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)
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.
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]
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.
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.
Sr Philomena Hall sm was called to eternal life on Wednesday 2nd December 2020.
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 Australia and to Sr Philomena’s family. the following Words of Remembrance were delivered by Sr Julie Brand Philo’s funeral held at Holy Name of Mary Church Hunters Hill on 14th December.
Sr Philomena died very peacefully at St. Anne’s Nursing Home, Hunters Hill, on the morning of 2nd December. When news of her death began to filter through the Nursing Home, the Staff were very saddened, telling us what a beautiful lady she was, how she never complained and how much they would miss her gentle presence.
Sr Philomena – Margaret Patricia May Hall – affectionately known to us as Philo, was born on 1st May 1925 in Gloucester, NSW, the second youngest of six children. The family moved to Belmore, Sydney, in 1933 but Philo never lost her great love for the Australian countryside. She completed her Primary Schooling at St. Joseph’s, Belmore, and Secondary Schooling at St. Brigid’s, Marrickville, before beginning work. Philo had happy memories of this period of her life, recalling joining the Parish Youth Group – a very united, active group that met at least twice a week and enjoyed dancing, socializing, sporting activities and working together on Parish projects. It was while she was participating in a Parish mission that Philo began to recognize God’s invitation to Religious Life. While resisting at first, Philo grew in readiness to accept the call. In a reflection she wrote that, after prayer and spiritual accompaniment, she was ready to say to God: “Whatever you want Lord, I want”.
Philo was received into the Marist Sisters’ Novitiate in Merrylands and made her First Profession on 8th September 1949. The following year she began her Teacher Training at St Joseph’s, Mount Street, North Sydney, qualifying as an Infant and Primary Teacher. Thus began her journey in the apostolate of Education, which spanned over 40 years, and through which she touched the lives of children and their families in New Zealand, Fiji and Australia. Philo took up positions of leadership in Schools, and was always ready to assist other teachers and offer guidance and support.
For approximately 32 years Philo was on mission in Fiji, teaching for many of those years in towns of the western district and in the Yasawa Islands. The Sisters of Fiji and her ex-students remember Philo as an excellent teacher, especially of infants – dedicated, kind, generous and hard-working – one who knew how to encourage her students, especially the slower readers – and who was always ready to give a helping hand to others, children and teachers alike. Philo was indeed loved by the Sisters and people of Fiji. Ex-students, fellow teachers, parents and friends all around Fiji have been praying for Philo and giving thanks for her life of service in Mary’s Name. Philo’s gift of herself to Fiji was also very much supported by her family, whose generosity helped the mission of our Sisters there and the further growth of our Congregation in Fiji. In particular the Hall family remember with affection Sr Maria Goretti Satoqi, to whom they opened their home in Belmore and provided a warm welcome when Maria Goretti came to Sydney in the mid-60’s to enter our Marist Novitiate. Goretti is united with us today, saying once again “Vinaka Vaka Levu” to Philo and the Hall family.
Philo settled back in Australia in the mid-90’s and was soon to begin a ministry of care and service in Marian House, Woolwich. For many years she worked tirelessly in attending to the needs of the elderly Sisters, taking up the work of local Bursar and supporting the community. Before we restructured Marian House in the early years of 2000, it was often Philo who showered Sisters and attended to their personal care. She always showed love for the frail Sisters and would visit the Nursing Home at St. Anne’s every Sunday morning to spend time with our Sisters in residence there.
Philo was an excellent Bursar who had a great gift for figures. She was competent in complex calculations such as wages and superannuation payments, well organised and meticulous. I believe her gifts and talents were also readily identified in other members of the Hall family. Philo often spoke of her two brothers – Joe and Ben and their families, her sister Mary (who joined the Sisters of the Good Samaritan) and brother Trevor (a Christian Brother). She loved her family and enjoyed spending time with them, particularly holidaying in Ballina.
It was no secret that Philo was very determined – some would say stubborn – and stood her ground firmly and resolutely. She could be fiery at times, and left you in no doubt about her stance on a matter in question. Philo was quite a fierce competitor too. Sisters recall that she loved a game of cards and knew every card that had been played in a game of 500. Woe betide you if you were her partner and had not kept track of the hands played! When Philo moved to St. Anne’s Nursing Home, she always participated in activities and particularly enjoyed Bingo. Once again she was very well organised and it quite delighted me to see her arrange the markers in right order ready to cover the numbers when called. She was often the winner!
Philo took delight in nature, enjoying animals, birds, flowers and trees. She loved the stars, the moon and the ocean. One of her joys in latter years was to sit in the car by the water eating ice-cream and watching the pelicans. Philo was also artistic and would join in art and craft activities, colouring and decorating.
Philo – we thank God for you and Mary’s gracious choice of you. It was your fervent desire to do great things for God in Mary’s way. You have followed in Her footsteps and been faithful unto death. Like Mary you prayed, “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord”. You have surely done God’s Will and God now welcomes you into eternity. Rest in peace.
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.
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.
Despite being in lockdown for six months due to Covid-19 Marist Sisters resident in St Joseph’s Aged Care are still deeply interested in Congregation and world events. Their passion and commitment is an inspiration to all of us. On behalf of the group Sr Marie Berise writes the following:
“We six Marist Sisters residing at St. Joseph’s Aged Care, Hunters Hill, New South Wales, Australia, have been in lockdown since the 19th March 2020, only leaving this place for important, necessary medical treatment. We received with joy the beautiful, inspiring Jubilee for the Earth – New Rhythms, New Hope” material. It resonates deeply with the groundswell happening in Australia to raise awareness of climate change and the desire to reach renewable energy targets by 2050, despite the coronavirus and bushfire issues. The Government – Federal and State – and the many local groups are active. We here – Josephite Sisters, lay women and ourselves – prayerfully do very small things, cultivating gardens, recycling waste materials and plastics. How encouraging to read Ross Garnaut, one of our top experts in this field, in his wonderful book about Australia’s low carbon opportunity citing Pope Francis’s Laudato Si as the “most rigorous, comprehensive and influential” treatment of the ethics, science and technology issues to protect our common home throughout the world. In Laudato Si no. 218 Pope Francis quotes the Australian Bishops calling all to ecological conversion. We look to the future of our world with renewed hope.”
Photo: L-R: Srs Joan McBride, Anne Saunders, Marie Clarke (seated) and Srs Marie Patricia Toomey, Patricia Bartley and Marie Berise Nash (standing)