Marist Sisters in the Asia-Pacific region celebrated the Season of Creation in various ways. The Season of Creation provided us with an opportunity to reflect on our common home, the Earth, and commit to ways of respecting and protecting it into the future.
In Fiji the sisters do this simply by planting their own vegetables, keeping their environment clean, pot planting, planting root crops and composting.
In the Raiwaqa community Sr Rosemary put together a display depicting creation from the beginning and the current devastating state of the earth -the natural and man -made destructive forces brought about through the effects of climate change. Many of the psalms sing in praise of God’s creation. As Bearers of Hope, we believe the Earth is alive and vibrant and wish to do all in our power to protect it.
In the Sefton Community in Australia, Srs Gail and Kate celebrated the Congregation feastday, the Holy Name of Mary, with a practical response to the Season of Creation. They did a make over of their garden.
Sisters in the Merrylands community gathered to renew their vows on September 12, the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Due to the Covid-19 lockdown situation in greater Sydney it was impossible to come together physically especially as three of the five community members live in an aged care facility.
Srs Bev and Judith gathered and lit a candle for each of the sisters in community. Srs Julia, Veronica and Therese were able to connect by phone and together they joined in prayer and renewed their vows before concluding with the Salve Regina.
Australian Marist Sister Clare Francis celebrated her 99th birthday recently. As she resides in an aged care facility she was unable to have visitors on her birthday due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Staff at Southern Cross Residential Aged Care in Marsfield did not let her birthday pass unnoticed. The kitchen staff made her a delicious cake which she enjoyed sharing with the other residents. Clare also received cards and phone calls from the sisters in Australia and beyond.
We look forward to celebrating with you on your 100th birthday next year Clare.
“Let Marists always bear in mind
that they belong by a gracious choice
to the family of the Blessed Virgin
Mother of God.
In her name they are called Marists
and they chose her as their model.”
(Spirit of the Society of Mary)
As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Mary (12th September), Marists throughout the world take time to reflect on the privilege that is ours in bearing the name of Mary. Mary is our model guiding us as we endeavour to live as true disciples of Jesus.
Throughout her life Mary responded with compassion to those in need. She responded when her cousin Elizabeth was in need. She responded to the needs of the young couple at Cana. She remained at the foot of the cross when her Son was in need. She was with the apostles as the waited for the Spirit.
Like Mary, Marists are called to respond to the needs of our time through our prayer and where possible through our actions. We pray that Mary will guide and encourage us as we strive, like her, to bring the compassion of God to all.
We, the undersigned, striving to work together for the greater Glory of God and the honour of Mary, Mother of the Lord Jesus, assert and declare our sincere intention and firm will of consecrating ourselves, at the first opportunity, to founding the pious congregation of Marists.
That is why by the present act and our signatures, in so far as we can, we irrevocably dedicate ourselves and all our goods to the Society of the Blessed Virgin. (Pledge of Fourvière, 23rd July 1816)
The anniversary of the Pledge of Fourvière each year is a time for Marist throughout the world to recall with gratitude the beginnings of the Marist Family. On 23rd July 1816 twelve seminarians climbed the 800 steep steps from the City of Lyon to the Chapel of Our Lady of Fourvière. Here they committed themselves to the Marist project.
The Marist project has grown to be a family of five branches – Marist Father, Marist Sisters, Marist Brothers, Marist Missionary Sisters and Marist laity – with a presence throughout the world.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions it will not be possible in some countries for Marist to come together physically for prayer and celebration this year. This will not dampen our enthusiasm to recall the Fourvière event and to renew our own commitment to the Marist project. Online opportunities are being provided for Marists to connect, give thanks, recommit and celebrate. One such opportunity has been prepared by Marist Laity Australia. For information on how you can connect with Marist in Australia click here. All are welcome to join with Marists in prayer and thanksgiving on this day.
On 15th July, Australian Marist Sister, Sr Joan McBride, celebrated the 70th Anniversary of her profession as a Marist Sister. Due to Covid-19 restrictions it was not possible for Joan to have visitors on the day. However the staff of St Joseph’s Aged Care Facility in Hunters Hill and other Marist Sisters resident in the facility did their best to make the day special for Joan.
We give thanks for Joan’s many years of faithful service and for the inspiration she has been to many. We ask God’s blessing on Joan as she continues living the Gospel as Mary did.
Marist Sisters celebrate the feast of their Foundress, Jeanne-Marie Chavoin each year on 30th June, the anniversary of her death.
After Jeanne-Marie’s death in 1858 the Superior General of the Marist Sisters at the time, Mother Ambrose, wrote to the sisters of the Congregation speaking of Jeanne-Maire’s “holy and exemplary life, her generous and unfailing devotedness.” She was described by one of the early Marist Sisters as “kind, affable with everyone and gained the affection of all who knew her. She was large-hearted and when she helped anyone she did so generously.”
Jeanne-Marie encouraged her sisters to “walk always in God’s presence” and “to live the life of this divine Mother, which is none other than the life of Christ”.
As Marist Sisters today recall her life with gratitude, we pray that her faith and courage will continue to inspire us as we strive to follow Christ by living the Gospel as Mary did.
Cerdon College Merrylands takes Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, Foundress of the Marist Sisters, as their College Patron. Each year around her feastday the College sets aside a day to celebrate Jeanne-Marie Chavoin within the school community. This year because of the limitations imposed by Covid-19 the College was not able to have a full school Mass. Therefore, a liturgical celebration was held within the school setting.
Jeanne-Marie Chavoin came ‘back to the future’ and was interviewed by a student in a 21st century context. The occasion this year also marked the end of 61 years of physical presence of a Marist Sister on the Cerdon College Staff. Sr Kate McPhee, after a long association with the College, finished serving in school ministry moving on to minster elsewhere.
There is no doubt that the Marist Spirit is truly alive and well among the staff and students of Cerdon College and the Marist Sisters are confident that Mary’s spirit will continue to permeate the life of the College Community into the future.
Fijian Marist Sister, Sr Mariana Tevurega, is Coordinator for Women’s Ministry on behalf of Caritas in the Archdiocese of Suva. Through the Women at the Well programme Mariana leads workshops and prayer sessions for women as well as working with parishes on the issue of violence against women and children. The following links will lead to to reports on some of the activities Mariana has been involved in.
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.