“All to God’s greater glory and to the honour of Mary, the Mother of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
(Fourviere Pledge, 23rd July 1816)
Each year Marists throughout the world recall the day in July 1816 when twelve seminarians climbed the stairs in Lyons to the chapel of Our Lady of Fourviere to commit themselves to beginning a congregation in Mary’s name, a Congregation whose sole motive would be to work “for God’s greater glory” by following the example of Mary. Marists gather on this day to celebrate and recall the courage and commitment of the founding Marists who believed that just as Mary was present in the early Church she is present with us today, guiding and supporting us. This day is also an opportunity for Marists to renew their commitment to be Mary’s presence in the world today attentive to the needs of those who are in need of God’s compassionate love.
In Australia the day was marked by a celebration of the Eucharist at Hunters Hill. Marists from all branches – Laity, Sisters, Brothers, Missionary Sisters and Priests – participated in the celebration during which all prayed anew the Pledge of Fourviere.
The Leaders of the four Marist Sisters Units in the Asia-Pacific Region met recently in Davao, The Philippines. Srs Catherine (Australia), Jane Frances (Aotearoa-New Zealand), Lavinia (Fiji) and Sheila (the Philippines) spent a week together focusing on issues such as Marist Life and mission, formation at all stages of life, sharing of resources, developing leadership skills and mutual support for those in leadership. While in Davao the sisters also visited Balay Banaag (a hostel administered by the Marist Sisters) and participated in a Sunday Eucharist at the local jail where members of the Marist family, including our Sisters, minister.
Marist Sisters observe the feastday of their Foundress, Jeanne Marie Chavoin, on the anniversary of her death – 30th June. Born in the French village of Coutouvre in 1786 she lived through the French Revolution. At the age of thirty-one she “left home and family to start the Society of the Blessed Virgin.” As a Marist Sister her life was one of prayer and service. Like Mary, she was attentive to the needs of those around her and she encouraged her sisters to do the same. An early historian of the Marist Sisters, Sr Elizabeth Boyer wrote: “They were seen only in church and in the homes of the poor and sick.”
Inspired by Jeanne-Marie’s deep and abiding faith
and her firm trust in God
we pray that we will be women of prayer
and learn from her
to live Mary’s loving concern for
and service of those in need.
On Pentecost Sunday Marist Sisters in Australia gathered in the Holy Name of Mary church, Hunters Hill to celebrate 300 years of Marist life. Fr Tony Corcoran sm, Provincial of the Marist Fathers, presided over the Eucharist. Joining with the sisters were family and friends of our jubilarians. After Mass we adjourned to the Marist Fathers dining room for afternoon where we continued to give thanks for the faithfilled lives of our Golden Jubilarians (50 years), Srs Beverley and Gail, our Diamond Jubilarian, Sr Marie Berise (60 years) and our Platinum Jubilarians Srs Margaret and Philomena (70 years).Unfortunately Sr Philomena was unable to join us but we remembered her as we celebrated. Represented within the group of Jubilarians were two former Congregation Leaders, Srs Margaret Purcell and Gail Reneker. The following tributes were delivered during the afternoon tea.
About fifteen Marist Sisters attended a memorial Mass in St Mary’s Church Nadi, Fiji, to remember Sr Mary Christopher on the first anniversary of her death. The paraliturgy by the tombstone was simple and meaningful. The sisters shared briefly on their memories of Mary Chris. This was followed by the blessing of the headstone by Father John Crispin sm.
We then visited the graves of all our sisters buried in Balawa, Lautoka and a placed a bouquet of flowers on their tombs. Some of the sisters included Sisters Wilfred, Regina, John Gualbert, Blaise, Sulita, Helen, Rita, Anita, Anne Marie, Amadeus, Alexis and Nolasco. On returning home to Nadi, there was a small kava ceremony to thank Father Crispin. This was followed by a delicious meal prepared by parish sector members.
Marist Sisters in Aotearoa-New Zealand held their annual assembly from the 25th to the 28th of April. This involved a contemplative dialogue on their present reality and consideration of needs at this time. The last day of the assembly was dedicated to celebrating Sr. Kathleen Bright’s 60th anniversary of Marist religious profession. Bishop Denis Brown was the main celebrant for the thanksgiving mass and many of the Sisters were present. Kathleen’s sister and brother in law joined in the celebration plus Brother Mark fms and his guide dog Rosco.
Two of Year 7 students from Marist Sisters College, Mt Albert came to visit the sisters at the Mt Albert Convent in New Zealand. One of the students had her RE Assessment with her and Sr. Patricia Bowley showed great interest in it.
The student was very surprised when she discovered that Patricia was 91. The two girls are daughters of ex-students taught by some of the sisters at Marist College in years gone by.
Each year for the nine days leading up to the feast of St Peter Chanel, Marists throughout the world pray through the intercession of St Peter Chanel for vocations to the Marist Family.
St Peter Chanel, a Marist Father, was in the first group of Marist missionaries to Oceania. Peter arrived in futuna in November 1937. During his lifetime Peter saw little success in his work. During his first six month on Futuna he baptised only one Futunian – a dying child. Early in the morning of April 28, 1841, Fr. Peter was wakened from sleep and clubbed to death, his skull split by the axe of a Futunian warrior. He was thirty-eight years old. He was the first martyr of Oceania and the first Marist to be canonised.
You are invited to join us in praying that young people of today may, like Peter Chanel, respond generously to God’s call to follow Christ as Mary did. Download the novena prayer here.