“This story began in simplicity in 1877 when Mary Potter…drew a group of women around her to care for the suffering and dying,” said Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ at the dedication ceremony.
“She expressed her outlook and spirituality in sayings such as ‘there is no greater power in life than love’; that ‘we were not made for time only but for eternity’ and ‘let us be instruments God can use any moment’.
“May this spirituality continue and flourish in this place of healing. The Church cannot be Church unless it lives the works of mercy…the Church in Australia attempts to live this, with so much care for the sick and the aged, with 80 hospitals and 550 aged care centres and hospices.”
The first Mass in the chapel was a significant moment for the eight members of the Sisters in attendance.
“Mary Potter saw her Sisters as embracing life, from its beginnings to its end in the completion of death,” Bishop O’Kelly said.
“No one was to die alone. There would be so many families, impossible to number, who live in great gratitude for the ministry of Calvary, especially those whose loved ones were cared for at Mary Potter Hospice.
“The Church in South Australia is indebted to the Little Company of Mary and those who worked with the Sisters, and this is truly a Mass of thanksgiving for the wondrous work that has been done, and for a new beginning in this fine new hospital.”
The opening was the culmination of many months of work by artist Meliesa Judge who designed the stunning bronze sculptures for the Stations of the Cross. With her husband Will Kuiper she also designed the leadlight windows.
The 14 devotions focus on the hands of the protaganists, cast from the hands of real people including Calvary palliative care specialist Kevin Hardy who sat for three hours for each sculpture of Jesus’ hands.
“There were a few moments when I think he (Kevin) wondered if he would permanently lose the use of his fingers after three hours clenched into a fist in liquid rubber,” Meliesa said at the thanksgiving Mass.
“His insight into human reality, through his work in palliative care, his long experience with death and dying, is in the nuances of these hands.” Meliesa said using only hands for the stations meant that the “huge and complex narrative” of the Stations of the Cross were “stripped back to its deeply human elements”.
The sculptures were cast in Meliesa and Will’s Liquid Metal Studios where they have created a number of religious and secular artworks, including Will’s prominent sculpture of AFL legend Malcolm Blight at Adelaide Oval. A committed Catholic, Meliesa is known for her sculptures of Mary Ward, Catherine McAuley and St Ignatius.
She said bronze sculpture was an “ancient tradition” from around 4000 years ago that could soon be lost as foundries and bronze art programs closed down.
“Will and I wonder if ours will be the last generation of sculptural bronze casters,” she said.
“This chapel is a testament to the traditional skills of the artisan.
“Here we see leadlight, the glass cut by hand by Jan and Brenton Worrell, the carpentry for the altar from local makers Senkii, the cross handmade by Kenny Monger.
“This chapel will become more valuable and more remarkable as time goes by, reflecting our contemporary understanding with traditional craftsmanship.
“Here we see the beauty and authenticity that would be familiar even to a carpenter born 2000 years ago.”
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