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placeholder Elementary Schools Information Guide

Diocese considers alternatives for future of Catholic schools

Graduate becomes
the principal
at Fremont's
Holy Spirit School

St. Felicitas Kinder 'stars' have their
own singing nun

Grandparents Day
in Martinez

Art of the heart

Leaders share a commitment to
Catholic education

St. Paul opens
new Media Center

Church continues
to rely on basics,
faith and funding

Pope goes back to school, meets students, community in Harlem

Musical unity a feature of Chautauqua celebration

Blue Mass honors police, firefighters,

Free help for applicants for U.S. citizenship at the cathedral Oct. 17

Laudato Si topic
of Day of Reflection

Dorothy Day's granddaughter
to speak at
Berkeley parish

Sister M. Ruth
Faisca, SHF

Pro-life a way of life
for self-described
'Fool for Christ'

Order of Malta
Clinic: Free health
care for poor

Carondelet Sisters maintain strong presence

Marist Sisters take
on multitude
of ministries
in varied fields

New leaders named
for Sisters of the
Holy Names

Nun on the Bus
coming to Bay Area
on Oct. 16

placeholder October 5, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 17   •   Oakland, CA
Marist Sisters take on multitude of ministries
in varied fields

"It's complicated."

Those words were spoken by Sister Mary John Paul Chao when asked to describe the various ministries that she and other members of the Marist Missionary Sisters support.

They teach catechism, visit the homebound and sick in hospitals and help feed the hungry. They also visit prisons, help comfort mothers and families who are devastated by the loss of their loved ones due to shootings and other crimes, and they are advocates for victims of human trafficking.


Marist Missionary Sisters

Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary

1881 in France

Arrived in the East Bay:

Original ministry:

Current ministries:
helping the poor, homeless, sick

No. in the East Bay:
3, in Richmond

It's "a hodge-podge of ministries," said Sister Chao, who herself belongs to groups like the Northern California Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking. Their mission is to aid people who are most in need. In the Diocese of Oakland there are three Marist Missionary Sisters who do all that and more for the glory of God.

The Marist Missionary Sisters can trace their beginnings as a religious community to a woman, Marie Franciose Perroton and 10 other women who left their homeland in France from 1845 to 1860 and traveled to Wallis, an island in the South Pacific. The women were responding to an urgent plea for help by the Christians on the island who reportedly wrote "send us some devout women to teach the women."

As their numbers grew the women formed small communities in Wallis and Futuna in New Caledonia, and later in Samoa, according to the Sisters' website. In 1881 the Church recognized the group of women as a religious community and they were called the Sisters of the Third Order of Mary. In the 1860s the Sisters established a small community in Australia and over time they branched off and took their ministry of service to Fiji and Tonga and many other islands in the south Pacific. Eventually their ministry reached the United States, in the Boston area.

The Sisters moved to California in 2000, where they were drawn to minister in communities that host a diversity of cultures — many of which came from the south Pacific. Some of their ministry involves helping immigrants from Oceania — many of whom have trouble adjusting to life in a very different culture, said Sister Chao. Sometimes priests from various parishes call on the Sisters to help them minister with growing numbers of Asian and Oceania people who have settled in their parishes, said Sister Chao.

Today with more than 400-plus members, the Marist Missionary Sisters can be found in 30 countries.

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