‘Life source’ of Yangebup Parish retires from full duties

15 Oct 2021

By Matthew Lau

Sr Emmanuel and Father Peter Bianchini
Sr Emmanuel sat with Father Peter Bianchini, the priest who brought the stalwart nun to Yangebup Parish in 1990. Photo: Supplied.

The name Emmanuel means “God is with us”, which is certainly a presence Yangebup Parish has felt over the past 31 years with a dedicated and selfless Religious Sister in its midst.

Presentation Sister Emmanuel Crocetti PBVM has recently retired from her Parish Pastoral Assistant role, as the Mater Christi Church community gathered on 1 August 2021 to celebrate her enormous contribution.

Foundational Yangebup Parish Priest, Father Peter Bianchini offered the Mass to farewell and appreciate Sr Emmanuel, joined by concelebrants Fr Bryan Rosling and Fr Jim Corcoran, with Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton presiding.

Homilist Fr Rosling spoke volumes about Sr Emmanuel, her background, and her remarkable family – all four children of poor immigrant parents entered the Church as priest and religious.

A historic picture of Sr Emmanuel Crocetti (top right) with her parents and siblings on the occasion of Fr Gaetano’s priestly ordination in 1951. Photo: Supplied.

“Sister is an amazing woman who I admired and loved for almost 18 years while I was Parish Priest at Mater Christi,” Fr Rosling said.

“As the several hundred people who filled the church for her Mass also love her and know her in the everyday way we all know one another, it was important to reveal more about her: the tragedies, sacrifices and joys that helped make her be the person she is.

“Because of her innate humility, Sister wouldn’t let the parish celebrate either her Silver or Golden Jubilees of Profession. We are fortunate indeed to have been able to pull this Thanksgiving Mass off, despite her protests.”

In 1990, Fr Peter Bianchini employed Sr Emmanuel and Sr Kathleen (now deceased) to work in the newly-established parish and school during his six-year tenure as Parish Priest.

Fr Bianchini was succeeded by Fr Tim Foster, Fr Greg Donovan, Fr Bryan Rosling, and Fr Dat Vuong. The only consistent element was Sr Emmanuel.

“Priests came and went, but Sister was our strength and stay,” Fr Rosling lauded.

This is a special moment for Sr Emmanuel (alongside Sisters Maria and Immaculata, and brother Fr Gaetano) as they meet Saint Pope John Paul II. Photo: Supplied.

Sr Emmanuel is now 31 years into life at Yangebup Parish, the place she calls home.

During her stint, she witnessed significant building projects including Mater Christi Catholic Primary School’s relocation, the presbytery built in 1999 and the church building dedicated during the 2000 Great Jubilee, Emmanuel Catholic College and Hammond Park Catholic Primary School grand openings, as well as the Parish Centre.

Fr Bianchini described Sr Emmanuel as a “very kind and caring soul”.

“Sister Emmanuel has been the life source of the parish because she has kept it all together with her knowledge and practicality.

“She is always reliable, always there doing things,” he explained.

“She is very creative. I still use resources for marriage preparation and baptism forms that Sister designed and printed for me way back then.”

Josephine Crocetti was born as the youngest of five children in 1938 to Italian parents – Giuseppe and Concetta, in Beverley, WA.

Siblings Sr Immaculata (deceased), Fr Gaetano (deceased), and Sr Maria (resides at Iona Presentation Convent) all chose to follow a religious vocation. The third eldest child, Antonietta, died of peritonitis as a toddler.

Sr Emmanuel took her final vows in 1961, reaching the milestone of 60 faith-filled years as a religious sister.

Presentation Sister Emmanuel Crocetti PBVM is this year celebrating her 60th anniversary as a fully professed nun. Photo: Supplied.

In an exclusive interview with The Record, she expressed how entering religious life has blessed her abundantly.

“I had plenty of time to think about it after all my studies. After my dad’s death, I spent two years with mum in Bunbury housekeeping at the Cathedral Presbytery.

“I just had that ‘feeling’ that I wanted to become a Sister, like my sisters,” she joked.

Sr Emmanuel said her family was a major inspiration in her life.

“I didn’t see much of my father because he was always away at work. My mother was a saint; she used to do many things for the church and held great respect for the priests.

“I think it must be in our blood because my sister, Immaculata, was always tending to the church or chapel everywhere she went. She was a champion woman,” Sr Emmanuel added.

“My other sister, Maria, was the same. She was always looking after the churches in the country towns of WA.”

Sr Emmanuel taught at Iona Presentation College for numerous years before joining Yangebup Parish, where the early days in South Lake involved door-knocking to invite people into the church and school.

“I know people who were baptised here and then married, and their children now attend here. I hope I can still be here. This is my parish; it’s my home – all my time and work has been amongst the people here,” Sr Emmanuel voiced.

Marina Hayward, Parish Secretary from 2013 to 2021, has known Sr Emmanuel since she was 12.

“Sister Emm is truly life-giving, nurturing, and completely selfless. “Her commitment and service is her trademark. Her constant presence is comforting and reassuring for our community,” Mrs Hayward commended.

“The delight on her face as [another] one of her ex-Ionian students joined the parish in Yangebup was memorable when I arrived on the parish doorstep in the mid-1990s. We continued to grow our family from expectant mother-of-one when I arrived, to being [almost] full-time colleagues in the parish office 25 years later.

“Our bond is special indicated perhaps no more so than her accompanying me to an ultrasound for one of my pregnancies to check the anatomy and development of my baby, who is now 15 – the wonder and awe she experienced that day will stay with me forever – these two now share a very special bond,” she concluded.