Sr Josephine at 100Print
Sr Josephine Cannell was counting down to Saturday, February 24, all year. She could tell you exactly how weeks the celebrations were away.
And then it arrived – or they arrived, because a birthday of this magnitude could not be contained in one celebration.
Many Sisters, friends and colleagues of Sr Josephine gathered at 2pm in the Brenan Hall of St Vincent’s Hospital Fitzroy for the Eucharistic celebration and afternoon tea for the first of several celebrations for Josephine on the occasion of her 100th birthday.
The main celebrant was Fr Zaher Mhanna, chaplain for the public and private hospitals. He was assisted by Fr Mal Crawford and Fr Peter Carrucan.
At the conclusion of Mass, the priests invited Sr Josephine to join them for the final blessing. Fr Zaher held Sr Jo’s hand in his own and they did the blessing together, with Fr Mal extending his hand above them both.
Afternoon tea followed. After Sr Jo cut the birthday cake, Sr Margaret Beirne gave the toast, identifying ways in which Jo had “grown in wisdom, age and grace” and concluding with a quote from a recent survey of Australian centenarians that is so true of Josephine: “Centenarians tend to focus on what they still have and can do, rather than what they no longer have nor are able to do.”
Josephine then responded, offering her deep gratitude to all those who had contributed to the occasion.
There was no rest for her after the party – Sr Jo was off to Tasmania for more celebrations the following Saturday.
As well as celebrating the third Sunday of Lent, the 8.30 Mass at Taroona on Sunday, March 3 also afforded a rather special opportunity for the parish family to mark a wonderful occasion.
Joined also by family and friends, Sister Jo was feted as a newly minted centenarian.
The Mass was concelebrated by Emeritus Archbishop Adrian Doyle and Fr Brian Nichols (PP of Sandy Bay), and their warm words on the life of service witnessed by this amazing woman were well-received by all in attendance.
The congregation was joined by a number of Sisters of Charity, women who have shared Josephine’s life journey.
At the morning tea after the Mass, Sister Jo was able to re-establish connection with those parishioners with whom she had forged a close bond during the many years she resided in Taroona.
Coming at the end of a week of celebrations in both Melbourne and Hobart, all who were present felt privileged to be associated with this gentle, committed and humble woman.
Sr Josephine has certainly triumphed over old age by keeping her heart unwrinkled and by maintaining a demeanour filled with hope, kindness, cheerfulness, and reverence
Another record in Sr Jo’s sights?
Now the oldest Sister of Charity of Australia, Sr Josephine is also the second longest-serving Sister of Charity. As of 26 February 2018, she has been admitted for 83 years 10 months and 20 days. From her profession date, the period is 81 years 1 month and 1 day.
Images: Sr Jo with Sr Cate O’Brien; Image 2: Sr Jo and Sr Liz Dodds; Image 3: Sr Jo with the Mass celebrants; Image 4: Sr Cathy Meese and Sr Jo; Images 5 and 6: Messages from the Queen and the Prime Minister. Image 7: Sr Jo flanked by Archbishop Adrian Doyle, Fr Nichols, Congregational Leader Sr Clare Nolam, and Srs Deirdre Hickey, Anne Turner, and Cathy Meese
To see more photographs from the celebrations for Sr Jo, go to our photo gallery.