It is Mary, the mother of Jesus, who inspires our way of being at the service of His mission.
"From Mary, mother and first disciple of Jesus, we learn to listen to His word and keep it, to live united with Him in our daily work and in times of sacrifice and difficulty, to love with sincerity and respect all those to whom He sends us." (Constitutions #52)
"In complete availability, we are ready to leave our own country, to set out or set out again towards other peoples and other cultures, knowing that the Spirit precedes us... We open ourselves to their way of life, ready to receive as well as to give, having no other aim than to seek humbly, with all, the coming of the Kingdom in its fullness." (SMSM Constitutions #16,17)
"Christ has gathered us together in one and the same family, under the name of Mary, to participate in His mission. Our common vocation is a new call to grow in love with the sisters He gives us. Rejoicing in the richness of internationality, lived since the time of our pioneer sisters, we find in Christ a communion transcending distances and diversity of origin and service..." (SMSM Constitutions #152)
Across the world, and especially in poorer countries, our sisters are involved in many different forms of education: teaching or administering schools, religious education in parishes, and other forms of educational outreach to the needs of particular communities.
1. Sister Malia Atonina, from Tonga, with a child in a Basic School in Jamaica.
2. Sister Anne Quinn, from Australia, with a Jamaican family at a school near Kingston. Sr Anne serves in the administration of several Catholic schools.
3. Sr Pesio Iosefo, from Samoa, with Catholic students at California State University in San Bernardino. Sr Pesio is a campus minister there.
4. Sr. Teretia Bunataake, from Kiribati, teaches at a Basic School near Kingston, Jamaica.
In some areas of the world where local church personnel are few, Marist Missionary Sisters minister at the diocesan or parish level to help develop the faith of the people and to promote local leadership within the Church.
At times we need to respond to very basic needs of people in a particular area: e.g. organizing a lunch program for seniors or children, visiting the sick in their homes, providing basic health care and health education.
1. Sister Telesia, from Tonga, brings Communion to a disabled woman near Kingston, Jamaica.
2. Sisters Monica (left), from Samoa, and Ilaisaane (3rd from left) from Tonga, minister to the mountain people in the Huarmaca region in northern Peru.
3. Sister Viviana (right), from Fiji, is in charge of the Infancia Misionera program for children in the diocese of Chulucanas, Peru.
4. Sister Mary Claire (center), from New Zealand, with some street vendors in Chulucanas.
5. Sister Michelle DeSilva (right), from Trinidad, working with a women's group in Nazareno in Cartagena, Colombia.
6. Sister Marisa, (left) from Italy, serves lunch to seniors at a center in El Pozon, Cartagena, Colombia.
7. Sister Ana Berru (3rd from left), from Peru, with the youth of the parish in El Pozon, Cartagena, Colombia.
8.Sisterr Carlota (right), from Peru, with a group of former prisoners, who have changed their way of life and now go back to help present prisoners in a drug rehabilitation program in Lima, Peru.
Work to Stop Human Trafficking
Across the United States, as well as in other countries, members of religious congregations of women have become more aware of the growing crime of human trafficking and are actively working to oppose it and to give assistance to victims.
In 2005 the Marist Missionary Sisters opened a shelter in southern California that would give a temporary home to women victims of trafficking, helping them to regain their human dignity and acquire skills needed for a better future. It's a small, but significant project, with two Sisters on the staff and usually four or five women, coming from several different countries
To make a donation to "Mary's Guest House", please visit the DONATE page on the menu.
In the San Francisco area, Sister M. John Paul Chao, works with a Coalition of Sisters to "Stop Slavery". She has been invited to speak at different events throughout the country. An important project of this group has been to make hotel staff more aware of this problem and ready to report it to authorities.
1. Sr Mary Jane Kenney (2nd from left) at an information booth with anti-slavery literature in San Bernardino.
2. "Mary's Guest House" logo.
3. Sister Judith Sheridan (3rd from left) and Sister Joan Bernich (right) were among those who received the "La Mancha " Humanitarian Award in 2014 in San Diego for our work at "Mary's Guest House".
4. Sister M. John Paul Chao speaking at an Anti-Slavery gathering.
5. Sisters Lorreta Raass and Mary Anne Faucher at a Human Trafficking Awareness demonstration in the Boston area.
Partners in Mission
Generous "partners in mission" near and far have helped us to serve in some of the poorest areas of the world, and to respond to some of the greatest needs at a grassroots level.
Here are some examples of what your donations have provided (see photos)
1. Support for "Mary's Guest House" a shelter for women who have been victims of trafficking in southern California. The photo show Sr Christina Maclean, who founded this home in 2005, with two generous supporters of the project.
2. Scholarships for needy students at the Buhangija Secondary School in Tanzania. Many of the students are orphans whose parents have died of AIDS. With your help our sisters have been able to accept more girls at the school, and also provided better boarding accommodation.
If you wish to make a donation to either of these projects, please click on the "Donate" page on the Menu above.
Buhangija School, Tanzania
The Marist Missionary sisters opened a new community of 4 Sisters in Tanzania in 2007 in the diocese of Shinyanga. Several Sisters immediately began teaching at the Buhangija Secondary School a Catholic diocesan school. Sr Makelita Meni, from Samoa, has served as Principal since 2009.
Shinyanga is a poor rural area where people place a high value on education, but struggle to pay for school fees and all the other basics, including food and transportation. These farming families have suffered a lot from drought in recent years. About 40 of the 400 students are orphans who are very much in need of help to complete their education.
The school has made a lot of progress due to the dedication of the Sisters and lay teachers, the hard work of the students and the generosity of benefactors like you. The standard of education has risen dramatically, and physical improvements have been made to the school – especially the construction of new dormitories, so that more boarders could be accepted. Daily travel to school is not possible for many who live at a distance. In 2007 there were just 50 boarding students, all girls. Today, there are 200 girls boarding and 50 boys.
1.Sister Makelita Meni, Principal, with a graduating scholarship student.
2. Students taking exams.
3. Sisters and students before the blessing of the ground for new dormitory construction
4. Sister Ludeline Paterno with students on graduation day.
To make a donation to this school, please visit the DONATE page on the menu.
We Marist Missionary Sisters are one group within a larger Marist Family.
The Society of Mary (SM)
The Marists began in Lyons, France, when, on July 23rd 1816, a small group of newly-ordained priests and seminarians gathered in the chapel of Our Lady of Fourviere and promised to begin a new order in the Church.
One of them, Father Jean-Claude Colin, a diocesan priest sent to a small country parish in Cerdon, was determined to see this dream become a reality. He quietly worked on a vision and a Rule for this new congregation. By 1824, he obtained permission from the local Bishop for the small band of Marist priests to go about preaching in the isolated villages in the mountains. He became the first superior of the Marist Fathers and the founder of the Society of Mary, which includes both priests and brothers (SM). The Society gained Vatican approval in 1836. The Pope asked them to send missionaries to the Pacific Islands, and on Christmas Eve of the same year, the first band of Marist Missionaries set sail for the Pacific.
The Marist Laity Father Colin’s vision of the Society of Mary, was “a tree with several branches” – including priests, brothers, sisters and lay people. The Marist Laity, in the form of the Third Order of Mary, was the second branch to be approved by Rome in 1850. Today there are a variety of groups and individuals who are considered “Marist Laity”. Their common aim is to live in this world “in the spirit of Mary”
The Marist Brothers (FMS) Another member of the first group of Marists was Father (now Saint) Marcellin Champagnat. He saw the appalling state of the children in post-Revolutionary France, and founded the Marist Brothers of the Schools (FMS), which received Vatican approval in 1863. These Marist Brothers have become the largest branch of the Marist Family and their work of education continues in many countries of the world.
The Marist Sisters (SM) A group of women, led by Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, were attracted to the Marist way of life even during the early years of the formation of the Marist Fathers and Brothers. Sister Jeanne-Marie and Father Colin are considered co-founders of the Marist Sisters, whose rule was approved by Rome in 1884. Beginning in France, the Marist Sisters, too, are involved in different types of ministries and are present in many different countries.
The Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary (SMSM) We, Marist Missionary Sisters, have an unusual and complicated history. We can claim no founder, but we are “heirs of our pioneer sisters.” The first of these women, Marie Francoise Perroton, set sail from France in 1845 in response to an appeal from the women of the island of Wallis to “send us some pious women (some sisters) to teach the women of Uvea.” After 12 years, with the help and encouragement of Father Favre SM, the successor of Fr. Colin as superior General, other French women began to follow, until by 1860 eleven Sisters had departed for Oceania. During those years several Pacific Island women joined the Sisters. At first our sisters followed the Rule of the Third Order of Mary and took a vow of obedience to the bishop of the area in which they served. Only gradually did we become organized into one congregation named the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary, approved by Rome in 1931. After that we became open to worldwide mission and began serving in other parts of the world from Africa to Latin America, to Asia – to any place in which there is a need for missionary service.
1) A Marist Family Team gathers in Rome to plan our participation in the 2016 World Youth Day.
2) The Marist Fathers and Brothers (SM) now have their international novitiate for English-speakers in Davao, the Philippines.
3) Marist Laity: A gathering of Marist laity with our Sisters in San Bernardino, California.
4) The Marist Brothers of the Schools (FMS) are the largest group of the Marist Family today, with communities and schools in many countries.
5) Two young Marist Sisters with portraits of their Founder and Foundress.
6) Some of the "younger generation" of the Marist Missionary Sisters gathered with our General Council in December 2014 in the Philippines to look at hopes and plans for the future.
Becoming a Sister
The Attraction… …to living a life completely consecrated to God and sharing in the mission of Christ may come suddenly, or gradually over a period of years. There is usually a time of getting to know different religious communities, trying to see where the Spirit is calling…Prayer, a growth in self-knowledge, and getting to know members of different religious congregations are ways of moving forward towards a decision. (Photo: praying in a chapel in New Zealand)
1. Accompaniment: For one who is seriously considering becoming a Marist Missionary Sister, there is a time of personal accompaniment with a Sister who is appointed by the congregation for this work of helping women to discern whether this is the way of life that she is being called to by God. (Photo: Sr Annemarie Woeste, right, accompanies young women who are discerning their vocation in Tanzania)
2. Postulancy: When a person applies and is accepted to enter the congregation, she enters the postulancy. This is a period – between one and two years - where she begins to live in a community and is preparing to enter the novitiate. It takes place in the person’s own country where possible,but otherwise in another country where SMSM are present. There is a program of study, prayer, growth in self-knowledge and a gradual preparation for living the SMSM way of life. (Photo: Sr Malia, left, was a postulant in Tonga when she came to the World Youth Day in Brazil and met other SMSM there)
3. Novitiate: “Life in the congregation begins with the novitiate, the intensive period of the formation process in which the novice allows herself to be wholly possessed and transformed by Christ who calls her to participate in His mission. As she comes to understand and love this way of life - consecrated to God as missionary, Marist, religious - endeavoring to make it her own- she discovers its beauty and its demands.” (SMSM Constitutions, 225) Today, we have two international novitiates: one, conducted in English is in New Zealand, and the other, using the French language, is located in Senegal. (Photo: novices in New Zealand)
4. Profession and being sent on Mission. At the completion of the two-year novitiate a Sister may be called to make her first vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, to be lived “according to the Constitutions of the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary” for two years. These “temporary vows” may be renewed for six years before she is called to make perpetual vows. During these years she will continue to learn to live this life through further studies and participation in the mission of the congregation. (Photos: In Montego Bay, Jamaica: Sr Rachel Timme from the Solomon Islands, renewing her vows; Sr Esther N'Sanda, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, making her perpetual vows.)
5.Ongoing Formation continues throughout a lifetime through prayer, study, discussion, and reflection on our life experiences, in order to be faithful to God’s call and better able to serve God's people. (Photo: Sisters Mary Michaeline and Catia Conterno at an Assembly in Waltham, Massachusetts)
"As the sap nourishes the plant and makes it bear fruit, so prayer nourishes our lives consecrated for mission making them fruitful...." (SMSM Constitutions #119)
Prayer for our “Partners in Mission” Marist Missionary Sisters throughout the world pray daily for those who help and support us in our mission and for the many people who have made us aware of their needs, both spiritual and material.
If you have a special intention that you would like us to remember in prayer, please write to us through the Contact page on this website. A list of these intentions is placed at the door of the chapel of our senior residence in Waltham, Massachusetts, as a reminder to each sister entering the chapel to pray for your needs.
The League of Prayer For many years we have maintained a League of Prayer. Each year, 36 Masses are offered in the chapel of our Senior Sisters’ Residence in Waltham Massachusetts for the members of this League, both living and deceased. If you would like to inscribe someone, living or deceased, in this League of Prayer, please contact our Office (see Contact Page). There are Mass Cards available for families of those recently deceased, or for other occasions.