NEWS CENTRE

Celebrating “˜golden years’ of mercy

Four Parramatta Sisters of Mercy recently celebrated their golden jubilees as religious women. Sister Margaret Sheppard (Parramatta) reports on the celebrations.

Just a few weeks ago, four Sisters of Mercy from the Parramatta Congregation – Therese Gaudry, Margaret Harrison, Anne Marie Quinn, and Patricia Anderson – each celebrated 50 years of life as Sisters of Mercy.

February 16 turned out to be a golden, sun-drenched day, symbolically fitting as these women gathered in Mother Mary Clare Dunphy Memorial Chapel with members of their congregation, religious from other orders, relatives and friends, to celebrate a joy-filled and praise-filled Eucharist which incorporated favourite Scripture readings and hymns chosen by the jubilarians from those 50 full and richly-lived years.

Adding rich dimension to the beautiful and moving liturgy was the realisation that the Eucharist was being celebrated in a sacred place which held precious memories of ‘past days’ and that the four jubilarians were surrounded by so many women and men who were a part of their lives and wished to share their happiness.

Many memories were brought alive during the afternoon tea which followed. Conversations and laughter abounded, and chuckles rippled around the hall when Sister Ailsa Mackinnon, Congregation Leader, spoke these opening words:

“The minutes of the Congregation Council meeting of November 5, 1957, read: ‘As the three novices, Sisters Mary Baptista, le Merci and Augusta (Anne Marie, Patricia and Therese) would be due for profession in January 1958, Mother General read their letters asking for permission to be admitted to temporary profession. The result was unanimous’ (thank God!) and the day was fixed for January 6, 1958.” Later on May 13 the minutes read: ‘As Sister M Genevieve would be due for profession in July 1958, Mother General read her letter asking for permission to be admitted. The result of the voting was unanimous’ (once again, thank God)”.

Within her ‘speech of thanks’, Ailsa expressed deep appreciation for the lives of Pat, Anne Marie, Therese and Margaret, and her words reiterated what her listeners also knew and felt about these great women… “We are grateful for their faithfulness throughout these years – years of change and challenge which has required of them courage and consistency, in spite of illness or difficulties at times. We are grateful for their generosity in sharing their gifts with us and with the people of God in whatever ministry they have been engaged. Pat, Anne Marie, Therese and Margaret – you are prime examples to us of the well-known portrait of a Sister of Mercy. You are – gentle, patient, hardworking, humble, obedient, charitable, and, above all, simple and joyous. Well done, congratulations!”

The day ended as it had begun, full of happiness and appreciation for the four sets of 50 years of lives graced as Sisters of Mercy. Yet, when leaving, there seemed to be an even deeper sense of joy which added fresh impetus to the words of the final hymn chosen for the liturgy… “My soul is joyful, my spirit is glad… God has fashioned his handmaid, God lives in me…” (from Eagles Wings by Frank Anderson MSC).

Photo caption: Sisters Therese Gaudry (at back), Anne Marie Quinn, Margaret Harrison; Catherine Ryan (Vicar), Father Michael Brundell, OCarm, Ailsa Mackinnon (Congregation Leader) and Patricia Anderson (Jubilarian).

From: Sister Margaret Sheppard RSM (Parramatta)