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.
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”.