Justice Conversation in Australia

A group of Marist Sisters gathered in Sydney recently to consider how we as Marist Sisters, each according to her situation, might respond to the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation issues which seem paramount for us. Our concerns for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation are rooted in the Gospel and its call to live as disciples of Jesus. We are also impelled by the Church’s social teaching which Pope Francis draws on and is articulating in many ways, and by our Marist vocation to live Mary’s spirit in all aspects of our lives.

 

This conversation highlighted the many ways in which sisters are responding to a variety of issues in our prayer, in interactions, small or large, that we might have with people, in our support of particular advocates and agencies, in our reading and gathering of information. The sisters left the meeting energised and with renewed commitment to seek justice for those who are vulnerable and for our common home.

 

Feast of the Holy Name of Mary

…It is my wish and the wish of my Son,
that there be another Society, one consecrated to me,
in which they will bear my name,
which will call itself the Society of Mary
and whose members will call themselves Marists…
(Le Puy revelation)

The feast of the Holy Name of Mary, 12th September, is a special day for Marist Sisters. On this day the sisters recall they have been “called by a gracious choice…to bear the name of Mary”.  It is also the day the sister renew the commitment they made on their first profession day…

I renew my vows of chastity, poverty and obedience
in the Congregation of Mary
according to the Constitutions of this Congregation.

With Mary, our Mother, as guide,
I desire to remain faithful to my calling to follow Christ,
by living the Gospel as Mary did
in this Congregation which bears her name.

You are invited to join with the Sisters in honouring Mary on this day and giving thanks to God for Mary who is our Mother, our Model and our Guide.

Bearing the Name of Mary

Marist Sisters from the Merrylands, Marrickville and Marsfield communities in Sydney gathered on 11th September to anticipate the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. This feast, observed on 12th September each year, holds special significance for Marist Sisters as we recall the gift, and the responsibility, that is ours in being called to live the Gospel as Mary did and to bear her name.

Prayer and Beauty in the Philippines

On 26  July, Unit Leader Sr Jane Frances and members of the Marist Sisters community in Davao, the Philippines, Srs Edna, Sheila, Lilibeth and April and candidate Hai left early to go to the Benedictine Monastery just south of Digos, about an hours journey, for their annual retreat.

During the next 6 days they journeyed through the theme of the Love, Mercy and Compassion of our God.  They had a beautiful, spiritual time together reflecting, creating and praying during their ‘masked retreat’.

Following the retreat, during their journey home, they visited the most beautiful “Cactus Farm” –  and were amazed at the variety of cacti on display.

Aotearoa-New Zealand Celebrations

On June 17, the Unit of Aotearoa-New Zealand  gathered in the Mt Albert community chapel for a special Jubilee Mass celebrated by the local Parish priest, Fr Carlos. Celebrating their jubilees were Sr Shirley, 70 years, and Srs Patricia Sarju, Margaret Cross, and Marie Therese Ranum, 60 years.  Mass was followed by a very fine lunch.  Margaret was not able to take part in the celebration on the day but she was prayed for her!
The next day the sisters gathered again for “Matariki” – the time when we begin again, plant again, pray for our deceased members, forgive again and share a feast together.  This occasion is inspired by the Maori New Year which is indicated by the constellation called “Matariki” .  It also coincided   with Laudato Si and Goal 6 featuring “ecological spirituality”.

Sr Clare sm – Centenarian

Congratulations Clare.

Sr Clare Francis celebrated 100 years of life on 6th August. Her Marist Sisters gathered with her to celebrate this incredible milestone. Family came from as far away as New Zealand to celebrate with Clare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In proposing a toast to Clare, Sr Gail Reneker spoke of the various ministries Clare has been involved in during her long life, her outreach to so many people and her delight in truth, beauty and goodness.

 

 

Bon voyage Sr Kate

At the Marist Sisters General Chapter held earlier this year Australian Marist Sister Kate McPhee was elected to be a General Councillor for a period of seven year. Kate left Sydney for Rome on 6th August to take up her role as a member of the Congregation Leadership Team.

A number of sisters were at the airport to farewell Kate. While Kate will be missed in Australia, we wish her well in this important ministry for the Congregation.

 

Inaugural Patron’s Mass

Marist College, Mt Albert NZ, celebrated its inaugural Patron’s Mass at the end of term 2. The College Patrons are Colin, Chavoin, Champagnat and Chanel. During the Mass a board bearing the names of Marist Sisters who have been on staff at the College since 1928 was blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

In a letter to the College community the Principal wrote:

“This week we also celebrated our inaugural Patrons’ Mass. This was an opportunity to gather as a community to remember our founders and give thanks to the Marist Sisters who have dedicated their lives to God. The Sisters established Marist College in 1928 and since then have been pillars of strength in our school and the Mt Albert community.”

Image above – Marist Sisters who attended the Patron’s Mass
Image right – Two long long time staff members, Srs Patricia and Julianna.

Celebrating in Australia

Marist Sisters in Australia gathered on 23rd July to mark three significant events. Firstly they acknowledged the anniversary of the Promise of Fourviere on 23rd July 1816. On this day a group of seminarians pledged themselves to beginning a congregation in Mary’s name. Beginning the afternoon with prayer the sisters remembered the Fourviere event and reflected on the gift of the Marist Spirit that has been passed down for over 200 years.

Secondly, the gathering was an opportunity to welcome Sr Grace Ellul home to Australia after serving as Congregation Leader for 7 years, and to thank her for her commitment and service during those years.

At the Marist Sisters General Chapter held earlier this year, Sr Kate McPhee was elected as a General Councillor. Kate will soon be leaving for Rome. While she will be greatly missed in Australia, the sisters expressed their love and support for Kate as she takes up this new role which she has generously accepted as God’s call.

Sr Veronica Taylor sm

Sr Veronica Taylor sm was called to eternal life on Tuesday 12th July 2022.

Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord.
May perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.
Amen
.

We extend our prayerful sympathy to the Marist Sisters in Australia and to Sr Veronica’s family. The following words of remembrance were delivered by Sr Beverley Lewis at her funeral on 25th July.

Today, we come together to pray for and say our final farewell to Veronica Ruth Taylor. Born to Leo and Mary Taylor (known as Myra) on 4th November 1931, their second daughter. Two of her sisters Marie and Clare are deceased. Pauline is present with us today as are members of Pauline’s and Clare’s families. I know very little about her childhood. No doubt it was not easy as Leo died as a young man and left Myra to bring their four daughters up on her own. Veronica used to say her mother did simple fun things with the girls which kept them together as a family unit. I can remember her telling us that she and her sisters played amongst the coffins in the back room of their home. Myra had taken on the role of an undertaker to support the family due to Leo’s frequent illnesses and his early death.

Veronica joined the Marist Sisters and was professed on 8th February 1953. During, her religious life Veronica was called to many different ministries. She spent time teaching in Fiji and at Woolwich. Her superiors noticed her giftedness for study and asked her to attend Regina Mundi in Rome for three years. Soon after her return to Australia, Veronica was appointed Scholastic Mistress. Many of the Sisters present today would have done their Scholasticate under Veronica. She had the wonderful gift of bringing out the best in people. She gave the best foundations for research and study of the new horizons in theology and Scripture which the Vatican Council opened up for the Church. She showed how to study. We have many stories from those days.

Other groups benefitted from her scholarly expertise. She was called to assist in the formation of the seminarians at Toongabbie teaching them Church History, and was also involved with the formation of the laity at Aquinas Academy.

She was also appointed as the Pastoral Planning Co-ordinator. Remember the big green folders, we had. There was also the yellow folder on Leadership and Discernment. Veronica also headed the Justice Committee raising consciousness among the Sisters of the Justice issues confronting our country and other parts of the world. Her actions spoke louder than words in her outreach to those on the margins, such as the Aids suffers who were often isolated in their homes. She was humble in taking up her various responsibilities entrusted to her by the Congregation. She was gifted in many ways but did not flaunt it.

Many of us worked with Veronica on these committees. We certainly worked hard but not as hard as she did. Everything Veronica did was done to 100% capacity. But she certainly knew how to celebrate and relax. On one particular weekend we gathered as the Pastoral Planning Committee, we worked all weekend until late Sunday. She decided it was time to celebrate so the seven of us went out to a Chinese Restaurant, where we shared a Chinese Banquet, which was quite substantial. It came time for dessert but no one wanted any. Veronica wanted us to try the fried ice-cream so she ordered one scoop of ice-cream and seven teaspoons. She was very generous in giving to the Sisters.

In her later years, she undertook pastoral work in several parishes Torquay/Grovedale in Victoria, Richmond NSW, where she is still fondly remembered, and Marrickville NSW.  Veronica had a great love for learning and shared this gift with many people especially those undertaking the RCIA programme.

 

Veronica was a hard working, generous and kind person. If she was able to help she would not spare herself. You never wondered what Veronica thought or felt, she was always forth coming with her thoughts and feelings and always prepared to share her wisdom. Equally she always humbly accepted decisions made by the Congregation whether they were what she thought or not.  She was always appreciative of what was done for her and always saw the best in people.

In these recent years especially, since Covid hit us, she grew in patience. If things were meant to be they would happen. I believe this was a result of her deep life of prayer. Veronica had peaceful expectations but a humble acceptance of God’s will.

She had a great love of her family, friends and the Marist Family, especially her sisters. She often would say to me when I visited her I don’t see a lot the Sisters and my family but that is okay because I know I belong and they are with me in my heart. There is so much more that could be said but she knows our and appreciation for the gracious person she was and still is.

In conclusion I would like to say “Go forth valiant woman of faith, true daughter of Mary, to enjoy the company of your family, friends and your Marist Family especially the Sisters. Go to the place prepared for you by Your Beloved who loved you in life and embraces you for all eternity.