NEWS CENTRE

Jubilee time in Perth!

Congratulations to Sisters Mary Keely and Perpetua Della Marta who recently celebrated the golden jubilee of their profession as Sisters of Mercy in the Perth Congregation. Sister Joan Smith reports: “This weekend of golden jubilee has been a gift. We were able to express our gratitude publicly for two sisters who have walked the journey of Mercy with us. Responding to the call of God’s mission, they followed different paths of ministry, however both have gifted the many people with whom they have related, and in their own words, they too have been gifted.”

Sister Mary Keely (pictured right), Sisters of Mercy and Mary’s family and friends joined Perth’s Queens Park Parish community at the 6:30 pm liturgy. This was a double celebration as the Members of the Norbertine order who serve the parish were honouring their feast of St Augustine. Mercies have ministered in the parish since 1936. While they staffed the primary school, they have been well known for their visitation and pastoral care in the area, as well as travelling by train each day to outlying areas of Gosnells and Armadale.

There were many wonderful words spoken of Mary – her qualities, faithfulness, courage, fidelity and strength, however it was obvious, as we all arrived at the hall for the cup o’ tea and finger food that this was a special occasion that went beyond words.

The multicultural atmosphere was evident. Family and Sisters of Mercy mingled with the many new residents of Australia who had once been in the very difficult situation of having been a refugee or asylum seeker. Mary became closely involved with refugees both offshore and in Western Australia.

In recent years most of her time was spent at the House of Hospitality in Carlisle, however she received a request from Mercy Refugee Service to look at the situation in Port Hedland Detention Centre. Following her visits she set up a house in Port Hedland so she was closer to the situation and able to offer an advocacy support, pastoral care, and also links to others working in the same ministry in Perth.

Gratitude to Mary for her support, comfort and unstoppable energy at following through the many situations she felt were unjustified, needed no words – the eyes, smiles, nods of acknowledgement during the short presentation of Mary’s life said it all. No one cared whether English was well spoken or broken. Somehow the specialness of the night was about relationships, acceptance and love.

Sister Perpetua Della Marta (pictured right) celebrated her fiftieth anniversary in the Immaculate Conception Chapel at Victoria Square surrounded by Sisters of Mercy from Perth and West Perth and family, many of whom had travelled from South Australia and Victoria. Pep’s circle of friends is quite vast. Having worked in many secondary schools – St Brigid’s, Mercy College, Bunbury Catholic College, Ursula Frayne College and Principal of Santa Maria College – staff from the various campuses were there to celebrate.

Then there were friends from Royal Perth Hospital where Pep is now ministering in the Pastoral Care Department; there were friends from her own school days – Pep is known for her faithfulness in friendship. And of course the choir – Pep’s great love of music and song is currently being fulfilled through her choir activities. The presence of the choir certainly swelled the singing and music for the occasion.

A mixture of fun and seriousness was experienced during the many tales that were told by associates and Sisters of a Mercy woman who is full of generosity and action for those in need. We are still not sure how it is, that Pep turns up just when someone is needed.

Her grand nephew (8 years old) wanted to add his testimony: “Aunty Pep is my great Aunty and she is great you know.”

This weekend of golden jubilee has been a gift. We were able to express our gratitude publicly, for two sisters who have walked the journey of Mercy with us. Responding to the call of God’s mission, they followed different paths of ministry, however both have gifted the many people with whom they have related and in their own words, they too have been gifted.

However, on reflection, there were two very connecting links: they both have a love of music and dance and a life lived to the full. Mary from her Celtic roots and Pep from her beloved Italian roots.

From: Sister Joan Smith RSM (Local Communications Facilitator, Perth)