Sisters of Mercy celebrate Diamond Jubilee16 May, 2023
Family, friends and Sisters of Mercy gathered on Saturday 29 April 2023 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of four members, namely Sisters Beryl Amedee and Mary Badger who were professed on 15 December 1962; Sisters Rita Connor and Margaret Graves who were professed on 21 December 1963. Sr Anne Keim (Community Leader, North Qld) formally welcomed guests to the luncheon at the Rockhampton Leagues and Fr Frank Gilbert led the Grace before Meals.
During the celebrations, the four Jubilarians were honoured with a fitting tribute and the cutting of a Jubilee cake. Later that day, the Sisters and their guests gathered with Bishop Michael McCarthy and the parish community in St Joseph’s Cathedral for the celebration of Eucharist at which the Jubilarians renewed their vows together with the other Sisters of Mercy who were present.
On their First Profession Day, Sisters Beryl, Mary, Rita and Margaret publicly declared their intent to follow Jesus and to live as vowed women religious in the example of our founder, Catherine McAuley. As Sisters of Mercy, these women have been involved in a variety of ministries as outlined in the tribute. Though each Sister has lived her call to discipleship in her own unique way, on the occasion of their Jubilee, they shared a depth of gratitude to God for countless blessings received over the years.
We offer a sincere and heartfelt ‘Congratulations’ to Beryl, Mary, Rita and Margaret whose gifts have enriched the lives of many people in our Diocese and beyond, in the places where they have witnessed to Gospel values and a Mercy way of life.
Sr Joanne Molloy rsm
The following Tribute was given by Sr Joanne at the Celebration.
Good afternoon, everyone:
On behalf of our Mercy community, it is a privilege to honour our Diamond Jubilarians: Beryl and Mary professed on 15 December 1962; Rita and Marg professed on 21 December 1963.
I know that today, Rita and Margaret are mindful of their two Novitiate companions, Joan Shepherd and Rose Cavallo. We celebrated Joan’s jubilee last month with Geraldine and Carmel. Rose’s sudden death back on 20 July 2017 was a cause of great sadness for us all. Today we remember Rose with deep affection. You’d agree the image described by the prophet Isaiah, helps us to picture Rose, enjoying that eternal banquet of rich food (hopefully, with an Italian flavour, of course). The ‘Rose’ we knew would want us to celebrate well and be happy. To us, she was ‘Rosie’ by nature, as well as by name.
On this occasion, how does one adequately capture the unique contribution, the influence, the life journey of each Jubilarian in this short time? I decided that we would start at the very beginning by acknowledging and honouring your family of origin – your parents who loved you into life, together with your families who have nurtured and supported you over the years. Some of your loved ones have died, others are with us today so let’s take a moment to honour and remember with gratitude:
- Beryl’s parents, Horrie and Martha, her sister Joan, brothers Bob and Ray
- Mary’s parents, Vince and Kit, her brothers Max and John
- Rita’s parents, Jack and Nell, her brothers John and Noel
- Marg’s parents, Victor and Ann, her brother Neville
More than sixty years ago, in your youth, you entered the Sisters of Mercy. This momentous step was just the beginning of a soul shifting experience that opened an entirely new way of life for each of you, a way of life that continually calls you to prayer, to reflection and to action. It’s a way of life where witnessing to Gospel values and the works of Mercy is non-negotiable. Time and again, your lives have been shaped and re-shaped by varied experiences: achievements, struggles, joys, sadness, sickness, vulnerability, hopes and dreams: your commitment nourished and sustained by God’s constant and compassionate love.
Another momentous event of sixty years ago was the second Vatican Council, which had a huge impact on the Church and its mission, which includes all of us. Our local Bishop of that time, Bishop Francis Rush, with his first-hand experience of attending the sessions in Rome, made sure we were well-informed and steeped in the theology, and the reforms of Vatican II. Religious Congregations were urged to reclaim the spirit, or the charism, of their respective founders and this we did, led by a succession of wise and courageous Mercy women.
At the core of our Mercy charism is Catherine McAuley’s instruction to the Sisters. She said: ‘We should be shining lamps, giving light to all around us.’ How we might be that ‘shining lamp’, how we might be ‘Mercy’ in an ever-changing world is always central to our lives.
Marg, Rita, Mary and Beryl: for these past sixty years, in the spirit of Catherine, you have been that ‘shining lamp’: through your personal faith, your giftedness, your commitment to the works of Mercy and the God life that you have brought to our own community, and to so many people. Today, we take the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ (and I’ll begin with the junior of the group):
Marg, you have been that ‘shining lamp’ in West Mackay, Sarina, St Patrick’s (Mackay), North Mackay, Barcaldine, North Rockhampton, South Mackay, Our Lady’s (Rockhampton), in Darwin, at our local TAFE College and Central Queensland University; giving light to all around you as a teacher, Resource Centre supervisor, tutor of Adult Migrants, CWL member and now resident of McAuley Place. Marg, we honour your life-time of teaching, your ability to learn new skills, your commitment to justice issues and your way of supporting and walking with newcomers to our country. Thank you, Marg!
Rita, you have been that ‘shining lamp’ in Rockhampton, Gladstone, South Mackay, Brisbane, Neerkol and Barcaldine; giving light to all around you as teacher in our primary and secondary schools, founding-member of what is now Chanel College, your skilled attention to children with special needs, in Adult Faith Education, parish work, in State Schools, and now as resident of The Range Village. Rita, we honour your deep love of country, your untiring, unswerving dedication to various ministries, especially your long-standing commitment to the people of the Central West. Thank you, Rita!
Mary, you have been that ‘shining lamp’ in West Mackay, Walkerston, Biloela, St Patrick’s (Mackay), Moura, Rockhampton, and Bundaberg; giving light to all around you as teacher, principal, boarding supervisor at both St Pat’s and the Range, Parish Worker in Moura and Bundaberg, and your Secretarial Assistance to our administration. Mary, we honour your careful stewardship of our resources; your quiet, unassuming, efficient, creative and thoughtful ways of ministering to us, your Sisters, and to so many other people you’ve met and befriended along the way. Thank you, Mary!
Beryl, you have been that ‘shining lamp’ in Marian, Sarina, Gladstone, Yangoru, Mackay, Brisbane, Bundaberg and Rockhampton; giving light to all around you in our primary and secondary schools, as Diocesan Religious Education Coordinator, McAuley Teachers College staff member, parish worker, Leadership Team member, Mission Director at Mercy Health & Aged Care CQ, Coordinator of our Mercy Associates, in Ecumenical and Inter-faith dialogue, and now as resident of McAuley Place. Beryl, we honour your enthusiastic, passionate dedication to every task you undertake and the strong community links you have forged. Thank you, Beryl!
In conclusion, we say a collective ‘Well done’. We offer each one of you our sincere congratulations and wish you every blessing. Catherine McAuley’s challenging advice still holds true – continue to be that shining lamp, shedding light to those around you, witnessing to God’s love as Women of Mercy, for whom life is full of hope, of meaning, and of purpose. Thank you!
Joanne Molloy RSM
29 April 2023