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Three Sisters of Charity recognised by the Pope

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On a crisp early Autumn day, seven Sydney-siders were recognised for their contributions to the life of the Church and the community with Papal honours.

Ethicist Dr Bernadette Tobin and her husband, Terry Tobin QC, were made Dame and Knight Grand Cross of St Gregory the Great. Aboriginal leader, Dr Elsie Heiss, was created a Dame Commander of the same order. John Munce, chairman of Dooleys Lidcombe Catholic Club, was made a Knight of the Order of St Sylvester.

Congratulations to them all for all the marvellous work they have done for decades!

But the eyes of the Sisters of Charity of Australia were on the final three Papal honourees – Srs Sesarina Bau rsc, Jacinta Fong rsc, and Anthea Groves rsc.

  

The Sisters were each awarded the decoration of honour, the Holy Cross pro Ecclesia e Pontifice.  (The medal was established by Leo XIII on July 17, 1888, to commemorate his golden priestly jubilee and was originally bestowed on those men and women who had aided and promoted the jubilee, and by other means assisted in making the jubilee and the Vatican Exposition successful.It is currently conferred for distinguished service to the church by lay people and clergy. It is the highest medal that can be awarded to the laity by the Pope.)

The Sisters, who shared the day with their Sisters, friends, families, and other community members, were remembered by their referees:

• Sr Sesarina, who has ministered in the Intensive Care Unit of St Vincent’s in Darlinghurst, was remembered as a quiet and discreet support to families and staff, “noticed if she were absent.”

• Sr Jacinta, who wears the habit as she ministers in the Emergency Department at St Vincent’s, was “familiar as a little vision in a white habit, moving gently through the department.”

• Sr Anthea, who completed her 52 year plus ministry at St Vincent’s, where she was patient liaison officer, as a devoted daughter of Mary Aikenhead, focussed on the charism of the founder.

Sr Jacinta and Sr Sesarina were typically brief in their remarks, but Sr Anthea, in response, made the observation that ministries were not carried out in the prospect of honours.

“You feel you are doing something you love and you are committed to that. It’s a way of life,” she said.

  

Speaking after the service, Congregation Leader, Sr Clare Nolan, thanked the Pope and the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP, for the honours awarded to the Sisters of Charity, and the wonderful ceremony conducted by the Archdiocese of Sydney.

“This was such a beautiful morning, an occasion of grace, for all the honourees,” said Sr Clare. “And I know Mother Mary would be proud of her daughters in faith today, those who have been honoured, and those who minister without recognition.”

  

Image 1: Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP with Papal award recipients – Sr Jacinta Fong RSC, Sr Sesarina Bau RSC,  and Sr Anthea Groves RSC;  Image 2: Sr Jacinta, Sr Anthea, Sr Sesarina; Image 3: The Sisters of Charity with long-term friend and supporter, Mrs Ros Packer; Image 4: Congregational Leader Sr Clare Nolan with Dr Elsie Heiss; Image 5: Sr Jacinta with members of her family; Image 6: Sr Anthea with members of her family.

THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
When we have so much to praise the Lord for, we must not complain.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
True affection is to rejoice in the happiness of our dear ones. Never allow a sentiment of resentment to enter into our hearts.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
Pray, reflect and consult – and may the divine spirit direct all to God’s greater glory.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
May our dear Lord Jesus fill your hearts with His own love. Amen!
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
We must have patience with others as He has patience with us.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
Under every difficulty try to pray fervently.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
We have much to thank Him for, even for those little drawbacks on our comforts and conveniences.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
Do pray that justice may be accomplished in peace and that truth may prevail.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
Go on now as steadily as you can, relying on the Divine assistance and fear not.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
What we do ought to be done well.

The Sisters of Charity acknowledge the First Peoples and traditional custodians of this land where we live. We respect, value and honour their history, culture and spirituality. We are committed to standing in solidarity and to actively working for justice, peace and harmony in this land.

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