond Fong. Fr Ipolito was the first to arrive to administer the Sacrament of the Sick. When Dr Fong arrived he confirmed that Blaise had suffered a brain haemorrhage. When the ambulance came to take Blaise to the hospital she had already lapsed into the coma from which she never woke up.
From the hospital, Marlene called Sr Mariana (Sector Leader) with the news of Blaise’s collapse. Sr Jane Frances (Superior General) and Sr Julie (Regional Leader) were in Nadi for their visitation and were part of the anxious group awaiting news at Mt St Mary’s. Over the next few hours Blaise’s family and friends were informed of her illness. The Rotuman Community responded with love and devotion. They arrived from all over Viti Levu and took turns with our Sisters in keeping vigil by Blaise’s bedside in the hospital. Her brother, Kepieni, arrived from Brisbane on Saturday afternoon and went straight to the hospital. It was as if Blaise was ‘waiting’ for Kepieni to arrive! Together with his younger brother, Mua, Kepieni bade good-bye to his beloved sister, Ana.
Blaise remained in a coma from 1.50 pm on the 10th of October until she peacefully slipped away into God’s care at 4.50 am on 16th October. The parishioners of Mt St Mary’s Nadi, Lautoka, Nadi Town, the Rotuman relatives and friends of Blaise came to offer their help, bringing gifts of different kinds. The Sisters were overwhelmed by their show of love and support.
The Vigil was held in the convent chapel on the night of the 18th October and was attended by very many relatives and friends. The Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated the next day by Fr Kaitu’u the Rotuman priest who had offered Blaise’s Golden Jubilee Mass. Fr Kaitu’u was assisted by eight priests. Blaise and Sr Nolasco now lie side by side in Balawa Cemetery, Lautoka, their graves overlooking the sea which both loved so much in life.
Blaise – like St Paul – has run the race and fought the good fight. She was loved by young and old, remembered as strong and forthright, but with a big heart, generous, vivacious and great fun. As one of our Sisters put it: “We have another Marist in heaven. May she now enjoy the reward of a Marist life lived to the full.”
On Pentecost Sunday Marist sisters in Sydney gathered to celebrate with their Jubilarians whose lives represent 290 years of Marist commitment. Sisters Joan Sheppard, Joan McBride, Mary Picone and Rose Shields each celebrated their Diamond Jubilee while Sisters Judith Lythall and Vilomena Ruru (Fiji) celebrated their Silver Jubilee of profession. Fr Tom Fulcher sm was the main celebrant at the Jubilee Mass.
Following Mass the jubilarians were toasted during an afternoon tea. As Marists these sisters are all convinced that they are are ” called by a gracious choice to follow Christ by living the Gospel as Mary did”. (Constitutions of the Marist Sisters)
We pray that other women in our world today will also be attentive to God’s call in their lives and follow in the footsteps of these sisters.
Marist Sisters in Fiji warmly welcomed Miriam McManus (General Councillor) with the Fijian traditional welcome when she arrived in Nadi in March. She was accorded this traditional welcome in more places than one and she was very touched. The Sisters enjoyed meeting Miriam. Her visits to the communities were rather short but we hope that one day she will return for a longer stay. While in Nadi Miriam visited some places where we have formerly ministered, including the Children’s Hostel in Lautoka. She also took photos of Vatukoula Convent School when she was en-route to Nadelei.
Sr. Nolasco was born in Lautoka in the year 1915 and baptised Marjorie Storck. Her father was Ludwig Storck and her Mother Elizabeth Davis.
Sr. Nolasco inherited the best qualities of both races – German and European but Sister was always happy to be known as Fijian and insisted that her name be spelt StorCk. You will see in the booklet the different places where Sr. Nolasco has worked but you may not know her as a person and the many qualities that were hers. This is what I want to share with you.
Sister had a strong character – What was right was right and what was wrong was wrong. Human nature being what it is some people did not always appreciate this but that’s how it was.
Sr. Nolasco was a caring person. In New Zealand she spent time with the Maori Children
in Waitariki. In Fiji she helped many who needed help. Sister excelled in cooking and her Fruit Cakes were delicious. She shared this gift with the Marist Fathers especially morning teas on Sundays. And as she sat in her wheel – chair in the kitchen she guided me as I cooked pies, pasta and brandy sauce.
Sr. Nolasco was present to support families in times of distress – and when tragedy struck the Tabutoa family in Levuka, Sister sat and prayed together with Fr. John Crispin. Sister was their great support. Day and Night they waited and when the search for their dear father was called off Sister was there to support the Mother and Children and Fr. Crispin who was utterly devastated.
Sister Nolasco was a lover of Nature. She loved flowers and trees and the sky in the evenings delighted her, while the song of the birds filled her with joy. When we took her for a drive she was so happy to see again the beautiful shrubs and trees and especially around Christmas time the Golden Showers and Flamboyant. Sister also was a lover of animals and often asked if Rover had his food.
Sister Nolasco was a woman of many gifts and qualities which she used for Him and
His People. And now she is with Him enjoying the reward prepared for all those who love and serve Him.
On behalf of the Marist Sisters and Sr. Nolasco’s immediate family, especially Max Storck,
I wish to thank all those who helped Sister during her time of illness. We cannot name all of you but we do appreciate your kindness. However, I wish to express our gratitude to Dr. Raymond Fong who was there any time day or night when we needed him.
So, good bye Sr. Nolasco, and thank you for all you have shared with us during our life time together.
(Eulogy given by Sr Marlene at Sr Nolasco’s funeral Mass)
The International Marist Family Midlife Renewal Programme was officially opened on 2nd March with a prayerful Eucharistic celebration. Each participant from the four Marist branches was named and welcomed by their respective Superior General or Representative. Included in the group of nineteen particpants are three Marist Sisters from Fiji – Sr.Salome Dilagi, Sr.Mariana Maramaanicava and Sr.Mareta Nai Raikivi.
The programme is led by a team from the 4 branches of the Marist Family. Br. Barry Burns FMS (New Zealand), Fr. David Kennerley SM (New Zealand), Sr. Marie Challacombe SM (NZ/France) and Sr. Janice Ruff SMSM (Australia), and will run for 5 months.
The programme aims to support the participants in their mid-life journey of Christ-centred transformation for mission by:
- creating a welcoming and dynamic community where differences of charism, culture, gender and nationality may be honoured and explored,
- offering reflective, prayerful and creative processes along with new learnings which will enable participants to listen to, and share with others, their own inner resources of wisdom and truth, and to face their human, spiritual and vocational questions in liberating ways,
- exploring the depths and potential in the respective Marist spiritualities for building the Marian dimension of Church in our contemporary world,
- helping each individual to realise their own potential in being an effective agent for change in their communities, ministries and Congregations.
And, finally, the hope is that all will return home in such a way that the fruit of the program will endure in their lives as committed Marist apostles.