More than 1000 Catholic school students across Australia entered the Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Young Journalist competition, sharing stories of ‘justice heroes’ in their community. Students were invited to write about people who use their talents to help others and build a fairer world.
Congratulations to Hannah Dowling, of St Justin’s Catholic Parish Primary School in Oran Park, who was awarded Runner-up in the Junior section for her entry.
Sister Mary mightn’t be famous, or a person you're hanging for an autograph from, but she might just be one of the most amazing people you will ever meet. It’s a gorgeous May day when I sit down to learn more about this mild-mannered lady.
Growing up in a religious family, Sister Mary remembers thoughts of becoming a nun in her school years. By the end of high school however, those thoughts were forgotten as she went on to seek a teaching career. At the time, she pictured a future with marriage and children, but teaching in a Josephite school, she came to feel at home amongst the welcoming and friendly sisters, devoting their lives to doing God’s work with their students every day.
I was interested in the sacrifices Sister Mary had made to answer God’s call to religious life. “I sold the house and car I owned and gave the money to charity,” she said. “I also gave up a trip overseas and the idea of marriage.” There’s no regret in her voice. No wistful look in her eyes. These decisions were made comfortably and even made her feel ‘lighter’, she shares.
Sister Mary joined the Josephite Sisters when she was 35, over 20 years ago now. She has spent many years sharing her God-given gifts both in schools and in the wider community.When asking what her proudest achievements are, she smiled recalling her days with an indigenous community in the Kimberley of Western Australia. The children poor in wealth but rich in spirit, were just waiting to be nurtured, a job Sister Mary was only too happy to take on.
Since 2016, Sister Mary has been part of the Josephite Community in Leppington, working in the parish of St Mary MacKillop, Oran Park and St Justin’s Primary School. The local community often sees her visit families at home if someone is sick or needing a friend. She is the perfect person to talk to whether you're over the moon or down in the dumps. She is there to listen to you and help you in tough times.
My favourite insight from Sister Mary came in asking her what she thought God’s plan for her was. “To be me,” she answered. “I hope that we all celebrate our uniqueness and realise we are never alone.” she says, ”And I am happy to help us remember that.”