“The worst time is the best time, if it is God’s time.”
I celebrated my 40th Anniversary of Religious Profession as a Family Care Sister at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Deepdene on Saturday, 27 March 2021. Fr Peter Carroll sdb was the celebrant. It was wonderful to be able to celebrate in my own parish church this beautiful occasion. I was grateful to have my mum, siblings and friends celebrate with me, even though COVID restrictions meant we had a reduced number able to attend. A big ‘thank you’ to each of my family for their love and support through the years, especially my mum Alix and my dad Marcel (RIP).
Maude O’Connell, Foundress of the Family Care Sisters, was inspired by the Gospel story of the Visitation, of Mary going out to visit her cousin Elizabeth in a spirit of love and service.
In “An Audacious Aussie Dream” by Penny Edman, we read “The various images of the visitation that have existed over the centuries show us two women bound together, united in an embrace and kiss, in one and the same happiness… This powerful scriptural image has been the inspiration of the Sisters as they have ministered to a myriad of women from all walks of life and social status…” This is our Gospel story and one which continues to inspire and call us forth.
My journey with the Family Care Sisters began in 1977 when I did my Mother Craft Training. I joined in 1979 and made my first profession in 1981 – 40 years ago.
I am one of 12 children and this has been a good preparation for religious life, especially for being a Family Care Sister. Initially, I went out into the homes and assisted mothers with their children. Since then I have completed pastoral care and spiritual direction courses and now work with the women at our Wholistic Centre at Croydon. I provide pastoral care and spiritual direction to the women and to other religious as well.
Reflecting on my 40 years of commitment to my God, I began to think about the meaning of Ruby – Stone of Divine Creativity. It boosts the energy levels and promotes self-esteem, intuition and spiritual wisdom. It is a symbol of love and loyalty; courage, achievement and motivation.
As I ponder these qualities, I think of what I have received from my family – love, self-esteem and faith from my grandmother and mother; intuition, courage and spiritual wisdom from our pioneer sisters; love and loyalty from family and friends. These 40 years have been a journey of love, they have been full of challenges and growth.
Knowing that God is always with me, has been and continues to be the source and the grounding of my prayer. God keeps inviting me to be light and hope for others, and keeps before me Mary and Elizabeth (the Visitation) – with the invitation to make hospitality my special care.
Today, it is Sr Jill Harding and myself who continue the work begun by Maude O’Connell. Our ‘smallness’ has never stopped us from reaching out to women. We keep before us the words of our Foundress, “The worst time is the best time, if it is God’s time.” This inspires us to keep moving forward, open to the gifts and challenges of the Spirit.
One such gift of the Spirit has been our affiliation with the Sisters of Mercy. It has been life-giving for both of us and we feel very blessed to be able to participate and celebrate with the Sisters of Mercy. Although we are affiliated with Mercy, we remain Family Care Sisters.
“Mary and Elizabeth bring out the best in each of us. Their lived experience is one of thankfulness and liberation. They meet one another at the level of the soul, of what is most profound in each of us…” This is my prayer for myself and Jill as we continue this Ministry.
By Michele Toussaint fcs
Family Care Sisters
in our Charism
to the energies
of the Universe,
we step forward
trusting the direction
we are being led.
With wisdom and courage
new and creative ways
of sharing ministry
whom we encounter