NEWS CENTRE

Early jubilee celebrations for Singleton sister

Singleton sisters recently celebrated Sister Ann Thomson’s golden jubilee of profession. The celebration was early because Ann will be in Pakistan when jubilees are celebrated in September.

Sister Patricia Lake RSM said the liturgy was built around the Scripture from Ecclesiastes – "everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses". She described it as “a particularly apt choice for this time in Ann’s life, our life together as this congregation, and the process we’re all involved in at Institute level”.

Photo: Sister Ann Thomson RSM

On Saturday July 15, the Singleton sisters gathered at Newcastle to celebrate Sister Ann Thomson’s golden jubilee of profession. This was an ‘in anticipation’ celebration while Ann was home from Pakistan because she will be back there when the actual anniversary day comes round in September.

Sixty of us gathered at Noah’s on the Beach, in a function room with large windows giving us almost 180 degrees view overlooking the Newcastle beach with its board riders enjoying the waves, one lone whale spotted on its annual journey north, and the inevitable queue of vessels waiting to load coal in the port stretching along the horizon as far as the eye could see in both directions.

On a beautiful sunny day it was the perfect venue at one of our local iconic home spots, for Newcastle folk somewhat akin to the opera house site for Sydney-siders. We prayed, talked, enjoyed the lovely lunch and drinks provided, and generally made the most of the opportunity to be together and celebrate with Ann.

Our liturgy for the occasion was built around the Scripture from Ecclesiastes: “Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses”, a particularly apt choice for this time in Ann’s life, our life together as this congregation, and the process we’re all involved in at Institute level.

This ‘time’ theme was beautifully woven into our thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness to Ann in all those years, and her gifts to and among us in our own beautiful country. And now, as she carries those gifts on our behalf to the troubled country of Pakistan we joined our leader, Sister Faith Jones, in blessing Ann and sending her back again to continue her work there for the next twelve months. By the time this goes to print she will be settling in to her new ministry with Sister Margaret Madden RSM [Brisbane] at the Teachers’ College in Karachi [the Notre Dame Institute of Education].

Ann’s being in Pakistan has made us here in the Hunter Valley more conscious of the Mercy presence and work there, and by extension, more aware and appreciative of the role of Mercy Works Inc. as the sponsoring arm of the Institute, particularly in these times when limited numbers of personnel  make our physical presence less possible. And this has been an enrichment for all of us.

One of the special elements of the celebration was the presence of three long-time friends of Ann, who had been with her in the novitiate and early years of her religious life, but who had been called to a different path as the years passed. Though we have enjoyed other occasions with our one-time members, this was a ‘first’ for our jubilee celebrations, and was deeply appreciated by our three guests, as well as by many of us who have not had opportunity to meet with these women in recent times.

As the last of us left the room at the allotted time, a veritable army of staff arrived to reset the space for a wedding later that afternoon. Men and women, young, strong and energetic, they reminded me of ourselves in a former time when there were lots of us, young, strong and energetic, with our skirts tucked up and our blue check aprons on, preparing our refectory or community room for just such an occasion. How things do change! “Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses”.

From: Sister Patricia Lake RSM