Saturday 8 December 2018 was a day of significance for the Marist Sisters in Australia.
The day began with a prayer of farewell to our property at Woolwich. Woolwich was the foundation community in Australia when the Marist Sisters arrived in Sydney some 110 years ago. We had much to acknowledge and remember… including
the support, service and friendship shown us by the Marist Fathers from the beginnings till now;
the many thousands of teachers, students and their families of Marist Sisters College, Woolwich;
those who had worked with us in caring for the property including the doctors, nurses, carers and cooks who have been so much part of Marian House since its beginning in 1979;
After singing the song “Holy Ground” those gathered were invited to a time of quiet reflection on the people, things, events and experiences which were part of our years at Woolwich.
At the conclusion of the prayer we adjourned to the dining room where we continued to share stories and memories over lunch.
At the conclusion of the meal, during a prayer, members of the former leadership team lit the Unit of Australia candle and passed the candle to the new leadership team of Sr Cath Lacey (Unit Leader) and her two assistants Julie Brand and Ruth Davis.
Students from Cerdon College Merrylands went to Fiji believing they were needed. They quickly learnt that it is in giving that we also receive. The students are very grateful to the Marist Sisters in Fiji for enabling them to have such wonderful experiences. They have come home richer people as a result of the time they spent there.
It was with a sense of deep gratitude to God and to Mary that the Marist Sisters celebrated the 20th anniversary of their presence in the Philppines. It was a special joy for the Sisters that Congregation Leader Sr Grace Ellul was present for this celebration. Members of the Marist Family and family and friends of the Sisters joined with them in celebrating a Mass of thanksgiving. All the Sisters who have been part of this journey were remembered, particularly Torika and Vero, the valiant pioneers. Let us pray for the Marist Sisters currently ministering in the Philippines as they imitate Mary by reaching out to those in need.
The Cerdon College Year 10 Justice and Peace unit of work this year involved students in reaching out to those less fortunate as well as learning from those working in the field of Social Justice. Keynote speaker on the day was Marist Sister Noelene Simmons who spoke of her work with ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans).
At lunch time students were able to purchase sausages cooked by Rotary with the funds raised being donated back to Rotary so as to purchase a Shelter Box, a resource to provide immediate relief for families affected by natural disasters and conflict. The Shelter Box ensures that a family of 10 can survive while more permanent infrastructure is organised.
The day concluded with a practical activity where all students were asked to assemble a solar light to assist students in developing countries complete their homework. This initiative is in an attempt to break the poverty cycle by ensuring children gain an education so as to achieve employment as adults. The solar light “kits” were purchased from Solar Buddy with the funds for this kindly donated by the Marist Sisters Australia.
On Sunday 24th September, Australian Marist Sisters Kate McPhee and Gail Reneker , joined the Parish Eucharistic celebration at St Margaret Mary’s Parish Merrylands where Mr Nathan Mulheron and Miss Stephanie Ackaoui with 8 Year 11 Students from Cerdon College received a special blessing. On the 9th October, these two teachers and 8 students will travel to Fiji for an immersion experience with the Marist Sisters in Nadelei and Mt St Mary’s Nadi. We wish all involved rich and joy filled experiences and many blessings.
Davao’s Balay Banaag Center is now in the care of the Marist Sisters. Balay Banaag offers residential care to girls who have been abused or at risk. Up until now it has been run by Talikala Inc. – a local NGO whose goal is to improve the quality of life of women prostitutes and survivors of prostitution. The Marist Sisters have worked with Talikala for years. So when it became difficult for Talikala to continue the management of Balay Banagg the director turned to the Sisters for help. With the enthusiastic support of the local Marist Fathers, the Marist Mission Centre, Marist Laity Australia and our Congregation, the handover took place on 31 May 2018.
Sr Monida Lum writes:
“On May 31, the Sisters of the Unit and the staff of Talikala Inc, were joined by members of the Marist family and family members of the resident girls for the handing over of the management of Balay Banaag.
Sr Lilibeth and Sr Edna had spent many weeks preparing for this day! The two house parents and the girls who reside in the center were happy and excited. The center was beautiful and welcoming. Everything was spick and span! The visitors-guests were impressed! Father’s Fernando Ingente,sm and Cleopas,sm (from Solomon Islands) and Br Mark,fms also came to share the joy.
Mass for the feast of the Visitation was well prepared. Fr Roque presided. The children did the singing including the responsorial psalm! The Parish organist accompanied the singing. After Mass, Fr. Roque blessed the “new look” center with the additional outside kitchen and laundry areas. With the children with lit candles, and the guests, in tow, he led the procession from room to room, blessing both the inside and the outside.
Then it was lunch!!! Fr Fernando prayed the grace before meals. The queue was long and slow moving! The caterers had provided many scrumptious dishes of main meal. Then there was dessert and drinks. Not to forget the delicious roast pork, Talikala had given two roast pigs! “
We ask God’s blessings on Sr Lilibeth, Director of Balay Banaag, and on her supporting community as they minister in Mary’s name.
Members of the Marist Family gathered in Sydney to recall the Fourviere Pledge made by twelve seminarians 202 years ago. In the chapel of Our Lady of Fourviere they pledged to begin the congregation of Marists. Mass was celebrated in Holy Name of Mary Church Hunters Hill. During the offertory Procession hearts containing the names of those who followed those early Marists were brought forward and placed on the altar. The afternoon tea which followed provided an opportunity to experience the bonds of unity and friendship we experience as Marists. Today Marist Fathers, Marist Sisters, Marist Missionary Sisters, Marist Laity and Marist Brothers are found throughout the world. Like the twelve men of Fourviere, Marists today believe that
“we belong by a gracious choice to the family of blessed Mary, Mother of God, from whose name we are called Marists.”
Students, staff and parents from Marist Sisters College Woolwich and a number of Marist Sisters gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney to celebrate Foundress Day. During the Mass Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, Foundress of the Marist Sisters, was acknowledged.
At the beginning of the celebration College Principal, Dr Anne Ireland, launched the College’s renewed Marist Vision Statement.: Developing a Compass for Life. The young women of the College will be provided with opportunities that enable them to “think, judge, feel and act” as Mary and so be assisted to navigate their way through all aspects of life. There are four dimension to the vision – Courage for Life, Sisters for Life, Empower for Life and Gift for Life.
MSCW is committed to providing opportunities for young women to develop these four dimensions and to prepare graduates equipped with a ‘Marist Compass’ to successfully navigate Life
and make a valuable contribution to a better community and world.
On Saturday 9th June Marist Sisters in Australia gathered to discern their governance structure for the coming years. The day was facilitated by Marist Brother Graham Neist. We all appreciated the bonds of communion and the open discussion experienced throughout the day. At the conclusion of this day Sr Noelene Simmons was missioned by all present as she prepares to take up the role of General Bursar for our congregation.
In a spirit of joy and thanksgiving we all gathered again on Sunday 10th June to celebrate our jubilarians – Sr Carmel Murray (Diamond) and Srs Carroll McDonald and Maureen Crick (Golden). Celebrants at the Jubilee Mass were Fr Peter Jones osa(nephew of Sr Maureen) and Marist Father Ron Nissan. Also celebrating her Golden Jubilee this year, our Congregation Leader, Sr Grace Ellul, was remembered during the Mass.
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