‘This is the Day the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad!’
31st December 2013 was a very special day in the life of our sister Congregation in Australia – it marked the 175th anniversary of the first five women religious arriving on the shores of Australia – they were Sisters of Charity sent from Ireland by Mary Aikenhead. Here the sisters tell us about their special year.
On Tuesday December 31 all the Australian Sisters gathered in Potts Point and Auburn [NSW}, Kew and Clayton [Victoria], Brisbane [Qld], Taroona [Tasmania] and the other places where our Sisters are, to celebrate with joy and thanksgiving the arrival of the first five women religious in Australia. What a journey it has been for each of us and for all those wonderful women who have preceded us – times of joy, great difficulties, times of courage and foresight, times of challenge and disappointment and frustration, times of trust underpinned by a firm belief in Divine Providence and above all each day impelled by Christ’s love in our service to the poor. Let us pray for each other as we give thanks for the courage, determination, and fidelity to the Ignatian Rule of life imaged in the lives of Margaret John Cahill, Alicia John Baptist de Lacey, Catherine Francis de Sales O’Brien, Julia Lawrence Cater, and Eliza Francis Xavier Williams.
The celebrations began with a Liturgy of Thanksgiving for these five magnificent women who encapsulated so powerfully our charism of serving the poor and for their unswerving loyalty to the Constitutions given them by Mary Aikenhead in spite of the ecclesiastical bullying to adopt Benedictine Rule. Following on from the Liturgical Celebration the day of rejoicing and thanksgiving continue with a special luncheon in each place and concluded with the launching of the magnificent DVD “Five Sisters”. Our special guests at the Potts Point celebrations were Sr Mary Christian, Leader of our Founding Congregation and Sr Phyllis Behan, the Irish Provincial.
In the following months there will be special celebrations held in each State. The first will be held in Melbourne on 22 March 2014 to be followed by Parramatta on 5 April 2014 – the date closest to the day when Eliza Francis Xavier Williams pronounced her Vows. The Parramatta celebration is of great significance to the Australian Sisters because it is taking place in the Church where SM Xavier Williams became the first Religious in Australia to pronounce Vows. Following on from the Parramatta celebration will be Brisbane’s celebration on May31st. Of special interest will be the celebration in Hobart on 22 June in the Church where MM John Cahill, SM de Sales O’Brien and SM Xavier Williams worshipped every day for the rest of their lives. The final celebration for the year will be held in St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney on 14 August.
Click HERE to see the Photo Gallery.
Click HERE to view the Thanksgiving Liturgy at Potts Point.