On 6th February sixteen Marist Sisters in New Zealand travelled to Whangaparoa for a lunch to celebrate Waitangi Day, a special national day in Aotearoa New Zealand.
This day celebrates who we are – as a people, as a country and as a nation. Waitangi Day 2020 marks 180 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the founding document of Aotearoa New Zealand. It signaled the beginning of a long relationship between the Maori people (the first people of the land) and other cultures.
Several photos were taken during the celebration. One was a photo of the youngest Sister and the oldest Sister in the Marist Sisters Unit of Aotearoa New Zealand.
On Saturday the 5th of October, several Religious Congregations, Diocesan seminarians and young people gathered at Saint Joseph parish, Grey Lynn Auckland for a Vocation Expo. Marist Sisters in New Zealand were represented by Srs Tulua and Seini.
The day started with a mass at 8:15 am and various people from different congregations shared on their vocation call and charism to young people. It was a lovely opportunity to meet a lot of young Catholic people and share our Marist charism. The day ended with a lovely lunch.
Marist Sisters in New Zealand and throughout the world are rejoicing in the First Profession of Sr Tulua Matangi’otuafi sm which took place in Orakei, NZ, on Saturday 2nd December. Tulua’s profession took placce in the presence of her Marist Sisters and her mother who had travelled from Tonga and other members of her family who had come from places such as USA, Tonga, Samoa, Australia, Hamilton and Wellington. Bishop Pat Dunn,Bishop of Auckland, officiated at the Profession Mass together with Mons. Pat Ward, Fr Pat Breeze sm and Fr Pat Brady.
Sister Gemma, Unit Leader of New Zealand, guided the procedure. Tulua responded to all that was asked of her clearly and with grace, and firmly declared her desire to live the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience in the Congregation of Mary, Marist Sisters. Read more…
Click on the images below to see an enlarged photo.
Marist Sisters in New Zealand gathered at Mt Albert in Auckland to celebrate on November 18th our bicentenary of foundation. We were supported by a great many members of the Marist Family and parishioners who came to share our story and give thanks with us. Our celebrant Fr David Kennerley, provincial of the Marist Fathers, brought an all-inclusive simplicity and spontaneity to the celebration of the Eucharist which warmed all hearts.
Sr Marie Challacombe gave a reflection coming from her recent experience in Coutouvre. This linked us with that international and local event, and with past generations of Marist Sisters who faithfully transmitted the spirit of Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, Marie Jotillon and Jean-Claude and Pierre Colin to us throughout these 200 years.
A convivial gathering in the Primary School hall after the Eucharist gave us all an opportunity to catch up and exchange news. Before we all departed each branch of the Marist Family, our four past Marist schools and the parish of St Mary’s was presented with a framed copy of the plaque erected in the church at Coutouvre on October 3rd with an explanation of its contents.
Sr Antonia Avey sm was called to eternal life on Saturday 29th April 2017.
Eternal Rest grant to her, OLord.
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 Antonia’s family. At Antonia’s funeral Sr Francine delivered the following eulogy.
“When I heard last Saturday morning that Antonia had gone to her real home, these lines (with a slight gender change) came to mind – lines from the poem ‘Requiem’ by Robert Louis Stephenson:
Here she lies where she longed to be:
Home is the sailor, home from sea
And the hunter home from the hill
Antonia had a great desire and longing to be with God which in the latter years of her life she expressed often. I will talk about this later.
In “Sr Antonia’s Story” where she writes about her life, and in special detail her 23 years as a missionary in Fiji, she speaks of a happy and united family life with an open door to anyone who cared to call. This characterised Toni’s attitude towards anyone who called at our door during the 10 years I lived with her in Linden and Tawa. It was in her family that her vocation was fostered. She would often accompany her Dad to daily Mass. She said his deep love of the sacramental presence of the Lord rubbed off on her.
Antonia did her primary schooling in Taihape and the convent school in Frankton with the Sisters of the Mission continuing at Sacred Heart in Hamilton. Her final year was spent as a boarder in Mt Albert with the intention of getting to know the sisters before travelling to Sydney. She thoroughly enjoyed that year but admits to ‘not studying terribly hard’ and she writes “At the back of my mind I thought that if I didn’t study too well they might not want to have me in the convent. What generosity! However I was gradually coming round to the truth that Jesus was calling me and I would answer the call.”
This she did in 1940 on the S.S.Mariposa with Sr Margarita at the tender age of 17 years. They both got very sick on the boat and she tells the story of them and I quote, ‘feeling so seedy the second night we couldn’t face going down to our cabin. We staggered down to get a couple of cabin blankets, came back to the deck, made ourselves as comfortable as we could on deck chairs, draped ourselves in the cabin blankets and there we stayed. A couple of times someone came along the deck saying, “Would those with cabin blankets on the deck please return them to the cabins.” Neither of us moved. We thought that if they wanted them back in the cabin they could take them themselves. We weren’t going down again. We awoke next morning to the sound of swishing water with sailors washing the deck.”
The novitiate at that time was in Woolwich, a beautiful spot which overlooked the Lane Cove River in Sydney. Her time there was short-lived as a submarine was spotted in Sydney Harbour and the Woolwich community, the Novitiate and boarding school of 50-60 boarders had to move to Mittagong, a safer place in the country. The hardships during this time were a very good preparation for her time as a missionary in Fiji. This move fulfilled her greatest desire which was to be a missionary.
She travelled to Fiji and spent the next 23 years there as a primary school teacher in different schools. 13 years were spent on a remote island in the Yasawas which was the highlight of her time in Fiji. Travelling on the village boats to reach the island took 8 hours and Antonia was very fearful to begin with but after a couple of trips with the Fijian crews, she lost all her fear because of their prowess at handling the boats. She had many stories to tell of her time there.
Antonia returned to NZ in 1967 where she taught at Mt Albert. She completed her teacher training at Loreto Hall and then taught at both Mt Albert and Herne Bay with several years in Melbourne. Subsequent years were spent in remedial teaching and pastoral work in 7 different parishes throughout the North Island. Her work in Linden, Tawa was mostly with refugees who benefited greatly by Antonia’s teaching skills. One of them who came from Cambodia, wanted to set up a hairdressing business and Antonia spent a lot of time taking him around and showing him what that would entail. He changed his mind but did manage to set up a hairdressing business in his garage later. A young Somali girl was another of Antonia’s pupils and she took infinite pains with her. She came to live in a bedsit opposite our house in Linden where she received a lot of mentoring and instruction. Another Chinese gentleman with his wife went to see her several times at Marian Rest Home as it was called then when she moved North and they still ask after her 10 years later.
In 2007 Antonia moved from Tawa to MacKillop Care and we were told what a wonderful difference she made there, greeting newcomers and visitors with a cheerful smile and a kind word as well as making a great contribution to the life of the residents with her astuteness, sense of humour and prowess at rummykub in the early days and scrabble later. Prue, the Manager, said she was one of life’s special ladies, everyone loved her and she was a joy to have every day. She would walk around humming and singing, often telling someone how nice she looked and that if the admired item of clothing was left around, she’d take it and put in her wardrobe. Gemma recounts that in probably the last game of scrabble she ever played, she beat her by getting TWO words of 7 letters thus receiving two bonuses! This is spite of being in a lot of pain! Prior to her illness, she was a dab hand at cryptic crosswords, crochet and knitting.
Antonia has lived in 15 convents in Fiji, Australia and New Zealand touching the lives of countless numbers of people and many, many children. She was a woman of deep faith, prayer and compassion, totally committed to living out her vocation as a Marist Sister. It was a great hardship for her to live out of her own community in the last 10 years but she did so in a spirit of acceptance and courage. I have already mentioned that Antonia often expressed a longing for Heaven and in St Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians he wrote “We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.” This longing for Heaven, this homesickness for heaven is something Antonia bore within herself daily. She remembered that Jesus said “There are many rooms in my Father’s house, if there were not I should have told you I am going now to prepare a place for you and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me so that where I am you may be too. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
On April 29th in the 74th year of her Marist life, God called Antonia home.
On 28th January Sr Margarita celebrated 70 years of Religious Profession as a Marist Sister. Because of her frailty it was decided that the celebration would take place at the Kauri Lodge Care home where she has been for nearly two years now. The day began with Father Ralph leading a Communion service. He spoke very beautifully of Margarita’s consecration 70 years ago and of her life of dedication to God’s people since that day. This was followed by a special morning tea. A number of Marist Sisters in New Zealand and some of Margarita’s friends from Waitaruke were present to celebrate with her.
All through the Communion service and the celebration Margarita was smiling. It was lovely to see her joy. She was excited about cards and messages she received. She says a big thank you for all the messages and support she received.
Sr Analulu Tanuvasa sm died peacefully in Auckland, New Zealand, on Sunday 25th January 2015. We give thanks for the wonderful Marist woman that Ana has been. What a valiant woman – so apostolic, generous and faithful. May she enjoy the wonderful rewards of eternal life. We pray for Analulu’s family and for the Marist Sisters of the Sector of Aotearoa-New Zealand.
The following eulogy was written by Sr Gemma Wilson, Sector Leader of Aotearoa-New Zealand.
“Analulu was born in Apia, Samoa, on the 18th February 1949. She was not always a Catholic but was baptised at the age of 13 on the 17th December 1962. Her primary schooling took place at St Joan of Arc, Apia from 1955 to 1964 and her secondary at St Mary’s SMSM College in Apia from 1968-1970. In 1979 already a Marist Sister, she completed her secondary education at Marist College, Mt Albert. She also studied at Corpus Christi in Suva, Fiji, from 1989-82
Ana made her novitiate in Australia and was professed in 1977. From then on she served in several countries: New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, The Gambia and the Philippines. Ana’s ministries were wide-ranging: she worked as a Primary School teacher in New Zealand, as Chaplain to the Samoan people in Auckland; she worked in a Night Shelter and also a Woman’s refuge in Auckland and in a soup kitchen in Wellington. She was chaplain at the Davao City Jail in The Philippines. In 2008 she did a C.P.E prior to working as a hospital chaplain in Wellington.
Ana was also active in several Congregational ministries. She worked as Vocations’ Directress in New Zealand and also in The Gambia and the Philippines. She was part of the Pastoral Planning team in NZ in 2002 and was sector assistant in New Zealand from 2008 till her death at the beginning of 2015. She was formater for our candidates in Mount Albert in 1994. She was coordinator of JPIC for the New Zealand Sector from 2008 till 2012.
These resumés of Ana’s ministries do not adequately reveal just how passionate Ana was both for the poor and marginalized and for her Congregation. She worked very hard for both right up till a few weeks before her death when her disease became a handicap. She was very sad when ill health obliged her to leave the Gambia. Several years later she volunteered again for a missionary country – this time offering to go to the Philippines. Sadly after 2 years there sickness once again obliged her to withdraw. In both these missions Ana is still remembered for the love and the energy with which she worked for the poor and at the same time for the growth of her beloved Congregation.
Ana was diagnosed with lung cancer in2005. No one could have foreseen that she would live nearly 10 years more. Though diet and exercise contributed to this it was above all through her faith in God’s power to heal her that she was able to live a remarkably full life for so long. Though her health slowly deteriorated in 2013 and 2014 she continued with her ministries and her faith in God’s healing love remained as strong as ever. She was a delegate to the Asia Pacific Regional Chapter just 3 months before her death. Finally however it became clear to her and to all of us that Ana was getting worse. She was hospitalized several times. During her last days in Auckland hospital she made a conscious decision to let go and announced that she would wait until her brother Sepu, a Presbyterian minister, arrived from the USA, before dying! Her sisters, nephews and nieces and cousins were constantly with her as well as her Marist Sisters. During these 4 days Ana prepared the liturgies for the two Masses she wanted celebrated after her death. She wrote in great detail her instructions for both Masses and said several times that she wanted a “simple Marist funeral” and didn’t want anyone wearing black! On the eve of her death many of her relations gathered in her room for a Mass celebrated by her nephew Fr. Etuale from Fiji. At midnight her brother Sepulogo arrived. Ana and Sepu talked for a little while and then he said a prayer for her to which she answered AMEN quite strongly before her breathing slowed down and she surrendered to the God who had always been the centre of her life.
Ana’s send-off was exactly as she had planned it! Father Iosefa, parish priest of Papatoetoe where she had lived and worked for several years, celebrated the Vigil Mass together with several others in a packed Church. The following day her friend Father Carl Telford SM officiated at the Requiem Mass at which 12 other priests concelebrated and later at the graveside at Panmure where she was buried with the many other Marist Sisters who are buried there. Pray for us all Ana!”
Sr Judith O’Donnell sm died in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday 26th April 2014. As a Primary School teacher Sr. Judith ministered for ten years in Fiji (Vatukoula and Lautoka) and five in Australia (Merrylands), as well as many years in her homeland of Aotearoa-New Zealand. Her years of suffering have now ended and we are confident that she is celebrating the fullness of life with St Peter Chanel and all our Marist Saints. May she rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are also with all Marist Sisters in New Zealand as they celebrate Judith’s life and entrust her to God’s eternal embrace. Read the eulogy delivered at Sr Judith’s funeral here.
Marist Sisters in New Zealand gathered recently for the Jubilee celebrations for Srs Antonia(70 years), Juliana(60 years), Francine(50 years) and Iulia(25 years). The celebrations began with a joyful parish Mass at Mt Albert. Fr Grahame Connolly sm, Mons. Brendan Daly and parish priest, Fr Sateki Raas, presided and family members attended. Fr Grahame spoke of the significance of gratitude in our life.
After a delicious meal at a Kumeu restaurant it was back to Mt Albert for the opening of gifts and reading of congratulatory messages.
We give thanks to God for our Marist Jubilarians who have served a total of two hundred and five years of Marist commitment.