Congregation Leader in Australia

Congregation Leader of the Marist Sisters, Sr Grace Ellul, has just completed her visitation to Australia. During her visit Grace spent time with each sister and engaged in conversation and reflection about the whole Congregation. The Marist Sisters in Australia were delighted to have Grace in their midst over these days. At the end of her visit sisters who were able gathered at Hunter Hill. This was an opportunity to thank Grace for her visit and to celebrate her birthday a few days in advance of the event.

(Click on images below to see an enlarged version of the photo)

 

Marists at Vocation Expo

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.

Fiji Welcome

Marist Sisters in Fiji were delighted to welcome Sr April Acero recently. April is from the Philippines. While in Fiji April is delighted to be meeting with Marist Sisters who have ministered in the Philippines in recent years.

Chavoin House Mass at Marist College

Empowerment through Presence was the theme of the recent Chavoin House Mass at Marist College Mt Albert, New Zealand. Sr Seini Fatai presented the following reflection during the Mass:

Empowerment through Presence
Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, Foundress of the Marist Sisters

Life is full of mysteries and we often wonder how we may ever solve some of them. I am sure that you young women of our Marist School often wonder what your future might be. Whether you are going to fulfil your dream to become a doctor or marry a handsome and successful guy or whether you are going to be a caring mother of some beautiful children, or better still perhaps a Marist Sister.

Some of the mysteries of my life began to unfold when I was as young person like you. Growing up, I really looked up to my dad because he had a way of empowering me to be the best person I could be. My dad was my greatest role model for he helped me unfold some of the mysteries in my life.

As a young person Jeanne-Marie Chavoin too was influenced by her father as she was discerning God’s will in her life. But life was a big mystery for her too, as she did not know what God wanted her to do but she waited, listened in prayers and answered His call and that is how we have our congregation of the Marist Sisters.

Chavoin’s life showed a great sense of balance. What do I mean by that? That means that she lived her life knowing that prayer and service must go hand in hand. She believed that God’s Loving Presence in the Eucharist gave meaning and spiritual power to her work. Chavoin believed that her prayer life provided her with purpose and meaning for doing her work well.

Father Colin, the founder of the Marist Family, affirms this, saying “In all the three branches of the Society (Marist Fathers, Marist Brothers and the Marist Sisters), Chavoin is the person with the greatest spirit of prayer. I believe that Fr Colin would have agreed with me that Jeanne-Marie Chavoin is a woman of balance and one who empowered people with whom she came in contact.

In our Gospel today, we see that Mary, the mother of Jesus empowered people through her attentive and loving presence at the Wedding feast in a place called Cana in Galilee. Mary noticed that the wine for the party was nearly finished so to avoid embarrassment for the host family she took the matter to Jesus. Because Mary was attentive to her Son, a positive result came about. People had lots of wine to drink. Jeanne-Marie Chavoin did learn from Mary how to be a woman of empowerment through her presence in every situation.

One of the things that we could all learn from Jeanne-Marie Chavoin is to be people (men and women) of prayer an action here in our Marist College community. If she were here today, she would remind us all, that God is the source of strength and power, and our work and learning here in this school can only find meaning in God through prayer. So, how often do you spend time talking and listening to God? As we leave today from this Eucharistic celebration, let us remind ourselves that God is always wanting to have a chat with us. Are we ready?

 

Drinking from the Wellspring of Life

A group of twenty five Marist Sisters from around the world have gathered in Auckland, New Zealand, for a time of renewal the theme of which is Drinking from the Wellsprings of Life. During the first week participants have appreciated being together and the contemplative atmosphere that has permeated each days activities. There has been time for input, for reflecting, for sharing and for experiencing the beauty of the world around us. The Fijian Community in Auckland paid a visit to the group one evening which was a rich cultural experience for all.

A Foundress is Born

Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, Foundress of the Marist Sisters, was born on 29th August 1786 in the French village of Coutouvre. Her father, Théodore Chavoin, was a tailor, while her mother, Jeanne Verchère,  worked as a servant.

Jeanne-Marie Chavoin spent 30 years of her life in the village of Coutouvre. From the front door of her family home she could see the village square and the church just beyond. Jeanne-Marie’s life in Coutouvre was people-oriented. From the Chavoin home her father ran a tailor’s shop. Customers came daily, exchanging the latest news, sharing the joys and concerns of the village.

God of creation,
we praise and thank you for the birth of Jeanne-Marie Chavoin,
our foundress, Mother St Joseph.
We thank you for her parents, Théodore and Jeanne,
for their love, their courage, their acceptance of responsibility and all they taught Jeanne-Marie.
May our foundress intercede for us today,
that we may present a Marian face in our world –
a face of compassion, understanding and love,
a face which accepts people as they are,
yet encourages them to grow in goodness.
With them, may we be brought forth to the life of grace.
We pray this in the name of Jesus your Son.

Marist College Celebrates Feast of the Assumption

Marist College, Mt Albert Auckland celebrated the Feast of the Assumption on the 15th of August. Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Patrick Dunn was the main celebrant in the School Feast Day Mass. Father Kevin Murphy sm, the school chaplain and the parish priest Fr Philip Lakra ofmcap concelebrated this beautiful Eucharist. The focus of the Mass was “Empowerment” for it is the core value of Marist College for the year.

In the Mass, the school community was reminded that we look to Mary as the role model, a courageous and faith-filled woman, who in her own simplicity pointed the way to Jesus. Mary is the figure of empowerment for us as she showed us what it means to empower others. She empowered Elizabeth when she stayed with her for about three months. At the Wedding Feast of Cana she empowered her son Jesus to change the water into wine. Mary taught us to be other centred and enrich the lives of those around us through our words and deeds.

The highlight of the Mass was the conferring of the Sacraments of Initiation for 17 young women. Before the final blessing, Bishop Pat blessed the Chavoin Honour Board which shows the list of students who have won the “Chavoin Award” since 1968. Our Sister Lorraine Campbell was the recipient in 1969 and she was one of the ex-students who unveiled this special board.

Bennetswood Celebration

Srs Cath Lacey and Kate McPhee recently represented the Marist Sisters in Australia at the 60th anniversary of St Scholastica’s Primary School, Bennetswood on 11 th August. The Archbishop of Melbourne (Archbishop Peter Commensoli) was the main celebrant of the Mass which was followed by lunch and an inspection of the school which has been refurbished in the last few years. There was a great crowd of parishioners, both past and present, and a number of ex-students who were interested to hear about the Sisters who had been at St Scholastica’s over the years. Cath and Kate were presented with a commemorative candle and a plaque which acknowledges the work of the Marist Sisters at the school over 20 years.

Celebrating Marist Jubilees

What a wonderful celebration it was when Marist Sisters in Fiji, family and friends gathered to celebrate the Golden and Diamond Jubilees of Marist Profession for Srs Veronica Lum and Torika Wong. Archbishop Peter Chong Loy was Chief celebrant at the Mass and he reminisced on his school days at St John’s College when Vero was his Chemistry teacher. Many of Vero’s classmates of Loreto were present and lots of Sr Torika’s relatives. The family sang a beautiful hymn after communion. About two hundred guests packed the parish hall. The food was delicious. We praise and thank God for our two sisters and their dedicated service to the church in Fiji and the Philippines.

 

Sr Isabelle Harding sm

Sr Isabelle Harding sm sm was called to eternal life on Sunday 11th August 2019.

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 Aotearoa-New Zealand and to Sr Isabelle’s family. the following eulogy was delivered at her funeral held at St Mary’s Parish, Mt Albert on 14th August 2019.

With the death of Barbara Jean Harding, Sister Isabelle, it is the end of an era, several in fact.
Firstly for her family as Isabelle is the last of the thirteen children of Isabella and George Harding to die, and so the last of her generation of the family. She has been the Matriarch for some years and the keeper of the family history all her life.
It is also the end of the era of the Marist Sisters having an important part to play in Waitaruke and especially at the school there, Hato Hohepa for 90 years. Sister Isabelle was the last Sister on the staff and was later for a number of  years the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees.
Again, Sister Isabelle was the last of the young Marist Sisters who in the 50’s and 60’s left Australia and New Zealand soon after their Profession to go to the Missions in Fiji. Earlier others had also gone to Tonga but had been evacuated during WW2. Isabelle went to Fiji in 1960 and taught at the Goldmines school in Vatukoula and also at schools in Lami, Solevu and Varoka, Ba,and Nadi, all on the main Island of Viti Levu, and later on the outer Islands of Ovalau and Yasawa.   Isabelle is the last of the valiant and wonderful women we all knew there, Josephine, Regina, Anita, Sabina, Miriam and many others. Of course there were also French and Irish Sisters and others like Alexius and Nolasco who were born in Fiji but were part of that generation also. Today all the Marist Sisters in Fiji are  born and bred in that country, are living in different parts of  Fiji serving the needs of their people in new ministries as well as in schools.
In 1982 Isabelle came back to New Zealand for good, and after a few years teaching at Mt Albert, Orakei and Putaruru, she went to the North where she remained for the next almost thirty years. She taught at Hato Hohepa until she was given the Diocesan Ministry of Religious Education Adviser, Northland.  She held this position for eight years, and if you were around in Kerikeri where she lived at that time, you would have seen her in her little car which held a TV monitor, stacks of religious videos, and piles of books and papers heading out the gate to go North South East and West to visit schools, parishes, families and individuals, to prepare them for the Sacraments and nourish their Faith.
In 2003 she was back in Waitaruke, involved in the school and Parish, and in particular facilitating and tutoring those who wished to follow the three year programme of ,’Walk By Faith’ and many men and women in the North have done all or part of that course with her.
In 2014, as the buildings in Waitaruke were needed for a new venture, and Sister Margarita her companion, was now in Kauri Rest Home in Kaeo, Isabelle moved with Sister Catherine to join Sister Kathleen in Kaikohe where she continued the Walk By Faith Programme right up to the Graduation of the last group of participants earlier this year.
Sister Isabelle had many loves in her life. First of course, was the Lord and his mother Mary. She loved prayer and to meditate on the Scripture Readings of the day, both in English and Maori. She loved all things Maori, art, culture, marae stays, and especially Te Reo which she studied at Massey University and Wananga Aotearoa for many years.She loved her family deeply and the Marist Sisters and wider Marist family. She loved Waitaruke and especially the school where she taught the children, another of her loves, gardening. They grew vegetables, harvested them and proudly took them home to their families. She had a particular love for Waimahana and our little bach there and to swim in the beautiful bay.
Sister Isabelle was a wonderful woman to whom God had given many gifts and talents. As an artist and a poet she loved to share with Brother Romuald FMS, in Kaikohe, himself an artist and poet. She published two books about the Hokianga and her family which included many photos, another hobby, and poems.    As she aged she began to lose her eyesight from Aged Macular Degeneration.  She took advantage of the experience of blindness of Brother Mark Chamberlain FMS to learn ways of coping with this disability. She was also attracted by his guide-dog for she loved all animals, horses, cows, dogs and especially one special cat named, Psycho, who was in Waitaruke and Kaikohe, and is now buried in a grove of trees just inside the gates of Waitaruke.
Sister Isabelle’s Fijian friends would say, “Moce, Sister, and loloma levu.
We say, ‘ Go in peace, Isabelle, enjoy eternal life with all you love.
Haere ra, Isabelle, Barbara Jean Harding, you good and faithful daughter of Mary.