The Marist Sisters, Marist Laity and Marist Fathers led the joyous celebration of the Feast of Santo Niño, the patron of the Davao City Main Jail Chapel . This is an annual religious and cultural festival. Devotion to the Santo Niño (Holy Child), an image of Jesus as a small boy typically dressed as a king, is a mainstay of Philippine Catholic life.
(Click on the images below to see the full-size photo)
It was with great delight that a number of Marist Sisters in Australia attended the blessing and opening of a new building at Cerdon College Merrylands recently. The building which comprises new classroom areas, Theatrette and Science laboratories, has been named Bon Repos, the name of the original ‘Mother House’ for the Marist Sisters in Belley, France. A plaque on an exterior wall of the building displays an etching of the Bon Repos site in France. Following the ritual of blessing guests were treated to a scrumptious morning tea prepared by the Hospitality students.
The day began with a prayer of farewell to our property at Woolwich. Woolwich was the foundation community in Australia when the Marist Sisters arrived in Sydney some 110 years ago. We had much to acknowledge and remember… including
- the support, service and friendship shown us by the Marist Fathers from the beginnings till now;
- the many thousands of teachers, students and their families of Marist Sisters College, Woolwich;
- those who had worked with us in caring for the property including the doctors, nurses, carers and cooks who have been so much part of Marian House since its beginning in 1979;
After singing the song “Holy Ground” those gathered were invited to a time of quiet reflection on the people, things, events and experiences which were part of our years at Woolwich.
At the conclusion of the prayer we adjourned to the dining room where we continued to share stories and memories over lunch.
At the conclusion of the meal, during a prayer, members of the former leadership team lit the Unit of Australia candle and passed the candle to the new leadership team of Sr Cath Lacey (Unit Leader) and her two assistants Julie Brand and Ruth Davis.
Students from Cerdon College Merrylands went to Fiji believing they were needed. They quickly learnt that it is in giving that we also receive. The students are very grateful to the Marist Sisters in Fiji for enabling them to have such wonderful experiences. They have come home richer people as a result of the time they spent there.
It was with a sense of deep gratitude to God and to Mary that the Marist Sisters celebrated the 20th anniversary of their presence in the Philppines. It was a special joy for the Sisters that Congregation Leader Sr Grace Ellul was present for this celebration. Members of the Marist Family and family and friends of the Sisters joined with them in celebrating a Mass of thanksgiving. All the Sisters who have been part of this journey were remembered, particularly Torika and Vero, the valiant pioneers. Let us pray for the Marist Sisters currently ministering in the Philippines as they imitate Mary by reaching out to those in need.
The Cerdon College Year 10 Justice and Peace unit of work this year involved students in reaching out to those less fortunate as well as learning from those working in the field of Social Justice. Keynote speaker on the day was Marist Sister Noelene Simmons who spoke of her work with ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans).
At lunch time students were able to purchase sausages cooked by Rotary with the funds raised being donated back to Rotary so as to purchase a Shelter Box, a resource to provide immediate relief for families affected by natural disasters and conflict. The Shelter Box ensures that a family of 10 can survive while more permanent infrastructure is organised.
The day concluded with a practical activity where all students were asked to assemble a solar light to assist students in developing countries complete their homework. This initiative is in an attempt to break the poverty cycle by ensuring children gain an education so as to achieve employment as adults. The solar light “kits” were purchased from Solar Buddy with the funds for this kindly donated by the Marist Sisters Australia.
On Sunday 24th September, Australian Marist Sisters Kate McPhee and Gail Reneker , joined the Parish Eucharistic celebration at St Margaret Mary’s Parish Merrylands where Mr Nathan Mulheron and Miss Stephanie Ackaoui with 8 Year 11 Students from Cerdon College received a special blessing. On the 9th October, these two teachers and 8 students will travel to Fiji for an immersion experience with the Marist Sisters in Nadelei and Mt St Mary’s Nadi. We wish all involved rich and joy filled experiences and many blessings.
Davao’s Balay Banaag Center is now in the care of the Marist Sisters. Balay Banaag offers residential care to girls who have been abused or at risk. Up until now it has been run by Talikala Inc. – a local NGO whose goal is to improve the quality of life of women prostitutes and survivors of prostitution. The Marist Sisters have worked with Talikala for years. So when it became difficult for Talikala to continue the management of Balay Banagg the director turned to the Sisters for help. With the enthusiastic support of the local Marist Fathers, the Marist Mission Centre, Marist Laity Australia and our Congregation, the handover took place on 31 May 2018.
Sr Monida Lum writes:
“On May 31, the Sisters of the Unit and the staff of Talikala Inc, were joined by members of the Marist family and family members of the resident girls for the handing over of the management of Balay Banaag.