News from Aotearoa-New Zealand

After many months of lockdown Marist Sisters in the Auckland area were recently able to gather at their Tindalls Bay beach house. This was an opportunity to enjoy each others company and to appreciate the beach scenery.

Present at the gathering was the most senior member of the Marist Sisters in New Zealand, Sr Patricia Bowley, and the youngest member, St Tulua ‘Otuafi.

For sisters in Aged Care facilities, there are still a restrictions on visiting. As a result the celebration of the 60th Anniversay of Profession for Sr Margaret Cross was a very quiet celebration. Srs Jane and Lorraine visited Margaret and reminisced with her about her years in Religious Life.

75 Years of Marist Profession

On 5th February Sr Clare Francis will celebrate the 75th anniversary of her profession as a Marist Sister. Clare you are a living example of commitment and fidelity that inspires us in our Marist journey.

We rejoice with Clare and give thanks for her many years of Marist service in Australia and New Zealand. We ask God’s continued blessings for Clare in this her jubilee year.

Renewal of Vows in New Zealand

In New Zealand, on 2nd December, Sr Tulua ‘Otuafi renewed her vows as a Marist Sister for another two years.  COVID restrictions prevented most of the sisters from attending the simple liturgy.

After some afternoon tea together, acting as witnesses, Srs Marie Challacombe, Gemma Wilson and Jane O’Carroll joined Tulua in the chapel at Papatoetoe.  They sang, read scripture and Tulua recited her renewal formula.  It was a very simple, joyous and prayerful occasion!

Congratulations Tulua.

Sr Rose Harris sm

Sr Rose Harris sm was called to eternal life on Wednesday 18th August 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 Rose’s family.

Rosary Maria Harris (Sister Rose formerly Sister Euphrasia) was born on the 19th October 1930 in Te Huahua, North Hokianga Aotearoa New Zealand. Her parents were Christopher Harris and Anne Harris, (nee McMath). She is one of 11 siblings (four of whom are still living) whose whanau land and marae is centred at Motukaraka also North Hokianga. Their beautiful church there of Our Lady of the Assumption is situated on the banks of the Hokianga Harbour, not far from the point where Bishop Pompallier and the early Marists landed in 1838. Rose was baptised on the 29th October 1930. Rose attended local primary and secondary schools and worked after leaving school as a shop assistant and Post Office Clerk.

In 1950-51 she entered a new Congregation of Religious set up by the Bishop of Auckland, Archbishop Liston, specifically for Maori women. It was located in Waitaruke and was under the care and formation provided by Marist Sisters, such as Sister Thérèse Groslier from France and Sister Anselm Berg from Australia. In 1952 the Archbishop decided to terminate this Congregation and he advised the novices and young professed to join established Congregations if they wished to continue in religious life. Six of these joined the Marist Sisters Novitiate in Karori Wellington, including Sister Dorothy (Kare) Peterson, and Sister Makareta Gilbert, both of whom have predeceased Rose, who is the last of the Maori Marist Sisters. They made Profession as Marist Sisters on 11th February 1954 in the Karori Parish Church where Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Liston and other clerical dignitaries. Rose made Perpetual Profession in Waitaruke on 8th September 1958.

Sister Rose obtained the Primary Teaching Diploma while studying at Loreto Hall RSCJ Training College in Auckland, and she taught in most of our Primary schools in A-NZ and in the 60’s was Head Teacher/ Principal in A-NZ and Bennettswood Australia. She was one of the foundation staff of a frontier school in Keilor, Victoria, Australia. Back in A-NZ, she was appointed Religious Education Advisor in the Catholic Education Office in Wellington and later was a member of the Maori Mission Apostolate in Porirua Wellington.

In 1987 Rose was elected A-NZ Regional Superior and re-elected later for a second term. As such she attended many meetings overseas and came to meet many of our Sisters. At the conclusion of these years in Leadership, she did a Sabbatical spiritual year at Hawkstone Hall in England and St Stephen’s in Dover USA.

When Rose returned to A-NZ, she did Parish Pastoral work in the towns of Kerikeri and Kaikohe in the Mid-North area of the North Island. Our Sisters lived in various parishes of this area, including Rawene, Moerewa, Kerikeri, Kaikohe and Waitaruke and at times Rose was Community Leader of the Northern Cluster, as it was termed, and she was an A-NZ Provincial Councillor from 1996 until 2000.

Around this time, she accompanied Bishop Patrick Dunn, Father Tate and Maori Catholic Leaders to Puteaux in France to exhume and bring back the remains of Bishop Pompallier. The process was long and involved and necessitated a number of trips to France but they were ultimately successful, and on return to A-NZ, the remains were taken around the country in a beautiful casket adorned with exquisite Maori carving. This is now kept under the altar in historical St Mary’s Church in Motuti where many go on pilgrimage.

In 2002-3, a new Marist Mission Team was set up in the Mid-North consisting of SM Priests and Brothers and four Marist Sisters, which included Rose – this group continued to function going out on Missions together until the end of 2008.

In 2009 Rose moved to a Unit in Rawene where she hoped to be more immersed in her Maori culture and language. She studied Maori Spirituality under Father Henare Tate, an expert in this field, and she became a foundation member of the Pompallier Trust which developed Motuti as a Pilgrimage Centre and Museum.

As Rose had had a pacemaker inserted in 2007 and was also struggling with weakness in her legs, she began to feel the need of care. After looking at various establishments, she decided on The Rose Gardens in Whangarei which was close to her brother, Eugene and sister-in law Liz, and in December 2018 she moved in there. In 2019 she was advised of the availability of a room in a new Care Section of the Rawene Hospital which overlooked her marae and church at Motukaraka across the Hokianga River. She didn’t need to be asked twice and moved in January 2020. There she has been very happy to be with Maori carers and other residents, some of them relatives as the Harris family is well known and spread far and wide in the North.

Sisters Catherine and Kathleen, resident in Kaikohe 45 minutes from Rawene Hospital, were able to visit Rose weekly and take her Holy Communion, as well as shopping for her other needs. Eugene and Liz and niece, Dawn, have been very faithful in visiting her, and sometimes she was able to go out for a drive. In spite of having a number of slight turns through the years she was still up and dressed every day and ready to greet her visitors.

On Friday 13 August the PP offered Mass in the hospital and Rose and Kathleen were present. After Mass Rose and other patients/residents were anointed. The following Tuesday, the 17th, Kathleen visited Rose again with Holy Communion which in fact became her Viaticum because that night in the early morning hours of the 18th August, Rose passed peacefully to her eternal reward.

As A-NZ is in Lockdown 4 because of Covid-19 we are awaiting news of when Sister Rose will be able to be buried in the special area set aside for her beside the church in Motukaraka.

“E te Ariki hoatu ki a ia te okiokinga tonutanga, ā kia whiti ki a ia te māramatanga mutunga kore”
“Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her”.

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.

Sr Iulia died peacefully in her sleep on the night of 13-14 April at Papatoetoe community, Auckland NZ. The last thing Iulia said to Gemma and Tulua (her community) was “I love you both”. Sometime before that Iulia had remarked that “This is lovely community!” As Marist community is valued by us, this meant a lot to them. Iulia’s death was unexpected in its suddenness and by that fact the she was only 60 years old, and apparently far from death! We all felt the shock of this very strongly.

Sr Iulia – Julian Margaret Pua – was born on the island of Savai’i, Samoa into a large extended family. She was raised by her father and her grandparents. Her grandmother had a strong influence on her growing up. Iulia was educated in Samoa where she attended the Government Primary school followed by the SMSM Primary school. She continued her secondary education at Logiopulotu College and St Mary’s College in Apia, Western Samoa. Iulia always carried a strong sense of her Samoan Culture with its traditions and understandings. Her niece, also called “Iulia”, lived not too far away and would sometimes visit with her family. Iulia loved these visits and the youngest, “Raymond”, was a favourite of hers and she spoilt him!

After spending time at Waitaruke in 1984, Iulia began her postulancy in 1985 which took place at Mt Albert. Over this time, she also engaged in study at Marist Sisters’ College for NZ University Entrance qualification, a qualification she would need to continue tertiary education in NZ. Iulia then moved on to Novitiate for 1986-1987 joining others in Fiji in a common novitiate under the guidance of Sr Torika. She made First Profession on 12 January 1988 and made Final Profession on 18 May 1994 in Mt Albert Church. Iulia was granted New Zealand Citizenship in 1995.

Over the 33 years of profession with us as a Marist Sister, Iulia gained her Diploma of Teaching in 1991 followed by her NZ Certificate of Teaching in 1993 and spent most of that time as a teacher at Primary school level and twice took up the role of Assistant Deputy Principal. In 2001, Iulia attained her Bachelor of Education (Teaching). In later years, from 2007, Iulia also taught at secondary levels. As well as teaching she also loved to study and learn new things. In 2013 Iulia attained a Graduate Diploma in Theology and in 2014 Postgraduate Diploma in Theology in Biblical Studies.

Iulia had a great love for the Word of God and was very faithful to reading and meditating on the readings for the day. She found God in creation, above all in her garden, where she would grow what was important to her – spinach, coprosma, roses galore and taro all in the same patch sometimes! Iulia was also artistic and often expressed herself in painting, often using ‘fantasy’ figures. She was also a beautiful flower arranger, creating some lovely configurations appreciated by all. Poetry was another way Iulia would express her feelings.

Iulia assumed positions of responsibility in community by taking up the role of local leader and also local bursar, being a member of the ANZ Finance Committee, a member of the Pastoral Planning Committee, by being on the Vocations Development team, and more recently she liaised with the newly formed Marist Communications team on behalf of the Unit. She loved her vocation and the Congregation very much.

We all knew that Iulia was given to ‘fads’ from time to time e.g. she would get enthusiasms for particular kinds of food or diets – a while ago it was rhubarb, then parsley, then porridge, or the Keto Diet or the Paleo Diet and so on. As well as collecting “foods” she also had a habit of collecting various items from other people’s throw outs! She would see different kinds of furniture along the curb side waiting to be collected e.g. a little cupboard, an armchair, a little bookcase and take them home!
Although you left us suddenly and unexpectedly, Iulia, we thank God for you, and for Mary’s “gracious choice” of you. You had a desire to be like Mary, and to act like Mary in all you did for others. A week before you went to God, you said to Tulua: “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 small children for a trip, make sure to wear proper shoes.”
God has called you. Rest in Peace, Iulia!

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.

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.

 

Working Against Human Trafficking and Slavery

In the Asia-Pacific region Marist Sisters in Australia and New Zealand are engaged in the work against human trafficking and slavery. The sisters are members of ACRATH in Australia and Talitha Kum Aotearoa New Zealand in New Zealand.

Over recent week ACRATH has been advocating with members of the Commonwealth Parliament. Due to Covid-19 this year all meeting took part online. In addition to members of Parliament the ACRATH team also meets with members of Government Department. The image depicts a meeting with the Australian Ambassador for People Smuggling and Human Trafficking, Lucienne Manton (centre of lower right image), and her team. ACRATH is convinced that it is only through collaboration with government, NGOs and civil society that human trafficking and slavery can be eliminated.

The recent ACRATH Newsletter outlines ACRATH’s advocacy issues in 2020. It also gives a snapshot of other ACRATH activities over recent months. Download a copy of the latest ACRATH newsletter here.

Celebrations in New Zealand

On Sunday 4 October Marist Sisters in New Zealand celebrated with joy, 60 years of profession for Sr Margaret Vaney!  Her brother Fr Neil Vaney sm was the celebrant.  We celebrated Mass  in the beautifully prepared Mt Albert Chapel.  It was a very happy and joy-filled occasion during which Margaret renewed her vows. After the Mass we made our way to a restaurant on the rural outskirts of the city.  Following this we returned back to Mt Albert for cake-cutting, gifts and speeches! It was a wonderful day!

 

On the same weekend those sisters who were able gathered at the cemetry in Panmure for the unveiling of the headstone for Srs Isabelle Harding and Margaret Therese Kerins. Family and friends of the sisters were also present.

 

Celebrating Waitangi Day in New Zealand

On 6th February sixteen Marist Sisters in New Zealand travelled to Whangaparoa for a lunch to celebrate Waitangi Day, a special national day in Aotearoa New Zealand.

This day celebrates who we are – as a people, as a country and as a nation. Waitangi Day 2020 marks 180 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the founding document of Aotearoa New Zealand. It signaled the beginning of a long relationship between the Maori people (the first people of the land) and other cultures.

Several photos were taken during the celebration. One was a photo of the youngest Sister and the oldest Sister in the Marist Sisters Unit of Aotearoa New Zealand.