The many threads of Sr Elizabeth Costigan’s lifePrint
November 16, 1936 – November 26, 2021
Mass of Christian Burial at St Theresa’s Essendon on Monday, December 6 at 10:30am.
Motto: “He must increase, I must decrease” – John 3: 30
Where to begin? Imagine if you will, a rich tapestry, with colourful textured threads woven into a beautiful work of art. The weaving of the tapestry takes time, patience, skill, and trust! Each of us is a thread. We are grateful to be a part of the rich tapestry of her life.
The first thread for me was picked out more than 60 years ago when Liz taught me, known in those days as Sr M. St Michael. It was her first teaching appointment after her novitiate training in Sydney. We did in later years laugh about how, according to her recollections, she had to wing it a bit. I didn’t mind her winging it as to me she was a wonderful, caring teacher. In my little girl eyes, there was something special about this Sister and our connection has endured and grown over all these decades. We have shared pain, joy searching, frustration and deep spirituality, along with many laughs.
Today in the Gospel we will hear Liz’s motto proclaimed, He must increase, I must decrease.
I’m sure that, be you family, Sister of Charity, friend, colleague, companion, or acquaintance, you will have experienced this motto brought to life in her. God was her deep centre, the one whom she brought to life in her selflessness, in the way she companioned and in her essence as a Sister of Charity.
Let me share some of the threads which are significant for me.
The thread of Liz’s family
We are grateful to Anne and Barry for their words and special family memories.
The thread of our Congregation
As a much-loved member of our Congregation, Liz was missioned to a variety of roles. For many years, she was assigned to several primary schools in both Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra. These roles were as teacher, executive member, parent liaison, and Principal including here at St Therese’s at one time. The threads from these times in her life would often re-appear and bring her great joy.
Liz was asked to take on the responsibility for training our novices and this she did for three years. Guided by her motto, He must increase I must decrease, Liz gave herself to this role with her trademark generosity, fidelity, and prayerfulness. These were not easy years for Liz, but her faith was strong, and she was grateful that God was able to work through her.
The thread of parish and pastoral life
She ministered at Northcote and at Corpus Christi parish Glenroy as pastoral associate with Fr Ray Deal, whom Liz admired and supported until his death. She loved her work in the parish and at this time her pastoral and interpersonal skills grew even more as she immersed herself into the life of the parish community, once again focussed on God must increase, and she must decrease.
The thread of Spiritual Direction/Companion
Liz was a local community leader at various times and was elected to our Congregational Leadership in 1996. At the end of 2002 when Liz concluded her time on our Council, Liz did a year of renewal at Heart of Life Centre where she completed her training as a Spiritual Director, a ministry she loved and exercised until very recently when she moved into the Mononia convent at Fitzroy.
Liz loved her ministry and involvement with the Companions here in Melbourne. She would often refer to her gatherings and the support she received from the group and was so impressed with the level of your trust and sharing. You gave her great joy, thank you!
The thread of Catholic Ladies College
Another hugely significant role for Liz was her time at Catholic Ladies College Eltham where she used her natural networking capacity to develop relationships of support and encouragement with the students, staff and executive, parents and the wider college community.
As a proud ex-student of CLC, I think Liz would be pleased with the CLC tapestry threads which are so well represented here today.
The Thread of Friendship
Liz made friends easily with her warmth and graciousness. Thus, she had lots of friends in many places. Each person was special to Liz who never forgot a birthday or significant occasion.
The thread of Liz’s Social Life
Liz loved going out for coffee. It gave her the opportunity to catch up with lots and lots of people, many of you being present today! In recent months that became less available to her and the lockdowns last year and this, denied her the opportunity to socialize in this way. However, she did love catching up on the phone and this kept her connected in some small way.
The thread of your special relationship with Liz
Please just take a moment to identify, hold, and appreciate the thread of your special relationship with Liz.
I think Liz has some special words of encouragement and support for us contained in the reading from Philippians this morning. St Paul wrote them, but just imagine Liz speaking them this morning: “My prayer is that your love and gratitude may overflow, more and more with deepening understanding and full insight, so that you can always recognise what is best.”
Thank you so much Liz. Rest in peace!
- Laureen Dixon rsc
Image 1: Sr Elizabet Costigan. Photogaph by Tim Bauer
Image 2: Sr Elizabeth with Sr Suzette Clark
Image 3: Sr Elizabeth