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.
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.
Sr Birisita Bibi recently graduated from Corpus Christi Training College in Suva Fiji. Our Sisters’ contribution to Catholic Education in Fiji is well known – from those missionaries in the early days who staffed the Teachers’ College and ran the schools from which so many of our vocations came to the local Sisters who continue to serve schools in Lami, Levuka, Nadelei and Suva, as well as reaching out to the Indian community and training catechists. You are following in a great tradition, Biri! We are proud of you! May you, and the students you teach in the coming years, be richly blessed.
Fourvière celebrations in Suva, Fiji, began the evening before as members of the five branches of the Maist Family went to the Parish hall in Laucala Bay to put up pictures and decorate their booths in readiness for a vocation display the next day.
The morning of 23rd July, the day of the 200th anniversary of the promise at Fourviere, was bright and beautiful. The program began at 9.30am with prayer prepared by the FMS Brothers. It really set the tone for the day. The prayer concluded with a video clip presenting each of the branches. Then there was a time for mingling with other members of the Marist Family.
At 3pm in Laucala Bay Church Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Peter Loy Chong. He was very interested in our Marist History and wanted to know what happened after the promise and when and how the female branches came into the picture. His questions were answered by many who were sharing with him at the dinner table. Our celebrations ended with a lot of joyful dancing of thanksgiving and gratitude to God for those who made the promise, for the perseverance of Fr. Colin, Fr. Marcellin, Mother St Joseph and Sr. Francoise Perroton.