The Marist Sisters’ Novitiate community in New Zealand decided to honour the spirit of “Laudato Si” on the Monday of Queen’s Birthday weekend – which was also a public holiday and, more importantly for Marists, the Feast of St Marcellin Champagnat!
The place they chose was the Auckland Zoo which has been renovated to become a place not only of conservation of many diminishing species such as the kiwi and takahe, the Siberian tiger and the Asia elephant but also a place where visitors are invited to slow down, to reconnect with nature and to be inspired. They were surrounded by plants, trees, birds, insects, people…
Set in a patch of native bush they found it to be a place of contemplation, meditation, discovery and learning! As you can see in the photo, they paused at the magnificent carving of “Tane nui e Rangi” at the
entrance of the forest aviary of the Zoo. “Tane” is the Maori god of the forest. This carving is the work of five Maori carvers, and they honoured the presence of the Maori people of New Zealand.
While they enjoyed their day very much, they were also conscious of the invitation of Pope Francis to have an ‘ecological conversion’, whereby the effects of our encounter with Jesus Christ will become more evident in our relationship with the world around us.
The Marist Sisters arrived gradually through the months of February and March 2009. By the end of March we were a community of three, Sr Lavina Henry from Fiji, Sr Kathleen Bright from New Zealand and Sr Kate McPhee from Australia. For each of us our first introduction to life here in PNG was through our Marist Confreres either in Bomana or in our own Parish of Kanosia.
The months have been rich with life and activities and there has been a lot to take in. Our encounter with the Kanosia Parish and its diversity from the Wama station with its many cultures to each of the Villages within the Parish continues to be an enriching experience.
We have been introduced to many festive occasions where Traditional dancing has been a significant part. From the blessing of our house, to Diocesan festivals, back to the opening of 3 School houses, to our own Marist Feast on the 12th September, the Parish feast of St Vincent de Paul and then Advent and Christmas celebrations it has all been a wealth of culture and diversity.
We are getting use to the fact that this is truly the ‘Land of the Unexpected’ with each day bringing its differences and sometimes many challenges. One learns a lot about ‘Waiting’ especially when it comes to Banks and business-like dealings as well as meetings within the Village.
But even this is overtaken by the natural beauty of this country and of its people. God is certainly alive and active in this place, enriching both it and us with life and love.
Currently there are two young women from Papua New Guinea in the Marist Sisters’ Novitiate in Davao, the Philippines. During their novitiate period Catherine and Celina are undertaking studies in spiritual, theological and Marist formation while reflecting more deeply on their call to be Marist Sisters.
On 6th February Marist Sisters of the Sydney communities gathered at Marian House. After a beautiful prayer Gail farewelled and missioned Grace, who soon will take up her ministry as Novitiate Formator in the Marist Sisters’ Novitiate in the Philippines.
Then Vivienne, who has recently been appointed Sector Assistant, was also missioned.
Kate was present before returning to our new mission in Papua New Guinea. Therefore it was an appropriate occasion to acknowledge her Silver Jubilee and present her with the customary Papal Blessing. A delicious afternoon tea was provided and this gave all present the opportunity to farewell Grace and Kate and congratulate Vivienne in a joyful Marist celebration.