ketekorero November 2015
Sr Jeanne Marie takes up the cross for the consecrated life
or Shona Woodhead and her family, the occasion of the profession of her daughter Sister Jeanne Marie as a Sister of Mary, Morning Star is one of thoughtful excitement. Like many young people Sister Jeanne Marie went through an experimental period in her late teens and early twenties while trying to find her place in life. After trialling a range of jobs and lifestyles, her search took her to India where she spent six months with the Brothers and Sisters of the Community of St John. After this experience, Sister Jeanne Marie knew that this was what she had been searching for. Shona and her children are due to go to Spain in November for Sister Jeanne Marie’s profession as a sister in the order of Sisters of Mary, Morning Star. The order, much like Sister Jeanne Marie, has grown out of a difficult period in its journey since its initial formation. The order started out as branch of the Community of St John, founded by Father Marie-Dominique Philippe in 1978. After many changes and challenges, including dissolution by Pope Benedict in January 2013, the Sisters of Mary, Morning Star was established in June 2014 in Bergara, Spain. The order has about 250 members in 10 countries. The community belongs to the monastic (or Coenobitic) tradition where members live a combination of solitary and communal life. Although the sisters live in a way that is more associated with monastic orders, they live without enclosures. They describe themselves as “non-cloistered” contemplative sisters. As much as the young Sister Jeanne Marie was deeply into the negatives of life, her sister Michelle
The following details of the Cross to be presented to Sister Jeanne Marie on the occasion of her profession as a Sister of Mary, Morning Star have been provided to Kete Korero: The cross, which will be taken to Spain by Sr Jeanne Marie’s mother Shona Woodhead and her siblings Michelle, Alana and Paul Robinson, went with the blessing of her home parishes. Standing about 45 cm by 30 cm, the cross, made out of native matai, represents the whenua or land where Sr Jeanne Marie was born and has her roots. The earth that sustained this tree also sustained her as she grew into adulthood. The two arms of the cross were worked and assembled by a joiner in her home town of Tauranga, and the carving completed by Albert Te Po, a Te Arawa carver based at Te Puia in Rotorua. Sr Jeanne Marie is the granddaughter of Ray and Joy Dibley and Rotorua is her family’s turangawaewae. “The cross stands on a strong
Sr Jeanne Marie with Shona at the time of saying her vows. was living life as a strong faith-filled Catholic. Undaunted by the tattoos and piercings, Michelle encouraged her sister to get her life back on track by attending the Catholic
firm base and represents the strength of our family and our faith,” says Shona. The cross is not flat but has a central ridge peak. This represents the maunga or mountains of New Zealand, the land formed from the sea. The koru or fern frond design at the base of the cross signify growth and new life. It represents the new life that Sr Jeanne Marie is undertaking.
The poutama or stair designs through the centre of the cross are the stairways of knowledge that she will climb as she journeys through life, onwards and upwards to heaven and to God. The star that is inset in the middle of the cross represents the morning star and links her to her order Mary, Morning Star, Maria, Whetu o te Ata, and to the Southern Cross. The pieces of paua shell represent the wounds of Jesus. The arms of the cross each end in a ngaru or wave pattern. These are the waves of the oceans connecting New Zealand with the rest of the world and connecting Sr Jeanne Marie back to her homeland. Because of Sr Jeanne Marie’s strong connection to Tauranga the cross has, with the blessing of Father Mark Field and Father Darren McFarlane, passed through the parishes of St Thomas Aquinas and St Thomas More visiting the churches of St Joseph’s, Te Puna, St Mary Immaculate, Tauranga and St Thomas More.
summer school, Hearts Aflame. “I always said that [Sister Jeanne Marie] was a try hard bad girl, but with a rock solid background. The strength of faith of her sister is something that has drawn her back into it.” Shona says, as a Post-Vatican II child, her approach to Catholicism was quite different to that of her daughters. While she accepted her faith as a given, her daughters wanted to learn the “why” behind it. They grew in knowledge through experiences in Youth Groups, NET and Hearts Aflame and affirmed that Catholicism was the right pathway. Sister Jeanne Marie’s journey towards her profession has taken her from her initial encounter in India to time spent living and growing with the community around the world. This journey included convents in the United States, Philippines, Netherlands, France and, more recently, in Bergara, which is located in the autonomous “Basque Country” in the north of Spain. The order’s unique approach includes not owning the buildings they live, work and worship in. As such, where possible, they make use of abandoned or unused Church properties, such as former monasteries or convents, which are acquired after negotiation with the
current Catholic owners and the Bishops of each diocese. The sisters are not sponsored so must make their own way in the world. They rely on God’s providence through the generosity of family, friends and other benefactors including a “begging” arrangement with local supermarkets and businesses. The sisters also make and sell goods such as leather goods, lavender products, jams, greeting cards and candles. These are sold to the local community or online. Sister Jeanne Marie’s artistic talents and her New Zealand practicality help her contribute to the communities in which she lives. The community of Bergara is the novice house and consists of about 40 women who live work and worship together. Their day is centered around the Eucharist and includes periods of silence, prayer and study. Their charism is to be a visible sign and presence of prayer in today’s world. Overall, their life is one of expecting miracles to happen because of prayer. “...the thoughtful excitement of lonely rambles, of gardening, and of other like occupations, where the mind has leisure to must during the healthful activity of the body, with the fresh and wakeful breezes blowing round it...” Augustus Hare, English writer 1834-1903.
Publication of the Catholic Diocese of Hamilton, New Zealand