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.
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.