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A journey of 40 years

A dream became a reality, early 1980, when Sr. Doreen and Sr Rita came to South Australia to examine the possibility of a new opening. Fr. Jim O’Loughlin, the parish priest of Paynahem, who at that time was also the Pastoral Director at the diocesan seminary in Adelaide, accepted the challenge of welcoming the small group of religious women into his parish. Originally, three sisters were to be sent to open the community in Adelaide on March 1983, but due to illness, Sr Teresa Ragusa was unable to go, so our pioneers were Sr. Mary La Bruna and Sr. Candida De Angelis.

On their first week, the sisters undertook a systematic plan of daily home visitation with the view of inviting families to the Parish Mission that Fr. O’Loughlin had organized with the help of a Scalabrini priest from Seaton. Sr. Mary was then to work mainly with the young, establishing vibrant youth groups and coordinating the parish sacramental program for Catholic children in government schools.

Sr. Candida commenced a number of Prayer Groups in English and Italian, based on the Scripture readings of the Sunday Eucharist, and visited the sick and the elderly in their homes bringing Communion to them on a regular basis. These ministries continued right up to the present time.

In 1987 Fr. O’Loughlin completed his mandate as Parish priest and Fr. Allan Winter became our Parish priest. He invited us to continue our pastoral presence. On Fr Allan Winter retirement, Fr. Michael Romeo became our Parish priest, and the presence and pastoral collaboration continued.

Right from the beginning of our presence in Adelaide, the concrete support of our Mission among the poor in the Philippines has been benevolent and never ending. We express our gratitude to Sr. Tarcisia, who became instrumental after her brief visit to the Philippines. She had been moved by the poor living conditions of many people in the Philippines. She shared her dream with the parish priest and a group of dedicated parishioners and together they embarked on a significant fund raising venture, mainly through organizing twice a year a Mission Lunch, and other smaller initiatives. Originally the luncheons were sponsored by a family in the parish who owned a catering business, but very quickly they were organized by a group of Pauline Cooperators and the support of many like- minded parishioners.

This year, Sunday 29 October, we were privileged to celebrate the 40 years of our presence in Adelaide with a Mission Lunch, organized with the collaboration of Fr Michael Romeo, and the first hand help of Pauline Cooperators and friends who worked hard to make it a very successful joyful event, raising money to support our feeding program and the scholarship to young people.

In conclusion to the celebration of our anniversary in Adelaide, Fr Michael Romeo, our parish priest presented the sisters with a statue of the Good Shepherd, which was blessed and placed in the garden of the Community.

The Mission Lunch and the blessing of the statue, was an opportunity to reconnect with young and old parishioners and recall the past with gratitude through the presence of the first missionary sisters who came to Adelaide. Recalling how the spirit of Jesus Good Shepherd has been a visible and relevant presence in us and with the people, not only in Payneham but in other parishes like; Newton, Greenacres and Walkerville were the sisters have been assigned. It is always a great joy to remember the sisters who have been part of the community in Paynahem over 40 years: Besides Sr Candida and Sr Mary there has been, Sr. Tarcisia, Sr. Carmen, Sr. Adele, Sr. Anna, Sr. Alberta, Sr. Doreen, Sr. Estelita, Sr. Brenda, Sr. Rita, Sr. Josie and Sr. Delia.

Today, as we celebrate 40 years of our presence in Adelaide, we see Pope Francis’ invitation of forming a synodal Church, characterized by communion, participation, and mission as the essence of our pastoral mission. Recalling how the Spirit has guided the sisters, the Parish Priests and parishioners through the journey taken thus far, we see the Good Shepherd continuing to call us to be together and be witnesses of God’s fidelity and love.

Sr. Rodelia Bordan, sjbp

Adelaide Community

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