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Celebrating a kaleidoscope of Consecrated Life


A kaleidoscope is defined as ‘a continually changing pattern of shapes and colour’. This could well describe the experience of those Sisters who on June 1 celebrated their various jubilees of profession within the SA community of the Sisters of Mercy, with a Eucharist led by Fr Maurice Shinnick.

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The Sisters come from a variety of backgrounds and places, and their stories show a breadth of the call to Mercy ministry and the great diversity of gifts, talents and service that each of them has brought to the living out of her calling.

Srs Mary Therese Mutlow (70 years professed) and Deirdre Murphy (60 years) were taught by the Sisters of Mercy at St Scholastica’s School, Mount Barker, but initially Mary met the Sisters in the Infant School at Broken Hill. Both joined the Sisters in Parkes, NSW, where the Wilcannia Forbes Congregation had their novitiate. This group of Mercies ministered mainly in Outback Australia. Deirdre was unable to join in the celebration because of ill-health.

Sr Dr Maureen Gleeson OAM (60 years), a Dominican Old Scholar from Cabra, trained as a nurse at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital before going to Melbourne Mercy Hospital to do midwifery. She joined the Melbourne Congregation, later transferring to North Sydney and more recently moving back home to Adelaide.

Sr Dr Patricia Fox and Sr Pat McAuley (60 years) both came from families involved in the hotel industry (their fathers were publicans) and learnt from an early age the importance of hospitality. Both boarded at Mercedes College before joining the Adelaide Congregation. Joining the Adelaide Congregation at the same time, Srs Josephine Weatherald and Anne Cashen did all their schooling with the Sisters of Mercy at Henley Beach and have known the Sisters all their lives.

Josephine’s older sister Catherine had joined the Mercies some years previously. Anne celebrated her 60th jubilee in January this year, but died before the joint celebration of all the 2024 jubilarians.

Srs Mary Symonds (50 years) and Elaine Treagus (25 years) began their journey in England. Both came with their families to Australia as teenagers. Mary encountered the Sisters of Mercy in 1964 when the family were very new migrants. She met Mother Paul at the Elizabeth Convent who was able to organise for Mary to be enrolled at
St Aloysius College.

Elaine met the Sisters while on a faith journey which led her from the Anglican Church to the Catholic Church and eventually to join the Adelaide Congregation. Elaine saw her calling to Catherine McAuley’s Mercy Community as building on the foundations of her work helping people as a social worker. On the day of her profession in the Goodwood Catholic Church, the Anglican Church across the road rang its bells at the time she was pronouncing her vows, in celebration and support.

These were the paths by which these Sisters first encountered the Sisters of Mercy.  For all the jubilarians, their initial connection led to working in a variety of places and diverse ministries including schools, universities, hospitals, children’s homes, refugee centres, neighbourhoods, on Marriage Tribunals as a Canon Lawyer, in board rooms, in counselling, spiritual direction, leading retreats and pastoral care. In these and so many other ways and places they both offered and received God’s mercy. The celebration was a wonderful opportunity to honour and give thanks for these women and their many years of service.

In his homily, Fr Shinnick quoted Pope Francis: ‘Totally consecrated to God, (Religious) are totally given over to their brethren, to carry the light of Christ there where the darkness is thickest and to spread his hope to hearts who are discouraged.’

“And that has been true of all of you celebrating a jubilee at this time,” Fr Shinnick said.

“So many ministries, so many places, so many years. At times you may have felt the darkness overwhelming you and have felt that hope was fading, but the spark of Christ’s light was always present in your hearts…So it has been that you were able to continue to accompany those who needed you. Needed you as a companion, a friend, a faith-filled and faithful Sister. Not lording it over others, but as true women of mercy.”

In proposing a ‘toast’ to the jubilarians, Sr Meredith Evans said, “I am deeply touched by the years of loving service (probably hundreds of years collectively) that each one of you have contributed to our world and our Church – locally, nationally, and internationally.  I call to mind so many aspects of your lives – your courage, generosity, hospitality, wisdom, creativity, perseverance and patience in the good times and probably more importantly in the tough times over those years. We are privileged to celebrate with each of you today your faithful loving service as women of Mercy and give thanks for the many blessings that have enriched your lives.”

Mary-Anne Duigan is a Sister of Mercy in Adelaide.



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