A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Setting out, and setting out again…

Fifty years of missionary service as a Missionary Sister of the Society of Mary

Sister Marietta smsm

Sister Marietta smsm

1962, 8 December -- Sr Marietta Judith Parsons made her Religious Profession by taking the three vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience, at Heretaunga, Upper Hutt.

by Sr Bertha Hurley smsm

2012, 8 December – fifty years later, Sr Marietta celebrated her Golden Jubilee of Religious Profession, in St Matthew’s Church Hall, Christchurch. During those fifty years, Sr Marietta has lived life to the full, in service to God and His Mission. Thirty years in Samoa, ten years in New Zealand, ten years in the Solomon Islands. Sister was a Missionary – wherever there was a need she was able to fulfil it. Most of her years have been spent teaching children at both primary and secondary level, many years as Principal of schools, or as Director of Catholic Education, in leadership within the SMSM Congregation, supervisor of work, duties and studies at St Joseph’s, Tenaru, the only Catholic boarding school in the Solomon Islands, School Counsellor, etc. “To teach is to touch a life forever” – and Sr Marietta has touched thousands of lives during these past fifty years.

Of more recent years, Sr Marietta was appointed to work in liaison with the Pacific Leprosy Foundation (Patrick Twomey, the Leper Man) where she visited about five hundred persons who had had leprosy back in the 1960s and 1970s. She checked on their medicines and wounds, and prepared over one hundred projects for the PLF for new and renovated housing, showers and toilets, water tanks, school fees for children, etc. Self esteem of families rose during this period of time as families felt that they were cared for and loved. Children were now going to school regularly and had a school uniform so their grades rose remarkably. Parents were relieved of stress and worry trying to raise money so that they could send their children to school. Many of these children are now holding responsible jobs in Samoa as they were able to benefit from a good education – some young people have graduated from the University of Samoa. After Sister returned to New Zealand in 2005, she was asked to return to Samoa yearly to monitor the families and continue her work, which had lessened a lot since she began in 1999.

Sr Marietta now lives in community with Sr Bertha in Christchurch, Sr Marietta’s home city where her two sisters, Colleen and Patricia and brother Derek, still live with their children and grandchildren. Marietta’s Mother, Dot Parsons, died in 2006 and her Dad in 1989. The Sisters have been Pastoral Workers in the parish of the Holy Trinity, Bryndwr for the past five years. It was in this parish in St Matthew’s Church Hall that Marietta marked her special day – It was a privilege to have Bishop Barry celebrate Mass with seven concelebrants including Fr Rick, Parish Priest, and five Marist Priests who had been on mission in Samoa and the Solomon Islands with Marietta.

SMSM group

Back: Sisters Bertha Hurley, Maureen Connor, Marietta, Catherine Jones, Susanne Keenan
Front: Alice Hardiman, Mina Ha’unga

Sr Marietta, in her short speech of thanks to everyone present and to all those who had made her celebration such a memorable one – seven SMSM Sisters, Family, School Friends, Parishioners - that she has had a very happy, fulfilling and adventurous life and given another chance, she would come to the same decision as she did fifty years ago, and consecrate herself to God in Religious Missionary Life as an SMSM.   

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