The 8th Feb 2014 was 50 years since I left my beloved home, family and friends to join the Good Shepherd Novitiate in Nayakakanda, Sri Lanka.
I remember that day so clearly as if it was just yesterday. I thought I was never going back home, as was customary then.
Circumstances, attitudes and rules have changed a lot since then. The greatest of them where I was concerned was the permission to go back home. At first we could visit our families for only a couple of hours. Later for three days once a year. At first we could not stay overnight at home but at the nearest convent.
This is not the case now largely due to Vatican Council 11 and its implementations.
I am the eldest of three girls - a Dutch Burgher (although I do not know one word of Dutch), a city girl who studied in the English medium at St. Lawrence’s, Wellawatte.
Since coming to Australia in 1976, 42 years ago, my name, dress, life style, work and country differed from Sri Lanka.
My commitment is still the same though. So are the core values of what a Good Shepherd Sister is. The passion and compassion that flow from the Good Shepherd is still the same although expressed differently. I have experienced this many a time and am truly grateful.
My association with St. Bridget’s Convent, Cinnamon Gardens (also a Good Shepherd School) spans many decades right from the time my Dad went to school there up to the present moment.
Although I did not study at St. Bridget’s I fondly recall those memorable years (1968- 1976) as Boarding Mistress and Student Counsellor when so many Bridgetine lives touched mine and continue to do so even here in Australia.
So too are the past pupils of St. Lawrence’s, Wellawatte here in Melbourne. Some are my class mates. I had the good fortune of meeting up with them and forming a Fellowship.
I qualified as a Cross Cultural Counsellor. My ministry for 18 years was that of a Migration Agent (1992-2010). I worked for and with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. For many years I was an active member of ACRATH: Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans. Now I am challenged by a serious health condiition.
I have had Sabbaticals in Pymble NSW, in Sri Lanka, in Angers, France and in New Mexico. All of these experiences contributed to a deeper spirituality of Good Shepherd Mission where one person is worth more than the world.
‘Gratitude is the memory of the heart’ - so said our dear Mother Foundress, and grateful I am.
Comprehensive overview from the GSAPP team - how Good Shepherd Partnership for Mission is developing in this region
Reconciliation holds special meaning in the Australian nation - it describes the long journey towards full acknowledgment of the rights of First Nations Peoples