His Grace the Archbishop at Leederville – Sixteen Postulants Received

05 Jul 2024

By The Record

St Brigid's Convent, Leederville.
The beautiful new convent at Leederville, which was the scene of the Ceremony of Reception on the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when sixteen Postulants were received into the Order of the Sisters of Mercy by His Grace the Coadjutor Archbishop. Photo: The Record.

The spacious new Convent of St. Brigid, Leederville, was the scene of a touching ceremony on July 2, the Feast of the Visitation, when His Grace the Archbishop, Most Rev. Dr. Clune, and His Grace the Coadjutor, Most Rev. Dr. Prendiville, were present at the reception of sixteen Postulants into the Order. Their Graces were welcomed on their arrival by the Rev. Mother and Assistant of St Brigid’s, West Perth, the Mother Superior and Community of the Leederville Convent, and the Parish Priest, Very Rev. Father Moloney. Other priests in attendance were Right Rev. Monsignor Verling, VG Father Truffle, C.SS.R Father Moss, Father Winston. Father Linehan. Father Russell, and Father Browne.

The Convent Chapel was artistically decorated for the occasion — a striking feature being an altar drapery worked in gold and silver sequins, which was a gift to the Postulants on their departure for Australia from Ireland in October last year. Clusters of rose buds, with a background of graceful fern, adorned the altar, adding colour and fragrance to the Sanctuary, while the Lady Altar, bedecked with lilies, recalled the beautiful Feast of the day—the Visitation. A special choir of Sisters from West Perth and Leederville sweetly and devotionally rendered the sacred music, which included a new motet—”Jesu Rex Admirabilis” — composed for three voices, by Don Mario Pettorelli, the conductor of the Vatican Choir.

During the ceremony of Reception, which was performed by His Grace the Coadjutor Archbishop, a most inspiring and eloquent address was delivered by His Grace Archbishop Clune, who in his own inimitable way thrilled the hearts of all present, recalling in full measure that familiar ‘eloquence and felicity of diction for which His Grace is so well remembered, giving the reassurance to his children that his recent illness has left his physical and mental powers unimpaired.

My Dear Sisters, —Yesterday the Church celebrated the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. To-day she celebrates the Feast of the Visitation of Our Blessed Lady. There is something more than chance in the linking of these two feasts in the Liturgy of the Church. There is a deep spiritual significance in that close liturgical juxtaposition. It illustrates in a veiled and mystic manner the truth and the fact that the Precious Blood which was so copiously shed as the price of man’s redemption on Calvary’s hill, at the Pillar where He was so cruelly scourged, that trickled down on the rough cobblestones of the Via Dolorosa—were received from His Blessed Mother as He lay in her womb—that chaste tabernacle of flesh from which in the fullness of time He passed as the ray of pure sunshine passes through the untarnished crystal, leaving her a virgin mother afterwards, who was virgin maiden before. Similarly, my dear Sisters, there seems to be a symbolical spiritual link between the Feast of to-day and the function we are assisting at.  St. Luke tells us that Our Lady in those days, rising up, went with haste into the hill country—a long, toilsome journey, to visit and minister unto her cousin, St. Elizabeth, and to be the humble instrument through which Divine Power emanated from the Divine Child in her womb, and sanctified and cleansed the unborn Baptist in the womb of the Mother. So have you, my dear children, arisen in haste without murmur or regret to undertake a long, perilous and trying voyage, when the Call reached you to utilise all your talents and your energies in ministering to the little lambs of His flock, and to tell Him now what in a few short years you will, please God, seal by an irrevocable vow that all you possess is henceforth His, the undivided love of your young hearts, the labour of your hands, the wholehearted concentration of all the powers of your mind and brain in training the young generation in the knowledge and fear and love of our Divine Lord. As you came along over the seas that separate you from your dear homeland, you might have chanted in gladness and gratitude had you adverted to it the words of the prophet Isaias: “Give ear, ye Islands, and hearken, ye people from afar. The Lord bath called me, and from the bowels of my mother He bath been mindful of my name.”

I pass over the thought of the sublime honour conferred on you by the remembrance enshrined in these consoling words of the Prophet, that from your earliest infancy Our Blessed Lord hath been mindful of your name — that He not only knew you, but loved you with a special love of predilection, of which this function is the consoling outcome. I will rather dwell on the words “Our Lord hath called me.” For what sublime end has He called you before hundreds aye, thousands. of others, whom He has created and redeemed? Why has He called you away from your home in the world to this holy house of fervour, prayer, and strict religious observance? I may answer that query in one sentence–He has called you to be saints. Don’t be appalled by the thought. For whenever He calls, He gives the grace to attain what we are called to. If through the faults, imperfections, and weakness of our poor human nature we do not reach the goal, we are bound to strive earnestly, to aspire always in our religious life, by generously responding to God’s grace to reach a high degree of sanctity. How is that to be done? For people in the world, by the faithful observance of the Commandments — for you in religion by the faithful observance of the Rule you have embraced, and of the vows which you will pronounce later. Keep that before your minds. God has called me from home and country. He has given me the interior strength to sever the sweet, tender, and affectionate bonds that bound me to home and friends, and all that in the world my heart held dear — that in the garb of a Sister of Mercy I may become a Saint even in the flesh — a living lamp, that as the years go by may shed warmer and brighter beams of holiness and virtue in the Convent, in the school, in the sick room, and in all the spheres of apostolic zeal that your Holy Rule may bid you to engage in.

I am sure, my dear children, that, though your lips and tongue may not articulate the exact words of my text, they thrill your hearts this afternoon, Yes, the good God has clothed you with the garment of salvation, and with the robe of Justice He has covered you. The external change of costume is, we hope, and pray, an emblem of the interior changed that God’s grace has wrought in you. Go on then, under the sheltering mantle of Our Blessed Lady, and ever nestling close to that gentle and gracious mother’s heart like St. Paul, “forgetting the things that are behind, press onward to the goal of your supernal vocation.

Our concluding prayer this afternoon will be that there may be here in your Convent home a striking reproduction of what historians tell us characterised many religious communities in the ages of faith —how the young Novices outshone in spiritual fervour and splendour their seniors in profession, and that the religious life of each one of you may be like the cloudless course of a perfect day, breaking amid the silvery radiance of morning at your Reception and after the allotted span sinking to rest in peace and in glory.”