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VASCA continued the charism of the Sisters

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Sr Mark Lehmann (left), vocations director of the Sisters of Charity between 1971 and 1979, noted the Vatican II effect on new vocations.

In 2007, she wrote: “It was just after Vatican II and Religious Orders were more interested in updating rather than encouraging new vocations.”

Sr Mark noted the work of the Theresians (see KIT December 2019), at that time dying out, a lay group founded by the Sisters of Charity in 1917 and who were, at that stage, dying out. The Theresians finally disbanded in 1998.

The Theresians had, however, been noted for their loyalty and zeal. These were the qualities Sr Mark wanted for a new lay group of the Sisters of Charity. In 1997, Sr Mark was given permission by Mother Marion Corless to begin the new group – the Volunteer Associates of the Sisters of Charity of Australia (VASCA).

The aim was to include members of all ages, faith affiliations, and socio-economic groups to further the ministry of the Sisters of Charity, whose charism and fourth vow is service of the poor. Members were drawn from the local community where VASCA was established – at the old St Marys Commercial College in Sydney’s Paddington – and from among other friends, supporters, and ex-students of the Sisters.

The ministries included outreach to the aged, lonely, disabled, and bereaved, and demonstrated the charism of the Sisters to women who might, in fact, be discerning a vocation.

It was registered as a charity in 1980, expanded to St Ambrose’s Parish in Sydney’s west, and there were plans to expand to Melbourne.

However, by 1996, VASCA in Sydney’s east became integral to the new service, Outreach, which was established at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney’s Darlinghurst. Outreach has now been rebranded Open Support.

Images — 1:  Sr Mark Lehmann with a man from Vasca assisting an elderly woman in Paddington NSW, 1990s;
2: Sr M Baptist Whyte with her “VASCA” sewing group at Paddington, enjoying their Christmas party, 1985

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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