Servite Sisters celebrates 50 years in WA

17 Dec 2020

By Theresia Titus

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, together with Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey and Bishop of Bunbury Gerard Holohan, as well as 19 other priests from across the Archdiocese of Perth with the Congregation of Mother of Sorrows (Servite Sisters) on 5 December. Photo: Matthew Lau.

To allow God to enter our hearts and be a faithful disciple of Christ was the message Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB conveyed in his homily during the Golden Jubilee celebratory Mass for the Congregation of the Mother of Sorrows (Servite Sisters) on 5 December.

Held at Our Lady of the Apostle Church, Riverton Parish, the Mass was concelebrated by Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey, Bishop of Bunbury Gerard Holohan and Riverton Parish Priest Father Paul Manickathan SAC, together with 19 diocesan priests.

Archbishop Costelloe began his homily by resonating the words of Mary, Mother of the Lord: “The Mighty One has done great things for me, and Holy is His Name”, which he believes befitted the works the Sisters have done.

Founded on 8 December 1854 in India, the Servite Sisters arrived in Western Australia 50 years ago at the initiative of Fr Chris Ross OSM and the invitation of then Perth Archbishop Launcelot Goody.

Archbishop Costelloe believes the Lord has indeed allowed them to do great things, becoming an integral part of the life and mission of the Church in the dioceses of WA.

“I am sure that their hearts are as full of gratitude to God for all His blessings as Mary’s heart was,” Archbishop Costelloe stated.

“We are all here today because we, too, want to thank God for the wonderful gift which the sisters have been, and continue to be, for our Church. The Lord has done and still does, great things for us by giving us this special gift.

“It is a gift, of course, which goes far beyond the work the sisters do here in Western Australia, important and life-giving though that work is. The real gift which the sisters bring is the witness, not so much of what they do, but of who they are,” he continued.

“They are a group of women who have made the most radical of choices: to embrace the religious life and to publicly and permanently commit themselves to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as a group of consecrated women.”

Archbishop Costelloe noted that religious life itself stretches back to the earliest centuries of the Church, originated from deep desires of many to “find a way to give everything to God, just as the early martyrs gave the ultimate gift of their lives”.

With many religious orders exist in the Church today, Archbishop Costelloe is sure that their goal is universal and communal: “to offer to the Church and the world a living and powerful sign of what fidelity to Christ and his Gospel is”.

In his homily, Archbishop Costelloe said that to allow God enters our hearts and be a faithful disciple of Christ is an essential part of every Christian’s vocation. Photo: Matthew Lau.

“What it looks like, not just for religious but for all of us, is this: to live in a communion of love and faith with our brothers and sisters; to live a life of simplicity and of attachment to God and his plan for humanity rather than to material possessions; to live in openness to God’s will to be able to say, as Mary did, “I am the servant of the Lord, let God’s will be done in my life”; and to live a life that is marked by profound reverence for the dignity of each person, never using others for personal gain or satisfaction but always seeing each person as a brother or sister to be served with humility and joy”, he explained.

“These profound Gospel values, which of course marked the life of Jesus himself, are expressed by religious in the vows of poverty, obedience and chastity. But precisely because they are the values by which Jesus lived, they are not optional extras for any Christian: every one of us – married or single, male or female, young or old, healthy or sick – is called to live this way.

“And it is the presence of the Servite Sisters in our local Church which stands as a powerful reminder of this common vocation which every Christian share: to be a faithful disciple of Jesus, reproducing in the pattern of our own individual lives, and in the reality of our circumstances, the pattern of his life,” he added.

Concluding his homily, Archbishop Costelloe expressed his gratitude for the presence of the Sisters, which is a “powerful and life-giving sign of the vocation we all share”.

“We thank the sisters for their witness, their fidelity and their gentle Christ-like presence among us and we thank God that in the mystery of his providence he has brought the sisters here, all the way from India, to enrich our lives and Christian witness,” he concluded.