MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART FOR THE JUBILEES OF SISTERS OF SAINT JOSEPH AT OUR LADY’S CHURCH, MAIDSTONE, ON SATURDAY 23 FEBRUARY 2008 AT 2PM.
My dear Friends,
With great thankfulness to God I am delighted to be with Sister Anne Tuck, with our Sisters Jubilarians, and with all of you as we come humbly into the presence of our God, thanking him for the grace-filled lives of the Jubilarians.
Together with them we marvel at the wonder of God’s providence in calling them to religious life and in the gifts given for their service of God and the Church.
These Sisters have followed to places and situations not foreseen because of their total entrustment to Christ and of all that he has given.
As we call to mind our sins and in Lent remember that each of us is called to be made new in the life of grace, let us remember these Sisters with esteem and joy.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Each of us is honoured to be here and to share for some brief time an understanding of the words of the Lord: “Come, follow me”, so well illustrated in the lives of the Sisters for whom we thank God today.
The awesome encounter of the Religious vowed to chastity, poverty and obedience is a generous and loving personal entrustment to Christ and a committed life to walk with him for the salvation of the world. Indeed, the words used at the beginning of the new Rite of Religious Profession, when the person to be professed responds: “Here I am, Lord, you have called me”, is an awareness that religious life is always a following of the Lord’s plan and designs for our life.
The particular Josephite charism is borne out by two things relating to Blessed Mary McKillop, your Foundress. The words of Cardinal Moran at her funeral: “They that instruct many unto justice shall shine as the stars for all eternity” from the Book of Daniel and also the personal recognition given of the human virtues of Mary MacKillop in the official decree of her beatification.
“Mary MacKillop’s public achievement is an historical fact in Australia, but for those who knew her personally the most striking thing about her was her kindness. She was a great believer in encouragement urging people to be kind and united. In everything she said or did she showed respect and love for those around her making no distinction between the rich, the high born and the influential on the one hand, and the lowly, the jailbirds and the outcasts of society on the other.”
Celebration of jubilees is of course a time of remembering, rejoicing and renewing the commitment to Christ and to the Church, which is made. Both things go hand in hand. Jesus own words: “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full are a reminder of the mission given by Jesus to each Sister on the day of her profession and which has been fulfilled with distinction in the lives of these Sisters over so many years in the parishes and communities of our Victorian Dioceses.
That is why I emphasise that a commitment to Christ is an equal commitment to the Church, to the Eucharist as the central part of the Church’s life, and to the people of God. Indeed, in your Foundresses we see a constant and lively sense of the Church and in ready obedience especially to the Pope. In her daughterly outspokenness Saint Catherine of Siena called the Pope: “sweet Christ on earth”, while Teresa of Avila said: “I am a daughter of the Church”, there is also a remarkable similarity between the passage I have quoted speaking of the kindness of Blessed Mary MacKillop and these words of Saint Teresa: “In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be love