Sisters from across Australia gathered at Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney to acknowledge and celebrate their Tanzanite (80 years), Tourmaline (75 years) and Platinum (70 years) Jubilees.
Seven of the Jubilarians from a group of 15 Sisters were able to gather where they were welcomed by Sisters of Saint Joseph Congregational Leader, Sr Monica Cavanagh, fellow Sisters, family and friends.
Celebrating the Mass was Sydney Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop Terry Brady, who congratulated the Jubilarians on their vowed commitment.
Now all 90 years of age or over, this amazing group of Sisters shared and reflected on their significant years of service in so many ministries – education, social justice, parish pastoral care, religious leadership, and working with rural and regional communities.
Those Sisters who were not able to attend were remembered, particularly the Sisters from the profession groups now resting with God.
“These Sisters have lived the spirit and charism entrusted to the Congregation by Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods. They have done it with commitment, generosity and faithfulness. We honour them for indeed God has done great things in them and it fills us with joy,” said Sr Monica.
Among the sisters celebrating their anniversaries was WA Sister Dora Maguire, a former teacher and representative for Good Grief, an organisation that works with children and young people who were struggling with experiences of change, loss and grief.
Jubilarian, Sister Helen Sullivan, was an 18-year-old from Coonabarabran in western NSW when she joined the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Perthville.
After being professed in 1953, Helen completed teacher training and was sent to work in schools across regional NSW, followed by 11 years in Papua New Guinea supporting remote communities in health and education. Other ministries included working with the Motor Mission, supporting Perthville boarding students, and 19 years working with Sr Maria Sullivan at the Josephite Refugee Mentor Support Project in western Sydney.
“Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods, through the Holy Spirit, were given a special gift to be able to be closer to the people and for me that has been my driving force,” said Sr Helen.
“Just prior to entering the Convent at Perthville I began to question my choice, but as soon as I arrived a tremendous peace came over me and it has never left.
“Becoming a Sister was definitely a calling. I came from a happy family home and enjoyed sports and company, but my inner voice kept saying that there was more to life. One day I received a bunch of flowers and I wanted to put them in water. When I took the ribbon off, I realised the flowers had no stems – no roots. To me, the flowers became a symbol of the ‘fairy floss’ of life that people can get caught up in. I was saved from the ‘fairy floss’ and have been able to do things and go to places which had roots – where I could do something significant.”
The Jubilarians were invited to renew their vows by Sister Monica, and their renewed commitment was met with applause from the Congregation.
Encouraged and supported by God’s unconditional love, the Jubilarians continue in the footsteps of the co- founders of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, St Mary MacKillop and Father Julian Tenison Woods.