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Rejoicing precious jubilees


The Sisters of St Joseph gathered with families and friends to celebrate significant jubilees in the life of 11 of their Sisters on March 19.

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The venue was St Ignatius’ Church, Norwood, with which the Josephites have a close association because of the role the Jesuits have played in the history of the Congregation. Interestingly, precious gemstones are associated with each jubilee.

Sr Moira Byrnes celebrated 40 years, her ruby jubilee; gold has long been associated with 50th anniversaries and Srs Loreto O’Connor, Mary Ryan, Brigette Sipa and Theresa Swiggs rejoiced in 50 years of religious profession; diamonds, treasured as gemstones since ancient times, represent 60 years of religious life for Srs Maria Hennekam, Elizabeth Morris and Anna Spaccatore; platinum, a highly valuable precious metal marks 70 years for Srs Shirley O’Loghlen and Teresa Cooper, who is 101 years old and a precious treasure in her religious community, her family and friends; and tourmaline is a gemstone associated with a 75th anniversary, which is being celebrated this year by Sr Joan Mangan.

Archbishop O’Regan presents Sr Teresa Cooper with her papal blessing.

Celebrating the Mass in honour of St Joseph, patron of the Universal Church and the Sisters of St Joseph, were Archbishop Patrick O’Regan, Emeritus Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ and several priests who were either relatives or friends of the jubilarians.  Fr Philip Marshall gave the homily, after which all the Sisters present at the Mass renewed their vows with the jubilarians.

Sr Brigette, regional leader of the Josephites in SA and WA, expressed the Sisters’ ongoing gratitude for the shelter and support which the Jesuits at Norwood provided to Mary MacKillop and her Sisters during the time of Mary’s excommunication, from mid-September 1871 to February 1872.

The jubilee celebration coincided with the 150th anniversary of the day when, after the lifting of the excommunication, Mary MacKillop and 10 of her Sisters resumed the wearing of their habits and publicly renewed their vows in St Ignatius’ Church.  Mary’s excommunication was lifted on February 22 1872, just a few days before Bishop Sheil’s death.

The song Standing on the Shoulders was accompanied by a slide presentation featuring photos of St Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods, pioneering Sisters and many others who inspired women to follow in their footsteps. Sisters professed with the jubilarians, but gone before them in death, were pictured and then finally the 2022 jubilarians.

Archbishop O’Regan presented each Sister with a Papal Blessing to mark the occasion. The Sisters rejoice in their vowed religious life and recognise the challenges which they and the People of God, among whom they live, face in today’s world.

The liturgy was enhanced with beautiful and meaningful music and on behalf of the jubilarians, Sr Shirley O’Loghlen expressed deeply-felt thanks to all who contributed to the celebration and to all those, especially family members and friends, who shared their journeys over many years.  All were sent forth with the words of ‘Bring Forth the Kingdom – of mercy, peace and justice’ ringing in their ears.

Sr Elizabeth Morris is the Adelaide Archdiocese’s Vicar for Religious.


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