January news

Click here for News 2008 to 2017

This page:     Welcome, Fr Denis     |     Beware the bunyas !     |   The long and the short of it     |    Charism and Culture planning    |    Farewell, Brother Peter     |    Five new Marists     |     Fickle figures    |    Historic Pacific leaders' workshop    |    Passing of Br Peter Somers     |    Years of Grace    |    Unknown and scary     |    Fr Nicolas' visitors    |    SM Bulletins online    |    Fr John Pereira's 90th birthday    |    Members only   |    Chopper in the paddock   |   Marist community for Camino   |   Fr Paul Glynn back from Japan   |   Montbel brothers   |   'The Branch' from Africa   |    
  Welcome to a New Year of Grace 


Welcome, Fr Denis

Following the recent professions of five new Marists in Davao, Philippines, Vanuatu-born, Fr Denis Revi SM, arrived in Sydney on Jan 28. He will be taking a break from formation ministry during 2018, residing for several months with the Marist community of Villa Maria, Hunters Hill, while in Australia. (He has been warned about the bunya cones - see below).

Fr Denis was on the staff of the Marist Internatonal Novitiate in 2017, following ministry in Rome at 'Casa di Maria', the Marist International Theologate.          [Jan 29]

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Above: Fr Denis Revi arriving at Sydney airport....and Villa Maria monastery, Hunters Hill.    Below. Fr Denis at the recent professions in Davao (the tall guy in the back row.) 
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Beware the bunyas !

It's that time again: dropping-of-bunya-pine-cones season.  In the picturesque grounds of Villa Maria monastery, Hunters Hill, a majestic avenue of bunya pines becomes a danger scene as huge cones drop from its heights.

The pines, and their biennally falling cones, are perilously close to the Marist community clothes lines, presenting a hazard for local members tending their laundry.  The hefty cones can weigh between 5 and10 kg, and hence to be given wide berth when earth beckons. 

Whilst local bird life feast on the fallen cones and their succulent innards, recent research shows them for sale on the Internet of upwards of $30 per conk. Money for the missions?

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The long and the short of it 

The diminutive Mexican staff Sisters of the Marist General House, 'Monteverde', were part of the farewell from Rome given to Christchurch's Bishop-elect, Paul Martin SM, this week. Two Australians were also part of the farewell.

Former Bursar-General of the Society of Mary, Bishop-elect Paul is pictured below towering over the Sisters, and with community members and his finance office staff.            [Jan 20]

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Below: Bishop-elect Paul with Monteverde community members, Australians, Frs Ben McKenna and Tony Corcoran, Fr John Larsen (Superior-General), Fr Juan Carlos Piña (General Councillor) and Fr John Harhager (Vicar-General)     |     ....and with finance staff, Paolo Mancinelli and Aline Gamberale

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Charism and Culture planning

Principals of four Marist-founded secondary schools were part of the planning meeting of the Marist Charism and Culture committee on Jan 19. The schools are St John' College (Woodlawn), Lismore NSW, Marist Sisters' College, Woolwich, NSW, Holy Spirit College, Bellambi NSW, Cerdon College, Merrylands NSW and Marist Regional College, Burnie Tas.

The Hunters Hill meeting was chaired by coordinator, Glenn Roff, and focussed on planning for two, week-long staff inservices to be held in 2018, as well as youth leadership and Marist pilgrimage events.

The MCC group is committed to keeping alive and developing the Marist spirit in students and staff alike.                 [Jan 20]

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Farewell, Brother Peter

Family, friends and fellow Marists gathered at Holy Name of Mary church, Hunters Hill, on Jan 19 to farewell Br Peter Somers SM. Requiem Mass was followed by interment in the mission cemetery of Villa Maria. On the previous evening a Vigil had been celebrated in the chapel of Maryvale/Montbel, the community where Br Peter had lived in recent years..

Scenes from Br Peter's farewell...          [Jan 19]

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Above:  Vigil for Br Peter in Monbel chapel, Jan 18.   Br Peter's close friend and the province's oldest Marist, Br Colin Campbell SM, at the Vigil.
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Above: On Br Peter's casket lay his Marist profession cross   |    Mass of Christian Burial in Holy Name of Mary church   
Below: Grand nephews and nieces took part in Br Peter's funeral liturgy   |    Maryvale/Montbel community leader, Fr Paul Mahony, during the final commendation
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Above: Burial in the mission cemetery of Villa Maria. Br Peter, rest in peace here. 

Five new Marists

In a ceremony in Davao, Mindanao, southern Philippines on Jan 18, five young men made their religious profession in the Society of Mary. The event was witnessed by members of the Marist Fathers District of Asia, led by Fr Pat Devlin SM, and friends at the Marist International Novitiate chapel, 'Eden', on the outskirts of Davao City.

Congratulations to Carlos Olivares SM (Mexico), Timothy Hare SM (Solomon Is), Josefo Amuri SM(Fiji),Jaime Perez SM (Mexico) and Christian Ngoura SM (Cameroon) .-- and to the novitiate master, Fr Fernando Ingente, assisted by Fr Denis Revi and Br John Votaia.         Photos: Fr Arnold Garferio SM       [Jan 18]

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Above,from left: New Marists, Carlos OlivaresTimothy HareJosefo AmuriJaime Perez and Christian Ngoura
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Above, celebrating having 'SM' after their name: Josefo, Carlos, Timothy, Christian and Jaime

Fickle figures

For our number-loving web guests, visit statistics for 2017 reveal curious trends, up and down.

The webmaster's annual observations: click here.       For a closer look at 2016 & 2017: click here (or squint below)                [Jan 18]

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Historic Pacific leaders' workshop

For the first time in its 120-year history, the Oceania Marist Province has local superiors and its provincial leadership team who are all Pacific islanders. Since the establishment of the Oceania missions in 1836, there have always been expatriate missionaries in leadership positions.

From Rome, SM Bulletin reports on the recent workshop for leaders of local Marist communities:

Twenty-four local superiors from all the sectors of the Oceania Marist Province and the members of the new provincial administration assembled recently at Marist College, Pacific Regional Seminary, Suva, Fiji, for a six-day workshop on Leadership. The workshop was facilitated by Fr Kevin Duffy SM, and is in line with the calls from the 2017 General Chapter on Healthy Community Living, and Ongoing Formation.

“Good community requires the adequate training of local superiors…units shall provide training for local superiors as spiritual leaders of communities, focusing on the skills necessary to coordinate community activities and to animate community meetings.” (SD 35).  “Units shall continue to put in place ongoing training programs for those in leadership particularly local superiors…”(SD 86).

The workshop is also of historical significance since it is the first occasion whereby all the local superiors including the provincial administration team are local Pacific Islanders. 

[Jan 17]

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Passing of Br Peter Somers

After a short illness, Br Peter Somers SM (78) died peacefully at Sydney's Royal North Shore hospital on Jan 15.

Sydney-born Br Peter, (known as 'Br Matthew' in earlier years of his religious life) was professed at Glen Davis, NSW, on his 22nd birthday, Jan 01,1962 and soon began almost 40 years of missionary work in the Pacific in the Solomon Islands and Fiji before returning permanently to Australia in 2005 to live at 'Oceania House', Hunters Hill.

In early 2016 he joined the community of nearby Maryvale/Montbel  (see 'April News,2016') where he lived as a much-valued member of the community.

During his last days, Br Peter's family and fellow Marists kept bedside vigil, which included a visit from former Oceania provincial and confrère, Fr Ben McKenna. 

For a summary of his life: click here.  Mass of Christian Burial for Br Peter will be celebrated at Holy Name of Mary church, Hunters Hill, on Fri, Jan 19, at 1.30 pm, followed by internment in the Villa Maria cemetery.

Rest in peace, Br Peter.                   [Jan 15]

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Below: Br Peter arriving at Montbel.    |    Jan 01 celebrations for his 76th birthday. in 2016
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Years of Grace

Fifty years of Marist religious life were celebrated on Jan 11 by Sr Grace Ellul SM, Congregational Leader of the Marist Sisters, during a gathering in Senegal, Africa, of 'Sisters under 60'.

Sr Grace shares the golden anniversary with fellow-Australian Sisters, Maureen Crick and Carroll McDonald.  Congratulations, Sisters !          [Jan 13]

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Above: Other Australians present at the Senegal gathering and celebration included Srs.Judith LythallVivienne Goldstein and Kate McPhee, pictured at table with Sr Grace.
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Unknown and scary

On Jan 10,1836, Pope Gregory XVI entrusted the fledgling Marist society with a mission to a distant, largely unknown and somewhat scary south Pacific. At the same time he confirmed approval of the priests' branch of the Society of Mary.

Official documents soon followed and before long the Marists in France, under Jean-Claude Colin's leadership, were in top gear. First religious professions were held in September and the pioneer missionaries under way by Christmas.

Each year, on Jan 10, Marists throughout the world remember the approval given by good Pope Gregory and are encouraged to offer Mass for God's continued blessing on their little Society.         [Jan 10]

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Fr Nicolas' visitors

Resting in the peace of Villa Maria's historic mission cemetery, Hunters Hill, French Marist, Fr Joseph Nicolas SM, received surprise visitors recently.

From Québec, Canada, great-grand-niece, Virginie Zingraff, and companion, Hugo, called at Villa Maria on Jan 07 to pay their respects to their missionary uncle.

A native of France, after some years in the Oceania missions, Fr Joseph came to Sydney to hold the position of bursar of the province, and died in that office in 1946. Legend says that he was writing a cheque at the time!          [Jan 09]

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SM Bulletins online

The weekly bulletin from Rome will now be available on the 'Members' page of this web site.  This week's issue includes news of the appointment of Fr Pat Deviln as Fr Tony Corcoran's eventual successor as Secretary-General of the Society of Mary.

SM Bulletins are also accessible on the Marist International web site, also for Members only.          [Jan 06]

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Fr John Pereira's 90th birthday

Marists gathered in Davao City, southern Philippines, on Jan 04 to mark the 90th birthday of Samoan-born Marist, Fr John Pereira.  Australian Marists remember Fr John from his seminary formation days at St Peter Chanel's Scholasticate, Toongabbie, NSW, where he prepared for priestly ordination in Feb, 1966.

A member of the Province of Oceania, Fr. John has lived and ministered in the Philippines for most of his years as a priest, and in recent years has lived at the Dominican Sisters' community in Davao City..

Happy Birthday, Fr John !              [Jan 05]

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Above:  Marists of the Asia District gather in Davao City for Fr John Pereira's 90th birthday on Jan 04, from left, Frs Lauro Arcede, Christopher Ganzon, Lionel Mechavez, Roque Rebito and Pat Muckian.  Below: Flashback to Fr John 50th anniversary of ordination in 2016. 
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Members only

As the new platform for this web site is being developed, so is its 'Members only' page.  The menu tab, above, will take members to a log-in page. Once successfully logged in, a 'Members content' tab can be accessed from the menu. Iniially, content will include Provincial Circulars, Superior-General's reflections and letters and Statements & Decision of the 2017 General Chapter.

For members of the Province, new access information is available from the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and will also be published in the first Provincial Circular for 2018.  Happy logging-on, members!       [Jan 04]

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Chopper in the paddock

Hearts fluttered in and around Montbel Aged Care facility, Hunters Hill, on New Year's Day as a CareFlight helicopter descended suddenly.

Using St Joseph's 'College E' sports field, adjacent to Montbel, the chopper landed to unload an emergency medical team from its Westmead base who were whisked away by fast car to one of Sydney's north shore hospitals. An unusual afternoon distraction to the normally tranquil environment. 

An on-the-spot photographer captured the scene... (arrows show the Montbel site)          [Jan 02]

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Marist community for Camino

The latest issue of 'Euroinfo', Marist news from the European Province, features an item on the community being set up in Spain to cater for pilgrims on the 'Camino' walk to the shrine of St James in Compostela. (Download the latest 'Euroinfo' from here)            [Jan 02]

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Fr Paul Glynn back from Japan

Retreats, jubilee celebrations and lots of 'catch-ups' occupied Fr Paul Glynn during November-December.

Fr Paul's visit coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Tsurumai Day Nursery where his late brother, Fr Tony Glynn, had been a much-loved spiritual guide for hundreds of working mothers, despite opposition from Communist authorities.

Returning from Japan on Dec 29, Fr Paul expressed admiration for the many Catholics of Tomigaoka attending daily Mass despite sub-zero temperatures. 'These are the people', says Fr Paul,'who helped orphaned children after the 2011 Fukushima tsunami to carry on their education to tertiary levels. The first have recently graduated.'

Welcome home, Fr Paul.     [Jan 01]

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 Above: Golden jubilee celebrations of the Tsurumai Day Nursery.   Below: Visiting the cemetery of Gose.
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 Above: One of the several retreat days for Nara Catholics. See photos of deceased Marists on the wall.  Below: Image of Japanese Catholic hero, Takayama Ukon  |  Mass with Fr Paul Hata  |  Christmas party at Tomigaoka
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 Montbel brothers

Members of two Marist aged care facilities came together for an end-of-year celebration at Hunters Hill on Dec 29.

Marist Brothers from the Champagnat House community joined the Marist Fathers and Brothers of nearby Montbel. Other local communities of Brothers andf Fathers were also represented.

Montbel was named after a former residence of both the Brothers and the Fathers on Gladesville Rd, Hunters Hill. This, in turn, recalled the original Montbel, a Marist formation house near Toulon, France.     [Jan 01]

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 Above: Marist Brothers and Fathers fraternising on the verandah of Montbel.   Below:  Easterly aspect of Montbel.   |   The original Montbel, near Toulon, France.
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 'The Branch' from Africa

From St Peter Chanel's scholasticate, Yaoundé, Cameroon, comes 'Le Rameau' ('the branch'), the community newsletter with illustrated reports on Marist student life in Africa.

There is a mix of French and English articles in the 20-page newsletter, with two pages of photos. (Download from here ).      [Jan 01]

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 Welcome to a New Year of Grace !

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 From the liturgy of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, Jan 01:

God our Father, 
since you gave mankind a saviour through Blessed Mary, virgin and mother, 
grant that we may feel the power of her intercession, 
when she pleads for us with Jesus Christ, your Son, the author of life, 
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
  one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

[Jan 01] ...