Chavoin Day at Cerdon College

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.

 

Ministering to Women in Fiji

Fijian Marist Sister, Sr Mariana Tevurega, is Coordinator for Women’s Ministry on behalf of Caritas in the Archdiocese of Suva. Through the Women at the Well programme Mariana leads workshops and prayer sessions for women as well as working with parishes on the issue of violence against women and children. The following links will lead to to reports on some of the activities Mariana has been involved in.

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.

Golden Jubilee Celebration in Fiji

Sr Rosemary Simon made her first Profession as a Marist Sister in the Merrylands Chapel on 6th March 1971 with Sister Carmel as her Novice Mistress. Rosemary still remembers that day with great clarity as both Sisters David and Carmel were present with all the Sisters in Merrylands at that time.   Also present was her mother who travelled from Fiji for that special day.  This wonderful  occasion was celebrated with great dancing in the community room with Father Kevin Kehoe at the piano.  Auntie Bonita Rounds and her mother danced the Tongan and Samoan Siva.

50 years later, on the anniversary of the day,  Rosemary recommited herself to Jesus by renewing  her vows during a special Jubilee Mass in the Mount St. Mary’s Church, Nadi.  The Church was beautifully decorated with white orchids  and pink antheriums. The main celebrant, a good friend of Rosemary, was Father John McEvoy scc (Columban), the friendship going back to the 1970’s when Rosemary was teaching at Xavier College, Ba.

Because of her Kiribati background, the hymns were a mixture of English, Fijian and Kiribati. The local blend of hymns sung by the Mission Choir of Lautoka was much appreciated by all who attended Mass. The members of the choir were made up mainly of Rosemary’s relatives.  The Offertory was a Kiribati cultural dance which accompanied those who carried up the bread and wine.  Concelebrating with Father John , were five other priests:  Frs Joe McHugh sj, Dennis Levy sm, Lewis Henry sm, Fr Sanele (pp of Nadi town) and Fr Veremo (pp of Lautoka).

Following the Mass the guests went to the school Square  for the formalities followed by the partaking  of the delicious meal catered for mainly by Rosemary’s family.  The venue was very convenient as the school verandahs provided ample space for people to sit, eat and enjoy the entertainment.  All in all, it was a very joyful, meaningful and memorable occasion.

We thank God for the gift of Rosemary and we thank her for the generous gift of herself as a Marist to the Congregation for the mission of the Church, and we wish her many more years of joyful and fruitful service as Mary’s Presence in the Church.

Click on images to see enlarged version.

Marist Students Study Human Trafficking

As part of the Human Rights component of their Legal Studies course, Year 12 students at Marist Sisters College Woolwich are studying Human Trafficking. Recently ACRATH member, Noelene Simmons sm, was a guest speaker for the class. The presentation included an explanation of what human trafficking is and the forms it takes in Australia and beyond, the legislation that exists in Australia to fight against this crime and the actions we can take to help in eliminating human trafficking and slavery. The students were very engaged throughout the presentation. Comments from the students include:

“Sister Noelene’s presentation opened my eyes to the injustice within the global community in relation to human trafficking and how we as young adults can act to strive for a more equal world.” (Emma)

“The presentation was really informative and helped me understand more about human trafficking and slavery issues within our world. The ethical brands booklet is very interesting, it’s good to learn more about the products I buy. (Cinzia)

“Sister Noelene’s presentation was engaging and really emphasised the ways that us as a community can make a difference in stopping modern day slavery” (Lauren)

Celebrating Marist Commitment

In Fiji a celebration was held recently to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Marist Religious Profession for Srs Raitiera Teiti and Terube Ata. Because of Cyclone conditions, the original date for the jubilee was postponed till mid February.   The two sisters had been in Rabi for their Christmas break so they had celebrated then with their close family, relatives and friends.

However, despite the rainy weather, the celebrations for Sisters Terube and Raitiera went off very well. On Friday, the choir from Lautoka braved the stormy weather and miraculously arrived in Suva, slept in the Lami classrooms and were ready to sing at the the next morning.

On the day of the celebration, the sun shone and we were filled with joy as we took part in the beautifully prepared liturgy. Mass in the Lami Parish Church at 11.00 am was full to capacity with sisters, friends, Religious and relatives. The main celebrant was Father Donal McElraith, Irish Columban who is closely associated with the Rabi Community. Rabi is the island off the coast of Taveuni where the Kiribati community from Ocean Island were rehabilitated because of Phosphate Issues.  At present Rabi has produced two priests to the Columban Society and quite a number of girls have joined either the OLSH or the Marist Sisters.  The Rabi Community is very proud of their Religious and in particular Sisters Terube and Raitiera. It was a touching moment when both the sisters knelt before the altar to renew their vows.

After the Mass, all the Marist Sisters and guests were invited to the school basement for the usual formalities, meal and entertainment. The decor in the basement expressed the feelings of joy and happiness for this auspicious occasion. The theme of the day was “Mary Going In Haste”. In Sister Terube’s speech, she explained the meaning of the theme…that is the Sisters are on mission with Mary in carrying out the work of Christ.

Following the meal in the school basement, the Sisters continued to mingle with friends and relatives and later we joined the Sisters as they opened their gifts. We finished the day with the Salve Regina. It was a great day and we thank God for the gifts of Terube and Raitiera, two very talented and hard working women in the Marist Congregation.

On the same day Lavenia Laweimoala began another step in her Marist journey when she was received as a novice in the presence of her parents and the Sisters.

A video of the event may be viewed here.

Reopening and Blessing of Dental Clinic in ‘Balay Pasilungan’

In the Philippines the Marist Fathers Chanel Community joined the celebration of the opening of the Dental clinic for children at Balay Pasilungan. The newly blessed dental equipment enables Marist Sister Sheila Manalo SM (a dentist) to offer safe and covid-free clinic to children.

Founded by the Society of Mary in 1989, Balay Pasilungan is home to former street boys. They eat, sleep, play and pray as a family, supported by a social worker and house parents under the supervision of a Marist priest. Many of the boys also attend a local school.

[Photo: www.maristasia.org. Marist Community with Fr Gil Casio SM, the new executive director of Balay Pasilungan with their dentist, Sr Sheila Manalo SM]

Peace Sunday

On this Peace Sunday (17th January) we join with Pope Francis in praying for peace in our world. In his message for the World Day of Peace on 1st January 2021 Pope Francis took as his theme A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace. Download the Pope’s message here.

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.