Silver Jubilee of Profession

Sr kate Renews Her Vows

The 25th Anniversary of Sr Kate’s Profession as a Marist Sister occurred on 7th December. Sr Kate ministers in Papua New Guinea but she is currently home in Australia for a holiday with her family. On the day of her Profession Anniversary she celebrated with her Marist Sisters in Sydney. The celebrant for the Mass was Sr Kate’s brother Fr Chris McPhee, a Missionary of the Sacred Heart priest. In welcoming everyone to the celebration Sr Gail acknowledged Kate’s fidelity to her vocation and her commitment to God. During Mass Kate renewed her vows. Kate acknowledged her Marist Sisters, her family and her friends who have supported her during the last twenty five years. The Mass was followed by a simple but joyfilled afternoon tea. All present congratulated Kate and wished her many blessings for the next twenty five years and beyond.

Marist Sister in ACRATH visit to Canberra

ACRATH members in Parliament Foyer

In November 2010, 15 women religious and colleagues undertook an ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans) networking and policy development week in Canberra. Over four days they met with members of Parliament, officials at the Embassies of China, the Philippines, Malaysia & the USA.

Discussion Group in Canberra

In addition we met with Prof Hilary Charlesworth from Australian National University, and with leadership from the AFP (Australian Federal Police), AIC (Australian Institute of Criminology), and CFMEU (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union). Sr Noelene, an Australian Marist Sister, was included in the group. For a full report on the ACRATH visit to Canberra click here.

Sr Nolasco Storck sm

Sr Nolasco Storck sm

Sr. Nolasco was born in Lautoka in the year 1915 and baptised Marjorie Storck. Her father was Ludwig Storck and her Mother Elizabeth Davis.

Sr. Nolasco inherited the best qualities of both races – German and European but Sister was always happy to be known as Fijian and insisted that her name be spelt StorCk. You will see in the booklet the different places where Sr. Nolasco has worked but you may not know her as a person and the many qualities that were hers. This is what I want to share with you.

Sister had a strong character – What was right was right and what was wrong was wrong. Human nature being what it is some people did not always appreciate this but that’s how it was.

Sr. Nolasco was a caring person. In New Zealand she spent time with the Maori Children
in Waitariki. In Fiji she helped many who needed help. Sister excelled in cooking and her Fruit Cakes were delicious. She shared this gift with the Marist Fathers especially morning teas on Sundays. And as she sat in her wheel – chair in the kitchen she guided me as I cooked pies, pasta and brandy sauce.

Sr. Nolasco was present to support families in times of distress – and when tragedy struck the Tabutoa family in Levuka, Sister sat and prayed together with Fr. John Crispin. Sister was their great support. Day and Night they waited and when the search for their dear father was called off Sister was there to support the Mother and Children and Fr. Crispin who was utterly devastated.

Sister Nolasco was a lover of Nature. She loved flowers and trees and the sky in the evenings delighted her, while the song of the birds filled her with joy. When we took her for a drive she was so happy to see again the beautiful shrubs and trees and especially around Christmas time the Golden Showers and Flamboyant. Sister also was a lover of animals and often asked if Rover had his food.

Sister Nolasco was a woman of many gifts and qualities which she used for Him and
His People. And now she is with Him enjoying the reward prepared for all those who love and serve Him.

On behalf of the Marist Sisters and Sr. Nolasco’s immediate family, especially Max Storck,
I wish to thank all those who helped Sister during her time of illness. We cannot name all of you but we do appreciate your kindness. However, I wish to express our gratitude to Dr. Raymond Fong who was there any time day or night when we needed him.

So, good bye Sr. Nolasco, and thank you for all you have shared with us during our life time together.
(Eulogy given by Sr Marlene at Sr Nolasco’s funeral Mass)

Sr Vivienne participates in National e-Conference: Mary First Disciple

Sr Vivienne

The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Broken Bay Institute recently hosted a National e-Conference entitled Mary First Disciple. The conference was streamed live via internet. It is estimated that more than 30,000 participants from from at least fifteen countries participated in this conference. The keynote speake, Fr Frank Moloney SDB, spoke on Mary as disciple, woman and mother.

E-Conference Panel with Sr Vivienne

Sr Vivienne facilitated a conversation on the gospel account of Mary at Cana. A student, a parent, the son of a teacher and a teacher from Marist Sisters’ College Woolwich formed the panel. Vivienne invited the panel to share on their impressions of this incident in the life of Mary and the challenges that it held for them in their own lives. In concluding the panel discussion, she invited all of us to let “Mary nudge us to listen to the One Voice that matters”.

Sr Martha Drummond sm

Sr Martha Drummond sm

“A life so hidden and yet so fruitful seemed to Fr Colin to be the model of what the life of the whole society (of Mary) should be”.

These words sum up the life of our dear Sr Martha Drummond whom we honour and lay to rest today. She, Alice Joyce, was born in Manly in 1919 and had 3 older brothers – Edmund, Francis and Leonard. In 1921 her mother Martha, having lost her husband, married Augustus (Gus) Drummond who became a good father to the family. In 1922 her twin sisters Mavis and Louisa were born in Lawson. In 1924 after the tragic death of nine-year old Leonard in a riding accident the family moved to Penrith where many happy years were spent. They lived next to the convent of the Sisters of St Joseph where Joyce (as she was always called) and her sisters were educated.

After leaving school Joyce moved into clerical employment until 1943 when, during World War II, she enlisted in the Australian Women’s Army Service, being posted firstly to Bathurst and then to Melbourne. She worked as a clerical assistant and in the Quartermaster’s store was promoted to Corporal and drove very large Army trucks in Victoria. In the Army she met her lifelong friend Kath Bobridge who remembers Joyce’s prowess as a keen ballroom dancer.

When she was discharged from the Army she entered the Marist Sister’s Congregation in December 1946 and at her reception was given the name Sr Martha to the great joy of her mother who was also Martha. Her first posting was to Mittagong where the Sisters were pioneering a boarding school for developmentally disadvantaged children.

Then followed many years of faithful service in Australia and eleven years in New Zealand. Our Congregational Leader, Sr Jane Frances, knew Sr Martha when she was a pupil of Mt Albert in Auckland. In her email she speaks of Martha as the kindest, gentlest and most thoughtful Marist Sister she had met and this continued down the years. She stressed her ability to listen, understand and empathise with everyone at all times and Martha’s tremendous respect for the value of the person and her spirit of openness and hospitality. The sisters in New Zealand have many lovely memories of her.

When I lived with Martha in Burwood, Melbourne, I was inspired by her loving motherly care for two very aged sisters, Cuthbert and Odilon, and also her compassion and joyful good humoured presence in the community. She was a great driver, a wonderful cook and house keeper, always ready to serve and help her loved Marist Sisters, and her own family. She exercised her gift of hospitality to so many people. She was very good to the priests of the parish. I remember Martha quietly preparing a daily egg-flip for a young and very fragile assistant priest. However, I believe he gained much more than health care from the 11am egg-flip given with such understanding and friendship by Martha. When she came to Marian House in 1991 she worked tirelessly and unobtrusively for all till gradually she slowed down but remained always cheerful and interested in everything. During those years she discovered she had an aptitude for Art and produced some lovely paintings and drawings.

When I was at Martha’s bedside in Royal North Shore Hospital I felt what a patient, enduring and strong heart she had! The words of our charism “Hidden and Unknown” express the gentle Marian presence of Martha. She never drew attention to herself, simply fitting in wherever she could be of service, never seeking praise or acknowledgement. The qualities of Mary also embodied in Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, our Foundress, seem to find resonance in Martha’s life: “humility, poverty, love of work, in an integration of prayer and action in constant union with God”.

Dear Sister Martha we will miss you but will never forget your true example of an authentic Marist life. May you rest in peace in the arms of the Holy Family – Jesus, Mary and Joseph – and all the saints. O give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His merciful love endures forever.


Sr Muriel Austin sm

Sr Muriel Austin sm

It’s just over 70 years since Sr Muriel made her first profession just down the road in the Woolwich chapel on the feast of the Archangels 1939. So, what we celebrate today is not only a long life (95 years), but a long life of faithfulness to God in the Congregation of Mary!
Frances Muriel Austin was born in Goulburn in 1914 to Arthur Austin and Ellen Curry. Her mother’s early death brought about a separation from her brother Arthur and sister Joyce as the three were placed in the care of different relatives and subsequently lost touch.
Muriel was brought up in Waverley by her grandmother to whom she was very devoted. Clearly it was this woman who developed in Muriel her deep faith. I remember her telling me about a picture of Our Lady above her bed as a child and her grandmother saying that this was her mother now. That was a precious memory for her.

No doubt it was also her grandmother who fostered Muriel’s lady-like demeanour. The Holy Cross Convent School at Woollahra was – according to my research – a select high school set up by Cardinal Moran and the Mercy Sisters for Catholic middle class girls, its primary purpose being the imparting Catholic faith integrated with a suitable middle class education, equal to, but preferably excelling that offered by state schools. Afterwards, having also gained a commercial qualification, Muriel took up office work.

At what point she felt drawn to a religious vocation is not certain. What is clear is that Muriel waited until her grandmother died, no doubt caring for her until the end. Muriel’s upbringing equipped her well in some ways for religious life and not so well in others. It was once remarked that she was more suited for the life of an ambassador’s wife than for the life of a Marist Sister. However, Muriel was a determined woman, who knew her own mind and followed tenaciously the path she thought was right. And Marist religious life was surely what she considered the path for her.

On her profession Sr Stephanie, as she was then known, was missioned to New Zealand where she spent almost 25 years. Most of these were spent teaching very young children who warmed instantly to her gentle manner and soon learned the importance of avoiding her disapproval. In 1964, after all those years of teaching experience, Muriel returned to Sydney, as was often the case for sisters in those days, to receive her teacher training.
Thus began a stint of some 14 years ministering in education in three states of Australia. In Victoria, Muriel served in both our primary schools, at Burwood and Bennetswood, for four years each. At St Scholastica’s she proved to be what could be termed “multi-tasked” also holding the positions of – local assistant, local bursar, deputy head and infants co-ordinator! This was followed by four years at Star of the Sea Gladstone and another two at St Margaret Mary’s Merrylands.

From 1978 Muriel moved into a new phase of ministry for more than 20 years. Having retired from school, she took up parish work and later pastoral work which she combined with various administrative roles – local superior, local bursar and provincial secretary. During this time she lived in Blacktown, Keilor, Haberfield and Woolwich. Even when she moved to Marian House in 1996, it was still in order to assist with the care of our sisters there. Indeed, Muriel continued to work in her thorough, meticulous, yet unhurried way, until her official retirement in 2000 when she was 85 years old!

Throughout her ministerial life, once Muriel was convinced about a certain project, she organised the means to the end in quite a remarkable way. Together with her very persuasive manner, her highly detailed planning led to very fruitful results. Two examples come to mind.

At St Margaret Mary’s in the seventies Muriel organised the education of parents for the new rite of reconciliation. This was a mammoth task as it was to be not only input but process work. About 30-40 group leaders were required to come on each of three separate nights. Each sister living in our large community at the time was approached by Muriel. Needless to say, every group was covered, as it would have taken a courageous woman to decline. In Keilor a few years later, Muriel set up a parish-based network of pastoral care, again requiring a huge amount of painstaking organisation. Both endeavours were highly successful. The Marian group she began in Keilor continues to function to this day.

Another constant appearing through the whole of Muriel’s active life was driving the car. She loved it and reminded us often that we were safe with her as she had done a Defensive Driving Course. She did have one accident – she had parked the car and was accompanying a sister into the doctor’s surgery when suddenly they noticed the car rolling backwards down the road. Muriel took chase down the middle of the road, car keys aloft. But the car met one coming out and then swerved into three stationary cars before a fourth put an end to its advance, finally allowing Muriel to catch up with it! No one seems to remember when Muriel gave up driving, but when she did there was a collective sigh of relief through the province! Personally I am convinced that there was a special bubble of protection around her as no one was ever hurt.

Sr Laurentia Furlong sm

Sr Laurentia Furlong sm

Brigid Furlong, or we knew her, Sr Laurentia, was born in Tipperary – I presume there is no need to spell out which country! She made her novitiate in Peckham and Paignton, in England, being professed on the 26th October, 1939, which almost coincides with the outbreak of World War II.

The War was to play an important role in her very early years, As a young professed she was called on to take some child evacuees in 1941 to Fishguard, which was a relatively safe centre from the bombing in London. She would tell us the story of her evacuation and her part in it. She remained there for a year with one other Marist Sister but living with the Sisters of Mercy. This whole episode had a very deep effect on her as a young sister. Indeed, living in England where both Peckham and Paignton, houses of the Marist Sisters were and where she stayed, were bombed. When the war was over in 1945 she set out for Fiji. Such was her courage.

She was one of the first arrivals after the war. Her first appointment was at Levuka. She spent the next 25 years in Fiji in many of the mission stations, none of which was easy. With a few short breaks, she remained there until 1972. She was an excellent teacher and very kind with the children she taught, though the climate was not always easy for a native of Tipperary. Again we see that determined courage.

Australia was the next stopping place with an appointment to Gladstone, then Keilor in Melbourne and finally North Mackay where she remained for some years, with a break in Ireland when a family member was ill. In these appointments she was really great, relating well to the children, and most especially to those she was taking who had specific learning difficulties.

Not very often, but now and again, she showed she was a woman of great spirit. One such occasion occurred in Mackay, when the superior had made a promise to drive her across the river to St Pat’s for Confession every second Saturday. The superior had the misfortune to forget, but I can tell you she never forgot again. Laurie, as we called her, could be very volatile.

When she came to Sydney and lived at Blacktown all her hidden artistic gifts came to the fore which she hadn’t been able to apply herself to before. Painting and craft became works of art in her hand and she was able to use these gifts to support the parish craft stall. As well she was a great nature lover, especially of the birds.

What she loved most however, was organizing the monthly Masses held in the Blacktown house for the elderly and disabled. She prepared the Mass with every bit of care she could muster and enjoyed the company of those who attended. She extended this pastoral care to those in hospital whom she visited every week.

But all this time, what I think very few of us knew was the ill-health she managed to hide and that was with her for many years. When she was well in her nineties, she went to Marian House and then to St Anne’s where she was cared for so lovingly.

Laurie, you can now enjoy to the full the God you loved so much and Mary, his Mother. As our Mother Foundress says,

We shall be very happy
at the hour of our death
if we have known how to take advantage
of all the moments of life.

Laurie, you certainly knew how to do that. May you rest in peace.

Sr Carmel Conran sm

Sr Carmel Conran sm

Dorothy May Conran, was born in Glebe on the 25th January 1920. She was the eldest of five children born to Edward and May Conran. At the time of her reception into the Marist Sisters Novitiate she was given the name Sr Carmel and then made her first profession as a Marist Sister in February 1940.

Sr. Carmel Conran was a rich woman, not in the way we usually think of riches, but because she had been endowed by God with many talents and she didn’t bury, waste or deny any of these. Our regional leader, Sr. Julie, writes “Carmel lived in loving faithfulness to her marist vocation and served the mission of the Congregation in three countries of our Region, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Carmel taught in both Primary and Secondary schools and was also a music teacher.”

For almost seventy years, as a Marist Sister, Carmel endeavoured to make the mystery of Mary in the Church, the daily inspiration of her life and actions in classrooms and music rooms among pupils, parents, friends and parishioners, endeavouring to think, to judge, to feel and to act as Mary did. Fort of these years were spent in New Zealand teaching classes or as a specialist teacher of music in Putaruru, Karori and Mt. Albert

In the eighties when the Catholic schools in New Zealand were being integrated into the Government Education System, Carmel was called upon to play a major role in this process. About this event, Sr. Julie recalls, “Her vision and her passion, together with her perceptiveness and clarity of thought equipped her well for her work with the Catholic Education department.” She worked on a committee with the Bishops and was the Liaison Officer for the Catholic schools, and was required to make sure that school buildings, Staffs, and Curriculum were all up to the required standard.

Sr Carmel with Srs Veronica and Teresa from Fiji

Carmel spent about five years in Fiji and was asked to work with the Columban Priests in a co-educational multi-cultural secondary school in Ba, Fiji. The student body was predominately Indian. At the time of Carmel’s death, Sr. Mary Frances, now in England wrote, “I have happy memories of our time in Ba at Xavier College. The Staff and Students, held Carmel in high regard and were very much aware of her interest in their well-being and development…” Carmel reached out in particular to the young girls who often needed her special help and advice as many of them came from rural areas and were poor.

When asked to fulfil leadership roles, Carmel always answered the challenge graciously. Our Congregational Leader, Sr. Jane Frances remarked, how “Carmel was a very strong person and a broad thinker with vision. I will never forget,” she says,” the steps Carmel took in New Zealand to bring us into the future. That Sector is very grateful for her style of leadership and her fearless approach. The Congregation always came first and she would forge ahead with Mary’s mission in mind regardless of her self. I also remember her wit and her ability to see through situations.” Leadership roles called forth Carmel’s expertise as an organiser, a planner, a forward thinker. During the six years that she was the leader of Mount Albert Community, a new convent was built. Much thought went into the planning and the result was a home for the sisters, that was functional, comfortable and artistically pleasing.

Carmel’s concern for her sisters was very evident. She was able to show empathy with them in both their successes and disappointments. She was quick to sympathize with the sisters whenever any misfortune or ill-health touched members of their families. Her interest was real and sincere and her kindness went out to many. As Sr. Julie reminds us, “she was also caring and compassionate to the older and frailer members of the community. I recall that she lived and served in Marian house for over ten years in total and also spent two years assisting the community of older Marist Fathers at Maryvale, Hunters Hill.

Towards the end of her life, Carmel spent three years in our small community at Rosemeadow. Although retired, Carmel contributed to the life of the parish. She helped in the parish office, loved meeting the parishioners, and joined the ‘getting to know you’ group. She also animated a Lenten Group. Carmel had a great devotion to the Rosary and was often seen carrying her beads. She was intelligent, very well read and could converse on many topics.

When Carmel’s failing health required that she become a resident at Chesalon Nursing Home she was asking us to pray that God would take her to Himself – she was waiting for God to say, “Come”. On the evening prior to her death, assisted by Srs Carmel Murray and Gail, Carmel renewed her vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience. Shortly after that Father Kennedy, the Parish Priest of West Pennant Hills, came and gave Carmel the Sacrament of the Dying. She entered eternal life on 23rd September 2009.

We give thanks to God for the gift of Sr Carmel’s life. We ask her to obtain blessings for us as she enters into Heaven and into the company of Mary and all our Marist saints. We also pray for her family, for her many friends and for all those who cared for her in her time of ill-health. May Carmel rest in peace.