Homilies

70th anniversary of entry into religious life of Sr Kathleen Ryan NDS at St Catherine’s Hostel, Balwyn - Wednesday, 29 October 2014

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT CATHERINE’S HOSTEL, BALWYN, ON WEDNESDAY, 29TH OCTOBER 2014 AT 2.30 P.M., TO CELEBRATE THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF ENTRY INTO RELIGIOUS LIFE OF SISTER KATHLEEN RYAN, N.D.S.
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
Sister Kathleen has brought us here to thank God for his wonderful providence over the seventy years of her religious life, which has kept her as a faithful, gifted and articulate witness in the ministries in which she has been involved.

Since the foundation of the Order in 1843 by the Ratisbonne brothers, the Order’s purpose is:  'To witness in the Church and in the world that God continues to be faithful in his love for the Jewish people and to hasten the fulfilment of the promises concerning the Jews and the Gentiles.'

The story of the Order of course is quite remarkable.  Theodore Ratisbonne had been baptised in 1826 and was ordained a priest in 1830.  Alphonse, the other brother, was more reluctant to believe in Christ and in 1842 in the course of a trip to Rome, just prior to his planned wedding, he went to the church of Saint Andrea Delefrate, where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him.  Both Theodore and Alphonse believed that this was a sign from God, not only for Alphonse’s personal conversion, but of their common call to bring their fellow Jews to accept the Christian faith.

To this end, Alphonse was baptised and soon entered the Society of Jesus, where he spent several years.  In 1843 Theodore founded a small community of women who wished to collaborate with him in the education of Jewish children, starting with two Jewish sisters who had come to him for guidance and later converted to Christianity.

In 1850 Alphonse left the Society and together the two brothers established the Congregation of the Fathers of Our Lady of Sion in 1852. 

By 1855 Alphonse had moved to the Holy Land, where in 1958 he established the Convent of the Ecco Homo on the site of a ruined church of that name on the Via Dolorosa and this was entrusted to the Sisters.  There was an orphanage and a vocational school run by the Sisters; their Institutions were open to all children regardless of Creed.

For many years most of the Sisters were teachers in Sion schools in France and the Holy Land and later expanded to the British Isles and here in Australia.  The Sisters have been here since 1890.  In the wide of variety of ministries since the Second Vatican Council the Sisters describe themselves as working to improve Catholic/Jewish relations and to witness to God’s faithful love for the Jewish people.

Sister Kathleen has been a part of the strong educational endeavour in Sale and in Melbourne and for many years worked as a Sister in Saint Joseph’s Parish, West Brunswick, where I became parish priest in 1987.  Her experience in education, her gifted initiatives in caring for the aged people in Mount Royal Hospital, her work in the music and pastoral life of the parish stands as testimony to her prayer for the peace of Jerusalem and her example as a woman of God’s Church in faithfulness and love, serving where she was asked to serve.

Today Sisters of Our Lady of Sion are involved in many apostolates, including the Ecce Homo Convent in Jerusalem, the teaching of Scripture, Jewish/Christian dialogue and relationships, and the continuing work in education through their collaborators in Sion College, Box Hill.

As Archbishop, I pay tribute to the Sisters and I thank Sister Kathleen for her friendship and great personal kindness and service to me as a parish priest and prayerful support to me as Archbishop. 

Today we thank God for his purposes shown in Sister’s life, 'for he the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name'.

+ Denis J. Hart,

ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.

 
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