In Advent 2007, Mother Abbess led us to reflect on a number of challenging
realities, one of which was that “our heartbeat is the heart of the world”.
What happens in our world happens in our hearts, and we were called again
to create in our Abbey a place of peace, hIealing and welcome for all people.
We were asked to make choices for life, life in Christ. A further challenge
was offered during the third week of Advent, when Mother Abbess
quoted the Papal Encyclical Spe Salvi:
…real life, towards which we try to reach out again and again, is linked
to a lived union with a ’people’, and for each individual it can only be
attained within this ‘we’. It presupposes that we escape from the prison
of the ‘I’ because only in the openness of this universal subject does our
gaze open out to the source of joy, to love itself – to God.
The message of the gospel for Gaudete Sunday was the call for
‘I’ to give way to the ‘we’:
“The blind see: How often has it happened …that we have not known the
way, and someone has come along and removed the veil of blindness,
helping us see clearly again by an act of kindness, compassion and love?
The lame learn to walk: How often do we find it hard to keep going?
Then someone will come and carry our burden for us.
The lepers are cleansed: What about the days when we have felt like
an outcast, misunderstood, criticized, and someone has reached out to us,
touched us with a word of kindness?
The deaf hear: What a gift it is when after many years of deafness
through withdrawal, hurt and emotional pain, we suddenly hear the gentle
sounds of loving, positive and caring words…
The dead are raised to life: There are times when we all feel that the
very life has gone out of us…and then someone raises us to new life
with a smile, words of appreciation.
The Good News is proclaimed to the poor: what a gift we can be for one
another and give to each other when we proclaim good news, when we lift
up, when we affirm…”
Christmas , and the days after Christmas were busy for Sr. Julianah and
Sr. Joanna, as they prepared to depart for Rome, to begin their course in
Benedictine Studies with Sr Aquinata Bockmann. While away, both sisters
had time for brief visits to family. Sr. Julianah went to Holland to her
uncle, aunt and cousins. Sr. Joanna, to her sister and brother-in-law,
in France. Sr. Magdalen left Australia on February 28, to attend the
Benedictine Formators’ Course in Rome. Srs. Julianah, Joanna and
Magdalen shared the fruits of their study with all of us at a morning seminar,
“Jamberoo Symposium”, later in the year, on Saturday, 20 th September.
Our New Year’s Eve the Prayer Vigil took place, as it had done, since
the dawn of the new millennium. We held our brothers and sisters
throughout the world in the heart of prayer that night, as we watched
and prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, and celebrated the three
nocturns of the Vigil, ending with Lauds and the first Mass of the
Calendar year. Thank you to all who joined us in prayer that night.
On New Year’s Day, we met in the evening, with our chaplain Fr Paul,
for a New Year’s celebration. We sang and danced until 9.00 p.m.
No – not the whole night! Sr. Carmen, at 85, did not hesitate to show
us how to really dance, as only the Spanish can! Our sisters in the
Novitiate prepared entertainment – in fact, there was no shortage of
items that night. And it was all free.
On January 15, we had a visit from Fr. Daniel, of the Congregation of
the Holy Spirit. Oblates Vince and Margaret Cappetta, (of Narrabeen),
brought Fr. Daniel to meet our community and to begin what we hope
is a long friendship. Fr. Daniel celebrated Mass with Fr. Paul, shared
afterwards his life, his response to the call of God to be a priest. And he
taught us to sing in his own language.
Australia Day celebrations were held in full this year, beginning with our
own “home-grown” monastic liturgy for the day (composed by Sr Hildegard).
Our friends Bishop Benjamin and Karel Duivenvoorden were here from
Brisbane. A costume parade set the right atmosphere, with many periods of
Colonial and post-colonial history represented: Present were: Caroline Chisholm, a Convict, a Swaggie, Ned Kelly (should he have been present?), a Red-Coat, Ginger Megs, a Wench, a genuine Australian product made elsewhere, packaged elsewhere and imported for genuine Australians.
Our Australia Day Hymn and Canticle were used again for the day of the year, - Reconciliation Australia – Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, apologises to the stolen generations. (February 13, 2008) This was a day which made us proud to be Australian.
We are privileged to hold in trust, in our Heritage Centre, the Deed Box of John Hubert Plunkett, who was Attorney-General under Governor Gipps, and
instrumental in having the Law changed in favour of our Indigenous peoples
after the Myall Creek Massacre in 1838. The spirit of the day continued on
through the year, and the Indigenous Ceremony to welcome our Pope in July
was a statement which reflected a new era in our history.
With Lent beginning on February 8, we journeyed quickly through the Liturgical Year, and some of us found it a little jarring. We are helped by the fact these “hurried” dates which resulted in “hurried” arrivals of Lent, Easter, and Pentecost may not occur again for 100 years.
After Easter we headed for World Youth Day. Our first commitment to
World Youth Day was the reception of the World Youth Cross and Icon
on 30 th – 31 st March. We had a night vigil in our monastic church,
and our bishop, Peter Ingham, celebrated Mass at 5.30 a.m. on April 1.
We are grateful to Fr. Paul, Sr. Hilda, and our Jamberoo Catholic community
for all the preparation and execution of this event in the history of our community.
We thank Douglas and Christine Pitman who cleaned the “Great” Organ
during this year. Sr. Hildegard had the privilege of working with them.
The Pipe Organ was installed in 1989, so there was a build up of dust over
19 years. Douglas and Christine, as friends of our community, tune and maintain our Pipe Organ as a gesture of the friendship they value so much,
and because of their love for God and for Sacred Music.
Sunday, April 27, saw the beginning of many meetings in preparation for World Youth Day 08. Our Cottage Retreats continued and our groups of Seniors who came now and then for a Tour of our church, and an Organ Recital. Our archivist and organist has taken on this work with great joy, and Sr. Benedetta is warmly welcoming and excels in Benedictine hospitality towards these groups and so many other groups who come to the Abbey seeking God and some space to be with God.
World Youth Day was a faith event for us, as it surely was for all Christians.
Many of our sisters were involved actively in the week leading up to the
arrival of Pope Benedict XVI. Some sisters took part in the Diocesan events,
and in the Vocations’ display at Darling Harbour. Some sisters sold our Craft products, and others met with monastic representatives from other Benedictine communities of Australia, spending time together in praise and worship, in mutual sharing and in the powerful spirit which was tangibly present. Many of our Oblates also shared the joyful labour of preparing for the arrival of the Pope. With the visit of our Pope, and the events of this World Youth gathering, we can only be grateful
to God for such a vast public acknowledgement of faith and for the power of prayer. It will take many years to interiorize the blessings which came to us through this event.
WYD visitors to our Abbey included:
The beautiful 60-strong Choir from the Philippines: July 5
Russian and German youth (170): July 7. Mother (Mutter) Rex was a big “hit”
with the young Germans.
The same day (evening) brought young people from Perth.
Twenty Vietnamese youth: July 8
Twenty-two Slovenians: July 9
Ten young people from Nigeria: July 10
Thirty-eight Americans: July 13
One hundred and fifty Peruvians: July 22
Fr. John Anderson and young people: July 23
Our Carmelite Fathers, Sisters and young people from East Timor (23 and 24 July)
An unexpected visit: Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Edinburgh and Monsignor Allan,
Fr John Duggan (Co. Limerick, Ireland), Bishop Crispian, the Bishop of Portsmouth, U.K. Bishop Peter Ingham of Wollongong, our retired but very active Bishop David Cremin and Annie, and the beautiful Deirdre MacDonald and her friend Fiona, from Scotland. Deidre is a cousin (on both sides of her family) of Blessed Mary MacKillop. Deidre and Fiona gave us a concert of Scottish Dancing, and Deidre and Bishop Cremin played their violins with joyful and beautiful giftedness.
Archbishop Philip Wilson came for a visit later (September 1), to share his experiences of World Youth Day with us, and what it meant to him to travel with the Pope throughout the WYD events. We can appreciate more the degree of security and planning which facilitated the Papal visit to Sydney.
Monastic Visitors during 2008:
Sr. Anna Brennan , from Stanbrook Abbey, England, spent a few weeks with us during February, and was here for February 13, Australia’s historic day. As readers
of our newsletter know well, one of our founding Mothers was from Stanbrook Abbey. Because of the great distance and the nature of monastic life, travelling to Australia
is not easily done. In the past, we have welcomed Sr. Maria Boulding (1980), and Mother Joanna Jamieson (2003). Sr. Anna was able to spend much more time with us, and we were so happy to share Australia with her – that is, our beautiful area of the Illawarra district of New South Wales, the Shoalhaven area further South, and
the Southern Highlands above us.
Fr. Henry Wansborough , a monk of the English Benedictine Congregation, and based at present in Zimbabwe, visited on July 7 -8. Fr. Henry, a long-time scripture scholar and teacher, shared with us his knowledge and experience of the society of Zimbabwe, and the courage of the people in confronting the difficulties and living in hope.
Fr. Bernie Redden from Tarrawarra Abbey, Victoria, visited us on May 7. This was his first visit to our community, and a very joyful one, with much to share.
Abbot Christopher Jamieson, from Worth Abbey, England, came on July 18, and gave some “input” to us. A lot of time was spent in discussing and comparing the two television productions. His Abbey did “The Monastery”, well before we agreed to do ‘The Abbey”. And as many of us remember, “The Monastery” was shown on Australian television after “The Abbey”.
Sr. Christina from Tautra Abbey, in Norway: July 19. As part of the WYD pilgrims
Sr. Christina brought with her photographs of her Abbey and its surroundings in Norway, and illustrations of her community at prayer and work. It was a wonderful experience to have her with us and it has certainly helped to strengthen the links between ourselves and Norway.
Mother Joanna Jamieson stayed with us during August and the beginning of September. It was especially significant that Mother was here for Mother Benedicta’s second anniversary of death, and was able to read the Scripture text at Midday Prayer which was held in our cemetery. Also present were our Oblates who were making their Retreat that weekend. There was a strong solidarity at that gathering and so many present felt the power of the Holy Spirit calling us on. Mother Joanna Jamieson was on a Sabbatical Year. Already an accomplished artist, she has been studying art in London at the Prince of Wales School of Art. This study brought her into contact with the works of Arthur Boyd, and while here at the Abbey Mother Joanna was able to visit the Arthur Boyd gallery at Bundanoon. Sr. Veronica and Sr. Ancilla, both artists in their own gifted way, accompanied Mother Joanna to the
Arthur Boyd Gallery, and to the National Gallery in Canberra. Sr. Janice and Sr. Joanna accompanied Mother Joanna to Sydney to visit the Art Gallery. Mother Joanna also visited her friend, Abbot Placid Spearritt of New Norcia, not knowing
that this would be the last time she would see him. He died suddenly in October,
while in England, at his own Abbey of Ampleforth. Mother Joanna worked on her art throughout her time in Australia and produced a collection of beautiful sketches of our landscape. We were her critics when she displayed them prior to her departure –
and as Australians, we could only stand in awe congratulate her.
For those who remember the women of the ABC Abbey Series, Meg came for a visit to the Abbey on July 1, with her husband Peter, and their three children, Gabriel Christijana and Anastasia. The children were anxious for a ride in the truck – that rusty old vehicle which still moves…..sometimes! We were all gifted by this visit. It was a visit enshrouded in the love of Meg and Peter for each other and for their children, and it was a visit which brought the tangible reality of that love to us as blessing.
Sr. Elizabeth Funder celebrated her Diamond Jubilee on October 11. Sr. Elizabeth entered our community in 1947. While there are many positive things that could be said about Sr. Elizabeth, the most important reality is her “faith”. Her strong faith has sustained her through the sixty years of her monastic journey. Her closest companion on the journey was Sr. Marie Gregory Forster, who died here at Jamberoo on 22 JULY 2003
On July 11, Louise Cobby entered the community. Her parents came with her
on the day. Louise is the third of eight siblings, seven of whom are still living. Her father is one of Australia’s own sons – a Vietnam Veteran.
August 6: This was the day Levita Rodriguez chose for her Monastic clothing ceremony. Levita also was given the name of Sr Caritas. She shares a little about
her choice of name:
“I drew a lot of inspiration from the first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI ‘Deus
Caritas Est’ which means ‘God is Love’. In it, he spoke of the love (agape), which God lavishes upon us, and the love (charity) which we in turn must share with others.
What does Caritas mean to me personally? To me it means that, to the extent
I allow the love (agape) of Jesus to permeate my whole being so fully, to that extent I can choose to love (charity) each one of you unconditionally. This choice is a decision and not a feeling. Feelings change like the weather but my decision to love is constant and unchangeable. This love is caritas, which is purely divine coming from Jesus’ heart to my heart, to you. I cannot be caritas on my own. I need both Jesus and you to BE caritas. This may not be realistic immediately and it may take me a whole lifetime of grace and sacrifice but I say ‘yes’ to whatever God desires of me.”
I am deeply grateful to each one of you for having made this clothing possible for me with your love, support, understanding and prayers. I owe this day to you. Thank you very much.
And we say: Thank you, dear sister, for your love of God and your commitment to prayer at the heart of the church and our world. Sr Caritas has chosen the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as her feastday.
Decade birthdays during 2008:
January 28 : Sr. Benedetta celebrated her 60th Birthday.
May 3: Sr. Mary Claire celebrated her 80th Birthday.
September 9: Sr. Naomie Ruth celebrated her 40th Birthday
October 12: Sr. Clare celebrated her 80th Birthday. This was a combined
celebration in Liturgy and festivity, with Sr. Elizabeth, who celebrated her Diamond Jubilee on October 11. Sr. Clare had the joy of having her own sister, Annette here for the 80 th birthday, and her cousin Jill from Western Australia, but also the vulnerable “after-space” which followed on from Aunt Ellen’s funeral. Ellen, Aunt
and Guardian of Annette, and our Sr. Clare, died in October aged 104.
Our Heritage Centre opened this year. We have had a few visitors: Brian Butler
from Liguge Abbey, (looking for background for his article on Bishop Davis which appeared in Tjurunga during this year; Bishop Benjamin, and Karel, Bishop James Foley, Graham Pender (a Doctoral student working on the life bishop Davis. We
are honoured to hold in trust vestments from the English Reformation, (one worn
by Blessed Edmund Campion, and worn for the last time in 1926, by Bishop de Boismenu, msc); some sacred memorabilia belonging to Archbishop John Bede Polding, Bishop Charles Henry Davis, Dom Bede Sumner, and Fr. Maurus O’Connell – all pioneers of Benedictine monasticism in Australia. Our Reliquary has also been moved to the Heritage Centre. Numerous relics, including a relic of the True Cross of Our Lord, and a Scarf belonging to the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne (1793), can be viewed.
We thank Mr. Ian Smith of Penrith for his contribution to the Heritage Centre. He has given us a Child of Mary Medal worn by Anita Ward, his grandmother and a pupil of our School (prior to 1900).
We also thank Wendy and Terry Nunan, who have been working hard to add more and more to the marvelous work done by Sr. Marie Therese Malone and Br. Terry Kavenagh in the 1980s on the history of our early Nuns. Terry and Wendy have completed The Ancestry and Family Tree of Dame Mary Clare Gabriel (Florence Eugenia Gabriel), and continue to work on the background of many of our Lay Sisters. It is surely a privilege that one of our Lay Sisters was the child of two Irish Convicts, and may have been baptized by Archbishop William Ullathorne. Terry and Wendy Nunan spend time at the Mitchell Library, doing the work that we can’t do
from within the cloister. However, there is much that can be done through the Internet.
Those who have made a commitment to our community as Oblates:
November 23, 2007: Marjorie (Teresa) Carroll, of Blairgowrie, Victoria.
February 3: Therese (Anthony) Harding
February 17: Vincenzo (Gerrado) Cappetta, of Narrabeen, NSW. Teresa
(Benedict) Pozniak, of Narrabeen, NSW. Sidney (Michael) Rice, Pamela
( Dominica) Rice, of Elanora Heights, NSW, Wendy (Lucy) Browning, of
Collaroy, N.S.W. John (Anselm) Jamieson, Barbara ( Elizabeth) Jamieson.,
of Narrabeen, NSW. Elaine (Brigid) Guy, of Narrabeen, NSW.
March 30: Peter (Paul) Chatfield ofLane Cove, NSW.
May 11: Andrew (Stephen) Davies, of Agnes Water, Queensland.
May 24: Ivan (Benedict) Fitz, of Liverpool, NSW
June 8: Catherine (Julian) Eaton, of Sorrento, Victoria.
August 10: Vilma Elizabeth Smith and Anthony John Smith, of Elanora Heights, NSW.
September 14: Fr. Andrew (Aidan) Doohan, of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese.
September 30 : Vivien (Teresa Hilda) Arnold, and her husband, Lindsay (Samuel Alban) Roe, of Canberra.
Those who have died since our last newsletter was printed:
January 20: Oblate Dr. Carney (Bede) Fisher.
January 23, 2008 : Kevin Rogers, Sr. Antonia Curtis’s brother-in-law.
March 10 : Charles Houen, husband of Oblate Margaret (Benedicta) Houen.
Good Friday : Oblate Sidney (Stephen) Long, of Corrimal, New South Wales.
March 22: Lillian Marjerison – Yorkshire, England. (Spouse of Philip Majerison, Mother Benedicta’s first cousin).
May 6: Sr. Joan Keating, rsj, friend of Sr. Agnes.
May 8 : Trevor Boland, friend of Sr. Agnes and her family.
May 10 : Eve Liscombe, Sr. Julianah’s second cousin.
June 16: Mrs. Anne Montieth, friend of Sr. Hildegard, and a faithful recipient of weekly Lectio Divina for almost 12 years.
June 18: Oblate John (Anselm) Jamieson
June 20: Sr. Bernice Elphick, best known to all of us for her faith-filled presence
as a Sister of Charity, and as the human force behind the St. Vincent’s Hospital
and St. Vincent’s clinic. She is also remembered by us for her kindness whenever
we had cause to go to St. Vincent’s Hospital or Clinic. Our associations with Sr. Bernice also include a mutual friend, Mr. Iain Gauld, our Project Manager, who
was associated in a professional capacity, with the expansion of St. Vincent’s Hospital, and who had such deep respect for Sr. Bernice.
July 5: Oblate Billie (Jude) Balson
July 11: Fr. Joseph Briglia, Sr. Immaculata’s nephew.
July 11: Helen Murphy, friend of many of our Sisters, and in particular those who lived at our Queensland foundation.
August: Sr. Immaculata’s sister, Francesca Porter.
August 27: Alex Reid, Sr. Ancilla’s friend and former neighbour.
September 9: Mrs. Edith King, dear friend of our community since we moved here
September : Cathy Bowen, friend of Sr. Hildegard and the Ryan family.
September 28: Ellen Taylor, aged 104. Ellen was Sr. Clare’s aunt and guardian.
A family’s parting: On Wednesday, October 1, the ashes of Helen and Doug Collyer were brought to our Abbey Gardens for burial. Present for the ceremony were Catherine Collyer and her husband Jason, Greg Collier (Helen and Doug’s son) and his wife, Fleur, with their 7 weeks old son James, Lynne (Helen’s sister), and Evelyn, Helen’s mother. Helen and Doug’s son and daughter emptied the ashes into the earth and worked with their hands to mix the ashes and earth into a fertile repository for the Rose which they planted on top of the grave. They worked only with their hands, not implements. This was important for them, and sacred for those of us who witnessed it. We then placed cut flowers from the Abbey gardens around this beautiful resting place. Greg and Catherine went upstairs in St Gertrud’s Cottage afterwards to be in the “space” where their mother Helen had stayed, and had found peace.
New Life : for those who received our Newsletter last year, and read of the death
of Siere Eve Fogarty – the Blessing is that Aylah May Fogarty was born on September 19. Congratulations to Andy and Holly, and thanks be to God.
We wish you all the blessings of the Christmas Season:
the blessing of humility,
And we continue to journey with you all
into another calendar year,
welcoming the Presence of God
as it comes in the events of our lives.
You are invited to join us
on New Year’s Eve for our
Annual Prayer Vigil
beginning at 11.45 p.m. with silent prayer.
The Blessed Sacrament is exposed for Adoration at midnight,
and the Nocturns of the Vigil are celebrated
at midnight, 2.00 a.m. and 4.00 a.m.
Lauds is prayed at 6.00 a.m.
and the First Mass of the New Calendar Year
at 7.00 a.m.