Marist Sisters in Australia gathered on 23rd July to mark three significant events. Firstly they acknowledged the anniversary of the Promise of Fourviere on 23rd July 1816. On this day a group of seminarians pledged themselves to beginning a congregation in Mary’s name. Beginning the afternoon with prayer the sisters remembered the Fourviere event and reflected on the gift of the Marist Spirit that has been passed down for over 200 years.
Secondly, the gathering was an opportunity to welcome Sr Grace Ellul home to Australia after serving as Congregation Leader for 7 years, and to thank her for her commitment and service during those years.
At the Marist Sisters General Chapter held earlier this year, Sr Kate McPhee was elected as a General Councillor. Kate will soon be leaving for Rome. While she will be greatly missed in Australia, the sisters expressed their love and support for Kate as she takes up this new role which she has generously accepted as God’s call.
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.
Marist Sisters in the Asia-Pacific region celebrated the Season of Creation in various ways. The Season of Creation provided us with an opportunity to reflect on our common home, the Earth, and commit to ways of respecting and protecting it into the future.
In Fiji the sisters do this simply by planting their own vegetables, keeping their environment clean, pot planting, planting root crops and composting.
In the Raiwaqa community Sr Rosemary put together a display depicting creation from the beginning and the current devastating state of the earth -the natural and man -made destructive forces brought about through the effects of climate change. Many of the psalms sing in praise of God’s creation. As Bearers of Hope, we believe the Earth is alive and vibrant and wish to do all in our power to protect it.
In the Sefton Community in Australia, Srs Gail and Kate celebrated the Congregation feastday, the Holy Name of Mary, with a practical response to the Season of Creation. They did a make over of their garden.
To mark the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans has released a one minute video clip imploring people to listen to the stories and voices of trafficked people to gain an understanding of what can be done to combat the injustice. Victim-survivors are at the heart of everything that ACRATH tries to achieve in its work to help eliminate human trafficking and modern slavery.
ACRATH helps to restore the voice of victim-survivors through its Companionship Program and advocacy work. The Companionship Program involves 13 trained volunteer Companions walking the journey of recovery with survivors. Companions build relationships with these 34 trafficked women and their 45 children women, providing them with emotional, social and practical support.
Marist Sisters in Australia and New Zealand are engaged in the work of eliminating human trafficking and modern day slavery.
Cerdon College Merrylands takes Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, Foundress of the Marist Sisters, as their College Patron. Each year around her feastday the College sets aside a day to celebrate Jeanne-Marie Chavoin within the school community. This year because of the limitations imposed by Covid-19 the College was not able to have a full school Mass. Therefore, a liturgical celebration was held within the school setting.
Jeanne-Marie Chavoin came ‘back to the future’ and was interviewed by a student in a 21st century context. The occasion this year also marked the end of 61 years of physical presence of a Marist Sister on the Cerdon College Staff. Sr Kate McPhee, after a long association with the College, finished serving in school ministry moving on to minster elsewhere.
There is no doubt that the Marist Spirit is truly alive and well among the staff and students of Cerdon College and the Marist Sisters are confident that Mary’s spirit will continue to permeate the life of the College Community into the future.
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.
Marist Sisters in Fiji were delighted to welcome Sr April Acero recently. April is from the Philippines. While in Fiji April is delighted to be meeting with Marist Sisters who have ministered in the Philippines in recent years.
Marist Sisters observe the feastday of their Foundress, Jeanne Marie Chavoin, on the anniversary of her death – 30th June. Born in the French village of Coutouvre in 1786 she lived through the French Revolution. At the age of thirty-one she “left home and family to start the Society of the Blessed Virgin.” As a Marist Sister her life was one of prayer and service. Like Mary, she was attentive to the needs of those around her and she encouraged her sisters to do the same. An early historian of the Marist Sisters, Sr Elizabeth Boyer wrote: “They were seen only in church and in the homes of the poor and sick.”
Inspired by Jeanne-Marie’s deep and abiding faith
and her firm trust in God
we pray that we will be women of prayer
and learn from her
to live Mary’s loving concern for
and service of those in need.