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Music, faith fills 70 ‘wonderful’ years

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Sharing her love of music with children and adults over the past 70 years has been one of the great blessings of her ministry as a Josephite, according to Sr Judith Murnane rsj who celebrated her platinum jubilee recently.

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From teaching music to students at schools scattered around South Australia and interstate, to inspiring fellow religious to become music teachers, Sr Judith says her journey with God has been filled with “wonderful times”.

Sr Judith and well-known Josephite historian, Sr Marie Foale rsj celebrated 70 years of religious profession with events in Sydney and Adelaide earlier this year. In a lovely tribute to the two Sisters, students from Mary MacKillop College played a part in the local event. Following the Mass at St Ignatius’ Church, Norwood, senior students welcomed visitors to the Mary MacKillop College gymnasium and then served the lunch that had been provided by the college’s Parents and Friends Association.

Growing up in Kadina, Sr Judith said her call to religious life was greatly inspired by the nuns who taught her at the local St Joseph’s School. It was during these formative years she also started music lessons, another gift from God.

“It has been music that has coloured my religious life and ministry,” she told The Southern Cross.

Moving to Adelaide to attend St Joseph’s Juniorate at Cowandilla for three years, Sr Judith decided to commit her life as a religious Sister and was professed in 1950.

Her first posting was to NSW where she served as a classroom and music teacher. Sr Judith then returned to South Australia and taught music at the Aldgate Juniorate, providing the inspiration for other religious to follow in her footsteps as music teachers.

Other teaching appointments were at Bridge Street higher primary, high school and on to Mary MacKillop College.

Sr Judith ministered in Yorketown and Mt Carmel College, where she found herself teaching matriculation music and in need of some extra tuition.

“I had to attend the School of Music in Flinders Street myself at the time so I could keep ahead of my pupils,” she laughed.

In between her teaching appointments Sr Judith assisted with summer schools in Bordertown, Cummins and Maitland during the holidays, teaching religion to children.

However, attending a program called ‘Crossroads’ in 1990 proved to be a turning point in Sr Judith’s life and ministry.

“I participated in the Clinical Pastoral Education program in the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney in 1991 and then came back to SA to minister the pastoral program at St Catherine’s nursing home at Berri and later the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

“I was so fortunate to be able to spend 24 years of my life caring for sick and dying residents and patients,” she said.

Now well into her retirement, Sr Judith is allowing others to care for her at the Kensington convent.

Recalling her ministry she reflected “with gratitude” on the “many graces God has given me over the years”.

“My memories are of wonderful times and of the more difficult moments, but knowing that God was with me through them all.”

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