Greetings on this great feast of Easter.
As Pope Francis reflects: ‘The Easter Triduum is the memorial of a drama of love that gives us the certainty that we will never be abandoned in life’s trials’. Over these past days of the Paschal Triduum, we have journeyed with many emotions. We have experienced fear and courage, betrayal and faithfulness, grief and joy and despair and hope. We have heard the heartbeat of God’s love as we, like John the Beloved, have leant upon the breast of Jesus at the last supper; we have touched the heartache of Peter as he denies the one to whom he has pledged his life; we have experienced the despair of Judas and the cowardice of Pilate and stood faithfully at the Cross with Mary. We have sat in the darkness of the tomb and touched those dark places within as we have grieved with the people of New Zealand and the people of Rwanda celebrating the 25th anniversary of 100 day genocide in their nation. We have touched into the suffering of Jesus from all corners of the world where war, drought, famine, floods and earthquakes have destroyed homes and livelihoods. From these seeds of hardship new life begins to emerge – new life born of the hope of Easter. We have seen New Zealanders unite as one, embracing difference and standing as one with their brothers and sisters. We have heard stories from Rwanda of forgiveness and reconciliation and we have heard stories of great rejoicing as yet one more person is rescued from the rabble of a natural disaster.
These are the Easter stories of today. Like Mary Magdalene, may the actions of our daily lives proclaim that Jesus is truly alive as we welcome the dawning of a new day, transform our fears into acts of courage, reach out with a hand of hope to a refugee, listen to the story of our first peoples and celebrate the beauty that surrounds us in the gift of creation. In and through these moments, we experience the spirit of that first Easter, rising once again as we proclaim ‘He is risen Alleluia’.
May this Easter be filled with deep peace and joy as we move forward as people of the Resurrection filled with the light of the Easter candle.
Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj
On Sunday 24 February 2019, the sisters gathered in the chapel at St Joseph’s Convent Kensington (South Australia), and burst into joyous song with “Come sing out our joy to our God.”
They were celebrating the fact that their dear friend, colleague, Associate and Affiliate – Dianne Colborne – was making her Life Commitment as a Sister of Saint Joseph.
The Celebrant for the occasion was Fr James McEvoy, a long-time friend of Dianne’s.
During the Reflection after the Readings, Genevieve (Gen) Ryan rsj focused on the reading from Jeremiah 29 in which God says:
Gen traced the unfolding of God’s plan and call to Dianne by drawing our attention to many occasions and incidents in her life. She told how Dianne started her journey into Josephite life as a very young woman in 1970. Nudged by God’s Spirit, she moved away from the formal journey towards religious life and, in 1971, she came to Adelaide where she lived out her discipleship as a teacher, principal of Catholic Schools and, in due course, a Pastoral Associate in the Adelaide Archdiocese.
As we know, every Religious Order has its charism and spirit. It is difficult to define that charism but once a person is drawn to a particular religious community it is easy to recognise it in her life – especially by those already living it. Long before Dianne made any moves to formalise her commitment, other Josephites recognised our Charism in her.
She is now a Sister with Life Commitment and the Eucharistic celebration during which she professed her vows is still resounding in the hearts of all who were present.
Once the celebrations surrounding her commitment were over, Dianne returned to Western Australia where she is Co-ordinator of a Retreat Centre at Safety Bay, near Perth. There her ministry is one of hospitality and welcome to those who come seeking to deepen their relationship with self, others and God.
View photos from the celebration in the gallery below:
Photos provided by Patricia Keane rsj and Dianne Colborne rsj. Used with permission.
Easter provides us with a time to reflect on our love for Jesus.
Provided below are four reflections: one each for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday for you to use…
Reflections provided by: Frances Maguire rsj, Emilie Cattalini rsj, Wendy Lailey rsj and Kathleen Hitchcock rsj
Evolving Consciousness – Our Common Home
This Lent season you are invited to evolve your consciousness in caring for our common home. Nellie McLaughlin provides a reflection with the key message to ‘Change the Story: From Separation to Interconnectedness’.
Be inspired to answer the ‘call to change’ by reading the reflection provided below:
A reflection for Palm Sunday…
Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of Lent, the beginning of Holy Week, and commemorates the triumphant arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem.
Please download and continue reading the Palm Sunday Reflection
New Zealanders expressed both grief and unity at the time of the Christchurch tragedy; they showed the world that humanity can rise after terrible events
They honoured the dead, fostered unity and demonstrated the truth of the inclusive ‘us’. Their Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, embraced the whole of the nation’s heritage and culture: of those that have come in recent times and of the ancient culture of the Māori people.
We, in Australia, watched New Zealanders drawn intuitively, and possibly at an unconscious level, to the ancient centre of themselves. As the people of Christchurch expressed the intangible ‘us’, the power of the Haka reverberated around the world. Though Australians may not understand the gesture well, many are drawn to envy New Zealand’s link with ancient culture. In the overwhelming grief and pain of the tragedy, we see the Haka expressing pride, strength and unity.
Australia’s ‘new settlers’, those who have arrived in the past 240 years from the European Union (EU), Asia, the Middle East, the Americas, Africa and the Pacific, are gradually discovering the 60,000 years of culture in this country.
Systematic research has, for some years, charted Australian attitudes to the First Nations of this land. Results are published as ‘The Reconciliation Barometer’. The most recent posting indicates that 90% of Australians now believe that our relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important, and 79% agree that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are relevant to Australia’s national identity. The Reconciliation Barometer is read every two years and the recognition of Australia’s Indigenous culture continues to rise. Gradually, though belatedly, many Australians are acknowledging it.
Josephite Sister Kenise Neil wrote, “[Father] Julian Tenison Woods’ description of his downward descent into the Naracoorte Caves could be a metaphor for our life journey into our indigenous selves”:
Christians in Australia are searching for spirituality embedded in our country. Pope John Paul II addressed a gathering of First Peoples in Alice Springs many years ago:
In May 2017 representatives from all Aboriginal Nations across Australia and the Torres Strait Islands met in Uluru and issued, with the overwhelming support of this historic gathering, a powerful ‘Statement from the Heart’. They invited all Australians to claim the heritage of the land. Given that Australia was settled without Treaty, there are two sentences that I find most poignant. ‘When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country’. The entire Statement was summarily dismissed by political leaders of the time, but will eventually be seen as a defining moment in the history of Australia.
I cannot help comparing Australia and New Zealand.
I recall the words of the poet David Whyte:
Joan Healy rsj
Right image: Mine Bay Māori rock carving of Ngātoroirangi on Lake Taupō, New Zealand. Used with permission.
Left image: Outback Ayers Rock Uluru Landscape Australia obtained from Max Pixel. Used with permission.
To Jesus’ friends and followers, his death and burial in a cave were the absolute opposite of what they had fondly expected. In those moments, it seemed that everything that he had promised had been a giant hoax. Their hopes were dashed.
Through the gifts of hindsight and our faith, we know differently, and in this month of April, we reflect on the events of the first Holy Week, through a different lens from theirs. Unlike those who stood by, shocked and disheartened as they witnessed Jesus’ burial in a borrowed tomb, we know, and will celebrate again at Easter, that he rose again ‘on the third day’, and that his memory lives on in the lives of his present-day followers.
After a lifetime committed to following Jesus, and ever-mindful of the Cross in her life, Mary MacKillop’s burial bore a striking resemblance to that of Jesus. Her tombstone was also provided by a friend, Joanna Barr-Smith. Mary, of course, did not physically rise from the tomb, but her memory too lives on today. Mary’s spirit has captured the hearts of countless people who continue to be inspired by her story of love, courage, compassion, forgiveness and trust in our God who never stopped providing for her.
This month, we are invited to spend some time reflecting on the scene of Jesus’ burial, and to stand in solidarity with those who have lost hope.
Station 14: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
- First: reflect upon what is happening to Jesus in this thirteenth Station
- Next: ponder the Moments in the Life of Mary MacKillop
- Finally: reflect upon how this links with your own life
Gently, Joseph of Arimathea wrapped the body of Jesus in a linen cloth and placed in on a ledge, in a tomb that was probably a burial cave cut from the soft limestone rock. To protect the body from wild animals a large rock is placed at the entrance of the tomb. Those who love Jesus mourn their loss: it seems that all is lost. The vision of God’s reign, so central to the life and ministry of Jesus, seems now a distant dream.
Moments in the life of Mary MacKillop
Mary MacKillop died in Alma Cottage, North Sydney on 8 August, 1909. Initially she was laid to rest in the Gore Hill Cemetery but in 1914 her remains were transferred to the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel at Mount St, North Sydney convent where she was placed in front of the altar of the Blessed Virgin. Joanna Barr Smith paid for the beautiful marble tomb that has become her final resting place. This has become a place of pilgrimage as thousands of pilgrims come each year to visit this sacred place.
Moments in My Life
- If you knew that this was your last day how would you spend your time?
- What would you want to say to the significant people in your life?
Take a moment to reflect in silence upon these aspects of your life. We tend to take life for granted and live in an unreflective manner. The death of a loved one can pull us up short and help us to re-prioritize what is really important. We come to a deeper understanding of what gives life meaning.
Jesus you call me to be open to every aspect of my life, to be aware of its beauty, its gift. You invite me to live with intention, to embrace each day. Constantly draw me toward all that is good, so that through my actions others may experience a glimpse of your goodness.
Forgive me Lord for the times when apathy in given free reign and I become blind to all that life holds. Encourage me to ponder on life’s meaning. Help me to graciously accept the process of ageing and to find wisdom in the passing of time. May I finally delight in your presence and find my rest in you.
Stations of the Cross: A Journey with St Mary of the Cross MacKillop – Valerie DeBrenni
© 2012 Trustees of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart
Available for purchase @ $7.95 from Mary MacKillop Place Bookshop, Mount Street, North Sydney, or online
Station 14: Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel, North Sydney
‘Jesus is buried’: Mary Ryan rsj. Used with permission.
This month you’re invited to read about Sr Kathryn’s Aboriginal Ministry.
The Aboriginal Catholic Ministry (ACM) tentatively began in the Diocese of Lismore at Bowraville with the arrival of Fr Bernie Ryan sm around 1990, the same time that three aboriginal children in Bowraville were murdered, a case that is still unresolved.
Some years later (1995) the ACM was formalised as an Inter Provincial project consisting of a team of Marist Fathers, a Mercy Sister and a Christian Brother based in the Southern part of the Diocese.
In 2001 I was appointed to this team. For six months during my discernment time, I was exploring where there was a need. Aunty Ponnie (Yvonne del Signore) a Bundjalung Catholic elder invited me to Ballina to meet the local community. It was Aunty Ponnie who suggested that I come and be with the Catholic mob in the Ballina area and surrounds as they really didn’t have anyone ministering to them in the Northern part of the Diocese. Since that time I have been doing a dual ministry of Aboriginal and Parish Pastoral Associate in St Francis Xavier Parish, Ballina.
During this time Aunty Ponnie has been mentor and friend guiding me in the cultural ways of the Bundjalung people. Aunty Ponnie was the conduit for me and the local community. Sad to say Aunty Ponnie died last year.
Ministry is blessed with chaos and drama. I try to bring some order and calm to situations as they arise e.g. being with the families and individuals in their vulnerability and fragility particularly in times of grief and tragedies. On the other hand there are wonderful times of ‘get togethers’ for special occasions such as NAIDOC Week and other family celebrations. Just recently the parish celebrated its first Aboriginal Catholic wedding, a joyous and treasured memory for all concerned.
There was change to the ACM two years ago when the Marist Fathers withdrew from the Diocese leaving a big hole in the ministry. Prior to their departure Aboriginal Masses were held once a month in each region. Baptisms and Funerals were included in the ministry. With that departure the ACM is left with only myself in the Northern part of the Diocese and Br Steve Morelli cfc in the Southern part of the Diocese. Part of Steve’s ministry is working in linguistics and enabling Aboriginal languages to be accessible.
Preparation for Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion are done through the St Francis Xavier Parish. The personal approach that I use is another means of contact with the families and a way of knowing that the children are prepared to celebrate the particular Sacrament.
My ministry is one of privilege and trust as I develop and continue to build meaningful relationships within the community. The Aboriginal people feel free to drop into the parish office when in need or to get help. My pastoral role in the parish has allowed this connection to evolve.
Over the years I have witnessed a real growth within the Aboriginal community; there are more students completing Year 12 and accessing tertiary education than in earlier years. The employment level within the area has greatly improved.
It is with gratitude and joy that I continue this ministry with the Aboriginal Community in the northern part of the Diocese of Lismore.
Kathryn Sweeney rsj
Images provided by Sr Kathryn Sweeney. Used with permission.