After 155 years of benefiting from the presence of Good Samaritan Sisters, the people of St Augustine parish in Balmain sadly wished the last remaining sister, Sr Mary Constable sgs, goodbye at a warm and touching thanksgiving Mass on 25 August.
It was a double celebration, also marking Sr Mary’s 100th birthday which fell on 10 August.
Sr Mary and her fellow religious, Sr Marie McMahon sgs who died in July, enriched the local community “beyond measure” said parish priest Father Salas Muttathukattil MSFS.
“Over the years they brought inspiration and comfort to many people, always meeting them at their point of need,” he said.
“Just a few months back Sr Mary and Sr Marie’s outstanding contribution and service to the parish of St Augustine was officially recognised by the Archdiocese of Sydney with both being awarded the Dempsey Medal.
“We cannot thank them enough for all of their hard work and their presence will be greatly missed and never forgotten.”
Bishop Terry Brady presided over the farewell Mass, after which Fr John Therry Catholic Primary School school students presented the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Sr Patty Faulkner sgs, with a donation for their missionary work.
Sr Mary told the hundreds gathered that God had been “very good” to her over all these years.
“I have felt that he had his hand on my shoulder,” she said.
“I’m hoping that what I’ve done in Balmain has been beneficial for the soul and the individual and has pleased God.
“I ask you please to pray for me.”
Sr Patty said it was a sad but also a very proud day.
“Over 155 years 225 sisters have lived, educated and ministered in Balmain as teachers, welfare and social workers,” she said.
“It was so good for many of our sisters to call Balmain our home, especially in these last years Sr Marie McMahon and Sr Mary Constable.”
Crucial to their ministry were endless cups of tea and “a listening ear”, she said.
In 1939 at the age of 20 Mary entered the order and was professed in 1943.
She worked as an infants teacher at St Augustine’s, which is now known as Fr John Therry Balmain-Rozelle Primary School, until 1947.
From 1948 to 1961 Sr Mary was sent to Japan with fellow sisters to establish a dispensary for the poor in Nagasaki to treat victims of the atomic bomb.
In the late 1970’s she returned to Australia to continue welfare work and in 1995 was awarded a Premier’s award for superior work in community service.
Sr Mary now lives at St Catherine’s Aged Care in Eastwood.
This article was written by Marilyn Rodrigues and appeared in the The Catholic Weekly, August 30 2019.