Sr Cate O’Brien, the Congregational Bursar and Councillor: “Normal was no more”

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On March 15, when I returned home to Melbourne from Council meetings in Sydney, little did I realize what I knew as normal was no more.

A few days later, we received a letter from the Congregational Leader,  Sr Clare Nolan, bringing to our awareness the restrictions placed upon all Australians due to the Coronavirus epidemic and reminding us that we came under the category of “the Vulnerable” because of our age.

As the weeks wore on in that first lockdown, I could see the effects this isolation was having on people. The deprivation of daily Mass was beginning to take its toll and I knew I had to do something to sort myself out as much as possible due to the uncertainty of Coronavirus.

If I accepted this uncertainty, I knew I would be in a better place to be of help for others.

I began to make a list each night of things to do the following day. With this simple task I could feel my spirits lifting.

I could still see Sisters struggling to coming to terms with the isolation, the endless queues outside Centrelink, the number of virus cases rising and the emotional responses of people who had lost their jobs and realised just how fortunate I am. I do not have to worry about losing my job, home schooling, paying rent, whether to turn on the heater or what will be my next meal.

In Melbourne, we have now been under restrictions for six months. At one stage, there was a glimmer of hope with the restrictions being eased slightly.  Weekday Masses resumed with only ten people booking in at the Parish Office.

With new outbreaks of the virus not long after Easter we moved into Stage 3 lockdown for six weeks. Just as the end was nearing, we were plunged into Stage 4 for six weeks which ended up being extended.

Visits to the Sisters in care were not permitted so contact was maintained through phone calls and Face Time.

Owing to being classed as a carer I was able to travel outside the five kilometre radius of home to shop for Sisters and deliver meals. Those were being cooked by Kate Luxford, the housekeeper at the Mononia Convent in Fitzroy, to those living singularly twice a week.

The moments I have felt best during this whole ordeal is when I found a way of doing something for someone else even if it was only something little.

Maybe it was because I missed the connection with people and for me that is the richest kind of connection we can have.

Image 1: Sister Cate
Image 2: Sr Cate takes part in a liturgy in Sydney meeting before COVID-19 upended normal life
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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