Last month, Our Lady's Nurses of the Poor came under the aegis of the Congregational Leader and Council of the Sisters of Charity of Australia. Sister Gaye Reynolds rsc writes about the ceremony to mark this event.
A special Eucharistic celebration and a ceremony of New Leadership took place on Saturday 1 July 2017, to formalise a new arrangement between the Congregations of Our Lady’s Nurses of the Poor and the Sisters of Charity of Australia. The community was grateful to have Bishop Anthony Randazzo as the Presider. Sisters from both congregations gathered in the Chapel of the Convent of Our Lady’s Nurses of the Poor to witness this historic event.
A votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary with appropriate readings and hymns was chosen. The Gospel reading was the Visitation and in his homily, Bishop Tony highlighted Mary’s actions and invited us to imitate her. Mary’s focus, he said, was on others and despite the hardships she endured to visit Elizabeth, she radiated joy. While there has been struggle and pain in coming to the important decision for this new beginning, it is a time of hope and joy for both congregations now.
Following the homily, Bishop Tony invited Sr Margaret Mary Birgan and Sr Clare Nolan to come forward for the ceremony of New Leadership. He addressed Sr Margaret Mary: “Margaret Mary, you and your Sisters have formally decided at your Chapter to accept the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Charity of Australia as your new Congregational Leader, responsible for governance, administration and pastoral care. Do you now confirm this decision and its formalisation today?” Margaret Mary answered: “We do.”
Bishop Tony then addressed Sr Clare: “Clare, you and your Council have agreed to the request by Our Lady’s Nurses of the Poor to become their Congregational Leader responsible for governance, administration and pastoral care. Do you confirm this decision and its formalisation today?” Clare said: “We do.” Bishop Tony prayed: “May God bless this new relationship abundantly and bring about great graces for all concerned, for the glory of God and the good of the whole Church.” Both sisters signed the official agreements.
At the end of Mass, Sr Clare offered special thanks to Bishop Tony and all who had supported hers and the Council through prayer and discernment to take this significant step. She said that both Foundresses, Eileen O’Connor and Mary Aikenhead, were women of great faith and trust and it was our desire to walk in that same faith – to “set the world on fire!”
As Sr Clare concluded her thanks, Sr Margaret Mary came forward and presented her with a magnificent arrangement of flowers. Sr Margaret Mary too, expressed her thanks to Sr Clare, Bishop Tony and all who had assisted in helping them reach this undertaking. She said that the precious seed had been planted and will now be nurtured with hope and trust.
All enjoyed afternoon tea following Mass. There was a buzz of excitement among us as we enjoyed one another’s company. As we said our goodbyes, the words of the final prayer resonated – “Like Mary, may we be Christ-bearers to your world and so enable the growth of your kingdom of justice, peace and love.”