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Monday, 17 November 2014 22:19

Sion Sister's gold jubilee

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Sr Mary Lotton nds150Sister Mary Lotton nds has come full circle in her 50th year as a Sister of Our Lady of Sion in the Diocese of Sale, Victoria. Colin Coomber writes about the roots of her vocation and her passion for Jewish-Christian relations, a cornerstone of the Sion charism.

Fifty years as a professed Sister of Our Lady of Sion was celebrated by Sr Mary Lotton on October 7.

Fr Peter Bickley celebrated Mass in the historic Sion chapel where the jubilarian was surrounded by fellow sisters, her extended family and friends.

It was fitting that Sr Mary’s celebrations be back in Sale where she attended secondary school and entered the novitiate.

She grew up in the bush at the family farm at Munro and attended primary school there but when it came for her to enter form one, he father bought a home in Sale close to Our Lady of Sion College so his three girls could attend the school.

Her elder sisters had been boarders at Sion but now it was their father who made the daily treks to the farm and back.

After leaving school Sr Mary worked briefly for Sale solicitor Bob Rolland and then real estate and insurance agent Ern Ronchi.

Ronchi was an agent for Victorian Insurance Company and she went to Melbourne to work for that company before returning to Sale in August 1962 to enter the novitiate.

She was professed on October 3, 1964 and took the name Sr Evangelist, after a late Sion Sister who had instructed her Presbyterian mother on the Catholic faith prior to her parents marrying.

Several years later, she and most of the sisters, reverted to their real names in the changes brought about by Vatican 2.

Her early life as a Sion Sister was spent teaching in Melbourne and most of her religious life she has been in Melbourne where she has been heavily involved in Jewish-Christian relations, a cornerstone of the Sion charism.

She returned to Sale in 1971 to spend a year as principal at the rapidly growing St Thomas’s Primary School.

Following that she had the opportunity to go to Rome as secretary of the Our Lady of Sion Secretary General and it was here that her love for dialogue with the Jewish faith really took hold.

Strong connections with the Centre for Jewish-Christian Dialogue, whet her appetite for more and she took the opportunity to go on to Jerusalem for 18 months to study Judaism.

She then returned to Melbourne and has spent many years working closely with Jewish dialogue in various capacities.

She spent 11 years as secretary to the Council of Christians and Jews (Victoria).

After Mass Fr Peter Bickley presented her with a framed map of Galilee to recognise her strong ties with the region and the people to whom Jesus preached.

Speakers at the afternoon tea included Sr Mary’s cousin Fred Lotton, Munro, and Sr Patrica Watson nds

She was joined by her sister Margery Canny, Maffra, to cut the jubilee cake and was toasted by guests with a nip of champagne.

This article by Colin Coomber was first published in the October 2014 issue of Catholic Life, the official newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Sale.