A Life That Matters
Sister M. Assumpta Kent rsm entered Religious Life on October 7, 1949 in the Convent of Mercy, Ballarat East. She entered Eternal Life on February 22, 2014. In the intervening years she brought Mercy to many but in her latter years her ministry as part of the Sacred Heart Mission in St. Kilda was closest to her heart. This is seen in the reflection shared with us by Maria George, Pastoral Associate of Sacred Heart Parish, East St. Kilda in Melbourne.
Walking into 11am Sunday Mass at Sacred Heart last week, one of the stalwarts, Alan, remarked to me – ‘I still expect to see Assumpta here, you know. I can’t believe she’s gone’. And we all say the same.
What a presence she had – in many ways quietly working behind the scenes – behind the piety counter where the tea and coffee was served after Mass; talking to this one and that, stopping to speak to men and women on the streets as we walked down to a coffee shop, saying to the rest of us – ‘I’ll catch up with you later’ (maybe 1/2 hour later!) as she had to make sure that the one sitting in the gutter was OK, or the woman on the corner was safe. They just loved her, you know, even though she’d also talk tough too and wasn’t afraid to make her views known.
She once led a boycott of a local cafe, as they’d treated one of the Mission clients pretty disrespectfully, so for our Sunday ‘coffee after coffee’ she insisted that we find another place. She’d told them off too in no uncertain terms and after the owner apologized, we were then allowed to patronize the place again. Of course, we supported Assumpta’s stand, and admired her courage enormously.
Assumpta loved the Mission, with a passion. As well as speaking to all and sundry in just walking the streets, she volunteered in the dining hall and in the op shops. At her memorial Mass, there were many staff, volunteers and clients who remembered her with love – as one who supported them, but especially as friend, ‘mother’ and ‘grandmother’. One of these, ‘Kevin’, all through the Mass, was just itching to get up and say something, badgering Fr John to allow him to have ‘just a few minutes’. He finally did, and we received a heartfelt pledge of love from Kevin for Assumpta that reflected many other’s feelings as well.
And we parishioners felt the same – Assumpta was our friend and for many, a ‘mother’ figure, with whom they had a close and warm relationship, sharing many a dinner or time away. Assumpta also came to all our Parish activities – socials, lunches, BBQs, our parish weekend away, meetings affecting the future of the parish, talks and discussions. Assumpta left us in no doubt that she was a Mercy through and through – that was clear, but we also knew she was Sacred Heart through and through too.
The words spoken by Cathy Humphrey, Sacred Heart Mission CEO, give living testimony to the life of this Sister of Mercy. She said:
"Sister Assumpta was a friend to many, a woman whose life was dedicated to carrying out God’s Mission and she did that for many years at Sacred Heart. She walked beside many people, and shared their journey and gave them comfort in their pain. I called Assumpta my friend, she provided me with encouragement, stern words and lots of support, all in the spirit of looking after the Mission and the people who need our services. I will miss running into her on Grey Street, and the accompanying hug and kiss on the cheek. I just want to share a poem called ‘A Life That Matters’."
Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten,
will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies
will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from,
or on what side of the tracks you lived.
At the end, whether you were beautiful or brilliant, male or female,
even your skin colour won’t matter.
So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built;
not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion,
courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories,
but the memories that live in those who loved you.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.
Assumpta lived a life that mattered and we shall forever feel her presence guiding us in our work here at Sacred Heart Mission.