The seven Sisters celebrating their Golden Jubilee in 2023, gathered at Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel at North Sydney to celebrate with family, fellow Sisters and friends at their Mass of Thanksgiving on 5 January.
In welcoming those gathered to celebrate, the Celebrant Fr Mark McGuigan acknowledged the journey each Sister had undertaken to arrive at this day.
In her introduction to the renewal of vows, Sr Josephine Dubiel recalled that “back in 1970 these young women responded to a call – to serve God as Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. In 1973, after having followed a program of training, study and discernment, they chose to make a commitment which involved taking public Vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience. So on this special celebration day, it is apt that they reaffirm this commitment in the presence of all of you, their gathered family and friends”.
The seven Jubilarians Sisters Monica Cavanagh, Kathleen Hitchcock, Anne Hoey, Colleen Keeble, Lorraine Robinson, Julie Simpson and Margaret Stapleton had gathered from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Peru three days earlier to reconnect and reminisce. As part of our time together, we were privileged to have Sr Elaine Smith lead us in a time of reflection on the journey that had led us to this day. Over three sessions we recalled significant events that had nourished us over the past 50 years and concluded our time together with a ritual of thanks.
During our time together we were joined by mentors from our early years as religious – fellow Sisters and teachers who were integral in our initial formation.
Our lives have continued to be nourished by the many Sisters who have inspired us by their courage, words of wisdom and their passion for a fair and brighter future. Former members of our group who began this journey with us also joined us for a day of sharing. The day concluded with our gathering around the tomb of Mary MacKillop to remember the four members of our original group who were now resting with God. The time we spent together was an opportunity to thank them for their continued ongoing support and their friendship.
The hospitality of the Congregational Leadership Team, the Jubilee Committee and the staff of Mary MacKillop Place made our time together memorable through the many ways they attended to the smallest details. We were truly blessed by their generosity and support.
All too soon it was time to draw our gathering to a close and return to our various ministries enriched from our time together and remembering the words of Micah:
to do justice
and humbly walk with your God.
Kath Hitchcock rsj