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.

General Chapter 2022

Marist Sisters in Australia gathered recently to receive feedback from the Marist Sisters’ General Chapter 2022.

Chapter delegates – Srs Gail Reneker, Kate McPhee and Noelene Simmons – shared their reflections and presented the message of the Chapter to those who were present.

Sr Judith Lythall, who had attended the Chapter as a support worker, presented a pictorial overview of the Chapter.

 

Meeting with Ambassador

While in Rome to attend the Marist Sisters’ General Chapter Sr Noelene Simmons, a member of ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans), took the opportunity to meet with Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Chiara Porro.

Ambassador Porro was interested to learn more about the work of ACRATH. During the meeting topics such as Australia’s Modern Slavery Act, the PALM Scheme (Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme), the need for a National Compensation Scheme, the 2022 Chocolate Scorecard and ACRATH’s international reach through organisations such as Talitha Kum were discussed.

Synodality – Participation, Communion, Mission

On Saturday 26th March the Marist Sisters of Raiwaqa, Lami and one sister from Levuka met together in Lami for the process of Synodality. The process was facilitated by a trained couple from the Raiwaqa Parish, Ben and Maria Lee.

To begin the facilitator explained  the image of the Holy Spirit hovering over the people of God in the Synod2021-2023 logo. The importance of discerning the work of the Holy Spirit in this process was emphasized.

The sisters worked through the topics at a leisurely pace with each sister responding to the questions “What are you hearing?” and “What is your response?”.

Remaining focused throughout the session the sharing of the sisters was positive, enlightening, faith-filled, and gratuitous. The summary of responses will be written up by the facilitators and sent to the Archdiocesan Office.

Unit Gathering in Sydney

On Saturday 4th March, Marist Sisters from the Unit of Australia came together to deepen their commitment to the safe-guarding of children and vulnerable adults. Led by Sr Ruth Davis, the sisters reviewed the Marist Sisters’ Policy and Guidelines for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults. There was an opportunity for sisters to discuss the various aspects of the policy and to understand their responsibility in this regards. The sisters affirmed their commitment to live with care and compassion for all and to foster a culture of safety and care for all persons by signing a Code of Professional Conduct.

While gathered the sisters took the opportunity to pray a prayer of blessing for the sisters who will be attending the 30th General Chapter of the Marist Sisters in Rome in April 2022.

 

News from Aotearoa-New Zealand

After many months of lockdown Marist Sisters in the Auckland area were recently able to gather at their Tindalls Bay beach house. This was an opportunity to enjoy each others company and to appreciate the beach scenery.

Present at the gathering was the most senior member of the Marist Sisters in New Zealand, Sr Patricia Bowley, and the youngest member, St Tulua ‘Otuafi.

For sisters in Aged Care facilities, there are still a restrictions on visiting. As a result the celebration of the 60th Anniversay of Profession for Sr Margaret Cross was a very quiet celebration. Srs Jane and Lorraine visited Margaret and reminisced with her about her years in Religious Life.

75 Years of Marist Profession

On 5th February Sr Clare Francis will celebrate the 75th anniversary of her profession as a Marist Sister. Clare you are a living example of commitment and fidelity that inspires us in our Marist journey.

We rejoice with Clare and give thanks for her many years of Marist service in Australia and New Zealand. We ask God’s continued blessings for Clare in this her jubilee year.

New Leadership in Fiji

Marist Sisters in Fiji gathered recently to ritualise the change of leadership in Fiji. On 8th December, during a Mass at the end of their annual retreat, Sr Lavinia Henry passed the symbol of leadership to Sr Mariana Tevurega.

The sisters prayed in gratitude for Sr Lavinia’s service and asked blessings on Sr Mariana as she begins her three year mandate as leader. Sr Mariana will be assisted by Srs Lora Adikakai and Raitiera Teiti.

New Leadership Team in Australia

Marist Sisters in Australia gathered at Hunters Hill on 4th December to ritualise the change of Leadership that will take place on 8th December. Sr Gail Reneker will take up the role of Unit Leader of Australia with Srs Julie Brand and Beverley Lewis as her Assistants. The gathering was also an opportunity to give thanks to Sr Catherine Lacey who has been Unit Leader for the past seven years and to Sr Ruth Davis for her role as Unit Assistant for the last three years.

During a simple and prayerful liturgy, recognising that leadership is a call to love and service, the outgoing leadership team washed the hands of the new team. Cath then handed the Unit Candle to Gail as the sisters present extended their hands and prayed a prayer of blessing over Gail, Julie and Bev. At the conclusion of the prayer Julie, on behalf of the sisters of the Unit expressed gratitude to Cath and Ruth for their years of faithful service.

Afternoon tea followed the time of prayer. Due to Covid-19 restrictions this was the first time the sisters had been able to gather sine July 2020. Just being together was a joy and blessing for all present.