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In the beginning, stronger than anything else, they heard the call from God for mission expressed through the appeals from Oceania. (Prologue Constitutions)

Sisters stories

SMSM SistersIt is in joy and thanksgiving that I will share with you my beautiful missionary experience of these 50 years of religious, Marist and missionary life.  After a two-month missionary experience as a novice in Algeria, I had already immersed myself in another continent and a new culture.  It was short, but this first experience always made me love Algeria so beautiful and so endearing. To live the gospel in Algeria, without ever announcing it, as our sisters and all the religious present have shown so well. They live simply out of friendship.

In 1970,  I received my first mission appointment to the antipodes, to the New Hebrides, now Vanuatu since its Independence in 1980. I've worked mostly in schools.There I discovered these beautiful islands, the beauty of the colors of the bush and the sea, smiling faces, unknown fruits and vegetables.

Close to the children, I savoured this new and surprising life. I also discovered another way of thinking, of understanding, of discovering the simple things of life.  Every Sunday afternoon, I would walk around the villages meeting people to "sit together" and talk and get to know each other. But these islands also have their limits and fragilities.Disease, cyclones and especially the ever impressive earthquakes, that I had never experienced before, made us  feel very small and so vulnerable, but oh so supportive of each other. Far from my country, my family and my usual way of doing things, I have also learned to live my faith in God more intensely in the ups and downs of everyday life, sharing the life of this people, so endearing.

During my long years, I have been fortunate to experience many developments in the islands, at the level of schools and parishes, and health. Melanesian priests  the have taken the place of European missionaries. Do I have the right to be proud to have known twelve priests as alumni? At the educational level, Catholic schools held on well after Independence in 1980 to maintain their schools and their level of education and religious instruction.  

As a facilitator for catechesis, I travelled the islands and schools to experience the evangelization of children and adolescents at all levels.

In 2001, it was an appointment to Rome. What an eye-opener to live seven years in the eternal city. It was a wonderful experience of collaborating within the congregation for universal mission by discovering other continents such as North and South America, East and West Africa, where our sisters dedicate themselves under other skies and in various responsibilities such as in the prisons of Peru or the street children in Africa. What a wealth also, the encounters with many other religious congregations. I really enjoyed working with the other branches of the Society of Mary sharing and deepening our Marist Spirit.

In 2017, without warning, here I am parachuted into London, a mission I had never dreamed of or imagined. As religious, we make ourselves available to God, to the Church, to brothers and sisters. I have learned that one can also be a missionary in a city centre.  In the heart of this huge capital, in the most touristic district, is a small corner of paradise "Notre Dame de France". A beautiful church wedged between restaurants and cinemas, offering a haven of peace, silence and prayer for all! A living and vibrant parish with centres in various parts of London for catechism and liturgy in French. This huge city also offers enormous contrasts of all kinds, the very rich alongside poor refugees.  Christians with a committed faith face a world of futile consumption. I continued with catechism at the chaplaincy and I also participate in a group called "Tandem",  accompanying young couples just after their marriage. I also participate in the preparation for the baptism of their children.  Some newly-married  adults ask for baptism or confirmation. This commits us to a deep accompaniment. "With Jesus Christ, joy is born and always reborn," said Pope Francis.

All my gratitude goes first to the Lord, my rock, my refuge, my God who saves me.

I will end with Paul Claudel's word to the Virgin: You are Mary, simply because you exist, Mother of Jesus Christ, all thanks to you!

"In gratitude for the gift of our vocation”;  ( Const 2)   

With all my affection and prayer to all my sisters, co-workers and friends,

Sœur Marie Emmanuel Fuchs smsm