Sr Laurentia Furlong sm

Sr Laurentia Furlong sm

Brigid Furlong, or we knew her, Sr Laurentia, was born in Tipperary – I presume there is no need to spell out which country! She made her novitiate in Peckham and Paignton, in England, being professed on the 26th October, 1939, which almost coincides with the outbreak of World War II.

The War was to play an important role in her very early years, As a young professed she was called on to take some child evacuees in 1941 to Fishguard, which was a relatively safe centre from the bombing in London. She would tell us the story of her evacuation and her part in it. She remained there for a year with one other Marist Sister but living with the Sisters of Mercy. This whole episode had a very deep effect on her as a young sister. Indeed, living in England where both Peckham and Paignton, houses of the Marist Sisters were and where she stayed, were bombed. When the war was over in 1945 she set out for Fiji. Such was her courage.

She was one of the first arrivals after the war. Her first appointment was at Levuka. She spent the next 25 years in Fiji in many of the mission stations, none of which was easy. With a few short breaks, she remained there until 1972. She was an excellent teacher and very kind with the children she taught, though the climate was not always easy for a native of Tipperary. Again we see that determined courage.

Australia was the next stopping place with an appointment to Gladstone, then Keilor in Melbourne and finally North Mackay where she remained for some years, with a break in Ireland when a family member was ill. In these appointments she was really great, relating well to the children, and most especially to those she was taking who had specific learning difficulties.

Not very often, but now and again, she showed she was a woman of great spirit. One such occasion occurred in Mackay, when the superior had made a promise to drive her across the river to St Pat’s for Confession every second Saturday. The superior had the misfortune to forget, but I can tell you she never forgot again. Laurie, as we called her, could be very volatile.

When she came to Sydney and lived at Blacktown all her hidden artistic gifts came to the fore which she hadn’t been able to apply herself to before. Painting and craft became works of art in her hand and she was able to use these gifts to support the parish craft stall. As well she was a great nature lover, especially of the birds.

What she loved most however, was organizing the monthly Masses held in the Blacktown house for the elderly and disabled. She prepared the Mass with every bit of care she could muster and enjoyed the company of those who attended. She extended this pastoral care to those in hospital whom she visited every week.

But all this time, what I think very few of us knew was the ill-health she managed to hide and that was with her for many years. When she was well in her nineties, she went to Marian House and then to St Anne’s where she was cared for so lovingly.

Laurie, you can now enjoy to the full the God you loved so much and Mary, his Mother. As our Mother Foundress says,

We shall be very happy
at the hour of our death
if we have known how to take advantage
of all the moments of life.

Laurie, you certainly knew how to do that. May you rest in peace.

Sr Carmel Conran sm

Sr Carmel Conran sm

Dorothy May Conran, was born in Glebe on the 25th January 1920. She was the eldest of five children born to Edward and May Conran. At the time of her reception into the Marist Sisters Novitiate she was given the name Sr Carmel and then made her first profession as a Marist Sister in February 1940.

Sr. Carmel Conran was a rich woman, not in the way we usually think of riches, but because she had been endowed by God with many talents and she didn’t bury, waste or deny any of these. Our regional leader, Sr. Julie, writes “Carmel lived in loving faithfulness to her marist vocation and served the mission of the Congregation in three countries of our Region, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Carmel taught in both Primary and Secondary schools and was also a music teacher.”

For almost seventy years, as a Marist Sister, Carmel endeavoured to make the mystery of Mary in the Church, the daily inspiration of her life and actions in classrooms and music rooms among pupils, parents, friends and parishioners, endeavouring to think, to judge, to feel and to act as Mary did. Fort of these years were spent in New Zealand teaching classes or as a specialist teacher of music in Putaruru, Karori and Mt. Albert

In the eighties when the Catholic schools in New Zealand were being integrated into the Government Education System, Carmel was called upon to play a major role in this process. About this event, Sr. Julie recalls, “Her vision and her passion, together with her perceptiveness and clarity of thought equipped her well for her work with the Catholic Education department.” She worked on a committee with the Bishops and was the Liaison Officer for the Catholic schools, and was required to make sure that school buildings, Staffs, and Curriculum were all up to the required standard.

Sr Carmel with Srs Veronica and Teresa from Fiji

Carmel spent about five years in Fiji and was asked to work with the Columban Priests in a co-educational multi-cultural secondary school in Ba, Fiji. The student body was predominately Indian. At the time of Carmel’s death, Sr. Mary Frances, now in England wrote, “I have happy memories of our time in Ba at Xavier College. The Staff and Students, held Carmel in high regard and were very much aware of her interest in their well-being and development…” Carmel reached out in particular to the young girls who often needed her special help and advice as many of them came from rural areas and were poor.

When asked to fulfil leadership roles, Carmel always answered the challenge graciously. Our Congregational Leader, Sr. Jane Frances remarked, how “Carmel was a very strong person and a broad thinker with vision. I will never forget,” she says,” the steps Carmel took in New Zealand to bring us into the future. That Sector is very grateful for her style of leadership and her fearless approach. The Congregation always came first and she would forge ahead with Mary’s mission in mind regardless of her self. I also remember her wit and her ability to see through situations.” Leadership roles called forth Carmel’s expertise as an organiser, a planner, a forward thinker. During the six years that she was the leader of Mount Albert Community, a new convent was built. Much thought went into the planning and the result was a home for the sisters, that was functional, comfortable and artistically pleasing.

Carmel’s concern for her sisters was very evident. She was able to show empathy with them in both their successes and disappointments. She was quick to sympathize with the sisters whenever any misfortune or ill-health touched members of their families. Her interest was real and sincere and her kindness went out to many. As Sr. Julie reminds us, “she was also caring and compassionate to the older and frailer members of the community. I recall that she lived and served in Marian house for over ten years in total and also spent two years assisting the community of older Marist Fathers at Maryvale, Hunters Hill.

Towards the end of her life, Carmel spent three years in our small community at Rosemeadow. Although retired, Carmel contributed to the life of the parish. She helped in the parish office, loved meeting the parishioners, and joined the ‘getting to know you’ group. She also animated a Lenten Group. Carmel had a great devotion to the Rosary and was often seen carrying her beads. She was intelligent, very well read and could converse on many topics.

When Carmel’s failing health required that she become a resident at Chesalon Nursing Home she was asking us to pray that God would take her to Himself – she was waiting for God to say, “Come”. On the evening prior to her death, assisted by Srs Carmel Murray and Gail, Carmel renewed her vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience. Shortly after that Father Kennedy, the Parish Priest of West Pennant Hills, came and gave Carmel the Sacrament of the Dying. She entered eternal life on 23rd September 2009.

We give thanks to God for the gift of Sr Carmel’s life. We ask her to obtain blessings for us as she enters into Heaven and into the company of Mary and all our Marist saints. We also pray for her family, for her many friends and for all those who cared for her in her time of ill-health. May Carmel rest in peace.

Sr Lora in Gambia

Sr Lora

In January 2009 Sr Lora was missioned to The Gambia in West Africa. She has been teaching Religious Education to grades 3, 4, 5 & 6 chldren in St Charles Lwanga School. Sr Lora is seen in the photo with some children she recently prepared for their First Holy Communion.

Sr Lora wrote that recently she was home alone as the others in her community had gone on a pilgrimmage. A man in a wheel chair arrived at the door having been wheeled there by a non-christian neighbour. The man was wanting to receive Holy Communion. Up to this point Lora had been reluctant to give Communion as she was nervous. She was really touched that this man and his helper should disregard the heat of Africa’s midday sun to come in search of Communion. The faith of this man inspired her and she has arranged to take Communion to him in his home on a weekly basis.

Silver Jubilee for Fijian Sister

Sr Teresia

On 28th April, the feast of St Peter Chanel, Sr Teresia Raione from Fiji celebrated twenty five years as a Marist Sister. Teresia is currently undertaking a course at Marymount Centre in Sydney.   It was a delight for her companions at the course to celebrate this day with her.



Sr Teresia with Her Marist Companions at Marymount

During a late afternoon Mass Teresia renewed her vows. The Mass had a Pacific flavour as course participants led a Gospel procession and the singing of hymns in Fijian and Pidgin. During the social which followed the evening meal a hymn of blessing was prayed for Teresia.

Final Profession in Fiji

Srs Tema & Kalala


There was great rejoicing in Fiji recently when Srs Kalala and Tema professed their perpetual vows as marist Sisters. Fr Suni Halapio sm presided at the Liturgy along with twenty other priests.

Cutting the Profession Cake

The Liturgy was beautifully prepared by the youth of the St Michael’s are where the sisters belong. Sr Julie Brand, Regional Superior of the Marist Sisters in Asia pacific received the sisters vows. After the Mass all present were invited to the parish hall to share a meal which had been prepared by the Marist Sisters and families of the newly professed.

Marists at Formators Programme

Eight Marists are participating in a formators’ program recently commenced at the Marymount Centre, Castle Hill, NSW. The six-month program offers specialised course components for formators and vocation ministers and runs concurrently with Marymount’s ‘New Life’ program. The two courses have attracted thirty-five participants from fifteen countries. A ninth Marist, Sr Makalita Finau SMSM (Tonga) is expected to join the group shortly. The Marists participating in the programme are appreciating the opportunity to spend this time together as a Marist Family group being enriched by the diversity of their lived experience of the Marist Charism in a variety of cultures.

Pictured above (L-R): Fr Boniface Besco SM (Marist novitiate, Tutu, Fiji), Sr Teresia Raione SM (Wairiki, Taveuni, Fiji), Sr Noelene Simmons SM (Vocations ministry, Sydney), Fr Peter McAfee SM (Marist novitiate, Mexico), Fr Chris Ganzon SM (postulant director, Davao, Philippines), Fr Kevin Conroy SM (Rector, Marist seminary, Auckland, NZ), Sr Julienne Hayes-Smith SMSM (Dhaka, Bangladesh) and Sr Joan Bernion SMSM (Manurewa, Auckland, NZ).

Marist Leadership in Asia-Pacific

Srs Anne, Julie & Margaret

Over recent months the sisters in Asia-Pacific have been involved in discernment processes concerning leadership in the Region and within each Sector for the three years beginning February 2009. Sr Julie Brand has been appointed Regional Leader while Sr Margaret Vaney and Sr Anne Rounds have been appointed as Regional Councillors. Discernment regarding Sector Leadership has resulted in the following sisters being appointed or elected to the following positions:

New Zealand Sector Leader Sr Francine McGovern
Assistants Sr Analulu Tanuvasa
Sr Juliana Massey
Australia SectorLeader Sr Gail Reneker
Assistants Sr Carmel Murray
Sr Grace Ellul
Fiji Sector Leader Sr Sr Marianna Tevurega
Assistants Sr Mareta Nai Raikivi
Sr Rosemary Simon
Philippines Sector Leader Sr Veronica Lum
Assistant Sr Torika Wong