Remembering Sisters at Rice Village
One of the aspects of Mercy Day Celebrations 2017 at Rice Village was the blessing and installation of a plaque to honour and commemorate those Sisters of Mercy who have died whilst a resident at Rice Village. This was a very moving adjunct to the Eucharist at which each Sister present prayed the Act of Consecration and was presented with a golden rose by Services Manager Bernadette Bartok and Pastoral Care Director Geraldine Malady.
The plaque was placed under an olive tree, not far from the flag pole in the grounds of Rice Village, and Fr Charles Balnaves prayed several blessing prayers to mark the occasion. After the ceremony we began to muse on the identity of these Sisters who had died whilst in care at Rice Village. As you may recall, way back in 1997, when the residents of the old St Joseph’s were transferred to the new facility, Rice Village was the primary place of care for our infirm Sisters. This was before the development of the multiple locations of Mercy Health facilities with which we are now familiar. In our musings we were able to bring to mind many names: Joan O’Loughlin, Ruth Bowcher, Kath Shillito, Maureen Cussen, Melita Burke, Gabrielle Jennings, Marie Lawlor, but we felt inadequate, and realised there were many more that we were missing especially from the early years, and determined that we would follow up this quest of memory.
Over lunch a photo album from Mercy Day 1997 and later was produced, which brought to mind some of the relevant Sisters and brought many memories flooding back. It also created some confusion because some of those photographed were visitors rather than residents. There was Patrice Briggs with her sister Bernadette, Aquinas Huxtable, Ephrem Hartigan, Patricia Healy, Regina Heywood. Kath Tierney and Kate Mannes were there as visitors! Clare Conway was pictured in her carer role with Joan Keenan.
Joan Wilson has undertaken to research the Mercy Health central archives where the records are held, as well as the former Melbourne Congregation Archives. Joan will get back to us in due course and we’ll see what names and stories spring back to our memories. We look forward to further remembering! Such gentle and affectionate remembering, and perhaps some that calls for forgiveness and letting go of old hurts, is not a clinging to the past so much as a gracious act of solidarity in the present, and an articulation of values for the future.
Messages to: Mary Wickham rsm