by Sr KATHLEEN RUCK,SMSM
For SMSM Sisters Maureen Connor and Frances Anna Remnant their Advent journey began with the invitation of Cardinal John Dew to establish once more a religious community in Kaikoura, one of seven communities in the Parish of Te Whetu O Te Moana — Star of the Sea Marlborough Catholic parish.
In their generous, faith-filled response, Srs Maureen and Frances Anna set out like Mary — in haste, openess, and awareness, to discover God being born, quietly unfolding his presence to them in this new moment through their commitment to the daily events, and in their relationships with the people of Kaikoura.
The sisters arrived in Kaikoura on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a significant day for the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary.
During Mass on the second Sunday of Advent, parish priest Fr John Pearce, CP, together with the congregation, warmly welcomed the sisters.
Before the final blessing, Fr Pearce read the letters of welcome from Cardinal Dew and the Passionist provincial Fr Tom McDoonugh. Over at the hall, a well prepared morning tea facilitated the meeting and greeting.
The following day, after being welcomed by St Joseph’s School principal Judith Ford and teachers, a powhiri was performed with great dignity by the pupils of the school who had been preparing for this for more than three weeks.
Sr Maureen is a teacher who has served in Samoa, the Chatham Islands, and the Solomon Islands and recently in Holy Cross parish, Papatoetoe, Auckland. Sr Frances Anna is a nurse who has served in Fiji, the Chathams, Jamaica, Tanzania and lately in Boston, USA. Both sisters bring years of experiences, of prayer and a wealth of knowledge in working with people in a whole range of pastoral situations.
The Kaikoura community of the Sacred Heart has a well-organised, committed pastoral team. It is very obvious that the Spirit is alive , as revealed in the resilence and the great desire the people have to work together as a community in the arduous process of building community and recovery after the trauma of the earthquake of November, 2016.
As Marists, Srs Maureen and Frances Anna are called to be Mary’s presence in her simple way of loving and serving.
They desire to accompany the people, to be on the service rosters, to collaborate in the parish family and the wider community with a gentle and prayful presence and listening hearts. Both sisters feel very blessed in having been called to this very beautiful town, to live in the comfortable parish house and are so grateful for the warm welcome they have received.