Words of Remembrance:  Sr Sesarina Bau


June 6, 1934 – November 3, 2020

Motto: Through the cross to light


November 11, 2020

The Mother of Mercy Chapel, Rookwood, Sydney

Reflecting on Ses’ life and her journey of 86 years and my involvement in it I saw what an amazing and unique story it was. Ses was born in 1934 in Fiji and at a young age she came into our Sisters of Charity lives. She was known as Sr Francis Xavier, a Sister of Our Lady of Nazareth.  She came to Australia along with other Sisters of Our Lady of Nazareth whom we came to know and love.

Ses did her secondary education at the Presentation Sisters College at Windsor in Melbourne in 1959.

Following that Ses came to Sydney and commenced her Nurse Training at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. Following her graduation, Ses went to St Vincent’s Hospital, Toowoomba where she did her midwifery training.

She then returned to Sydney and did her Tresillian training (care of young mothers). She was now the ‘whole package’ and ready to continue her mission back in Fiji.

But Ses did not settle back in Fiji and she sought permission to enter the Sisters of Charity and permission came from Rome in August, 1967. She entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of Charity in January, 1968. Following her Religious Profession, Ses was missioned to St Joseph’s Hospital, Auburn. I was a young Sister and Mother St Agnes felt it would be good for us to be in ministry there supporting each other. And so our friendship began.

There were occasions we were summoned to the Superior Generals’ office or the local community leader’s office to account for our actions. On these occasions Ses was always direct and clear in her reasoning.  Fifty years later I heard Ses sharing these stories with a Leader in one of our facilities. She was mentoring him about standing up for his beliefs and being true to who he is. Ses could say in a few words what it might take someone else to write a paper about!


Following my Final Vows, I was allowed to go home to Queensland. While I was planning to go home, my Superior said I was to take Ses with me. I was a bit surprised, so I wrote to my mother and informed her of our extra guest. Mum’s reply was you come home and stay with me and Ses can stay with Aunty Joan and Uncle Merv. My family loved her, and she became part of the family. My nieces and, nephews and cousins have all sent memories of Ses.

In talking about families:  Ses belonged to so many. She endeared herself to them all and the love was reciprocal. The Beswicks – Judy Lynch, a Beswick, was written down as Ses’ adopted family and her next of kin. Ses loved and appreciated the support of her family in Fiji and felt so proud to share both her Aussie and Fijian families.

Ses’ ministry spanning 50 years was in the Healing Ministry of Christ. She put her nurse training to good use and to do that, there was no place like St Vincent’s Sydney.

Ses saw the Florence Nightingale Pledge as her spirituality for Nursing and it stood visible beside her Vows. “With loyalty… I will devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.”

She was very proud of her time with the St Vincent’s Curran Foundation. Charles Curran wrote this lovely tribute “We are all greatly saddened by the passing of dear Sr Ses. Sr Ses was so proud of being a Sister of Charity and she made an outstanding contribution to the work of the Sisters over many, many decades. In the 80’s Ses went as a Volunteer with the Red Cross to Thailand/Kampuchea. There she cared for refugees especially little babies and children.

Sadness came to Ses during her time on mission in Kampuchea. Her mother died. It was too far to fly to Fiji, so she remained in Bangkok mourning for four days. It was so tough for Ses seeing her family go before her. Our hearts ached for her as each separation happened. Each time she came home, we, the Sisters of Charity, would share the toll it took on her.

One of the most memorable times for us was to be present with Ses, Anthea, and Jacinta when they received special Papal Awards conferred for distinguished service to the Church by lay people and clergy. It was the highest medal awarded to laity by the Pope.

Ses was not feeling 100% but she managed to rise to the occasion, giving a magnificent speech and loved the celebration with family and friends. It was such a beautiful morning, and we were proud of her.

In June, 2018 Ses agreed to go to St Vincent’s Care, Edgecliff. Within weeks she had settled in and was giving me instructions. “Clare,” she would say, “this is my home! We need to paint the balcony, get a better chair.”  I think Ses felt her mentoring continued. Always giving speeches and the doctors and nurses told me that everyone listened, even the residents.

Then came the time for her to go home and say goodbye to family. Many offered to accompany her; however, I was the chosen one. It was my joy and privilege to accompany her on her final journey home. The family shared with me that they were nervous because the “boss” was coming. The time with Ses was precious to all. She spoke in Fijian most of the time.

She shared stories she had never shared before, stories of her boyfriends before entering, her Dad and his public upset with her when she came to Australia and his disowning of her.

In God’s grace, there was healing before he died. Stories of her mother and siblings – we would just sit around sharing with all who came to visit. We had two special celebrations:  Christmas Mass and a farewell Mass.

On both occasions, Ses gathered the young ones in their best clothes. She taught them hymns and harmony and like magic a choir from heaven was formed. Marie’s cousin, Fr Asaeli Raass SVD celebrated the farewell Mass. You cannot imagine how I felt when Fr Raass was able to be with us at the celebration of Ses’ mighty life today.  Ses gave a speech in Fijian. The family wanted me to respond but I had no idea what she said!

Goodbye seemed a celebration for Ses but for us it was sad and tearful. Ses said her goodbye from her heart. She expressed her love for them all and called them her treasured people and family. “But now I must go back to my sisters because this is my life. I am a Sister of Charity and I am here with Clare which means everything to me,” she said. The dancing and celebration continued after Mass. I was sad and restless going to bed and was wondering how Ses was – she was sound asleep.

We left early next morning saying our farewell to those who gathered along the way. There was lunch and Ses shouted, waving American Dollars. We then went to the airport and home to Sydney. On arrival at St Vincent’s Care, the nursing staff was wonderful in settling her.

At this stage, her phone became her lifeline. Her community was faithful to her over the two years and five months Ses was in care. Her dear friend, Sr Jacinta Fong, continued to spoil her in every way. Sr Anthea Groves and Marian Rudge were her carers; Sr Dorothy Bayliss expressed her love for Ses who was so kind to her sick mother when Dorothy was on overseas mission.

Her family here in Australia Meresiana, Charlie, Katarina, Tirana, Isabella, Cecilia, and Elia were her support. She had a meal with them and spoke to Marie and Bill the Saturday before she went into palliative care.

To meet Ses is never to forget her. Another condolence said it all: “I just saw your note about Sr Ses’ passing in which you note ‘we will miss her joyful spirit.’ I could not think of anything more true. In some of my darkest times on the Campus, Sr Ses was always someone who lifted the situation with her extraordinary warmth and caring. She was never shy in telling me to lighten up if I was taking myself too seriously. “

Ses celebrated her Golden Jubilee this year and it was a celebration for which she longed. She had been on this journey of Religious Life since 1972. On her Profession Day she chose the motto THROUGH THE CROSS TO LIGHT. Ses would have walked with many sick people through their darkness to light. And Pope Francis encourages us all to renew our initial call and allow Gospel joy to fill our heart. Ses did exactly that.

Ses was in Palliative Care for eight days and cared for magnificently by doctors and nurses. Ses died peacefully in their care and Deirdre and I were there as she took her last breath. We will miss you, dear Ses.

These closing words sum up Ses’ presence in our lives: “Some people come into our lives and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never the same.” (Flavia Weedn)

You will find Sr Ses’ Requiem Mass here.

  • Clare Nolan RSC

Congregational Leader                                                                                                                                                                                                              

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