December and January were a time of much celebration for the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, with the jubilees of religious profession of seven sisters being held in four different venues in the North and South Islands.
The jubilarians were Srs Pauline Leonard, Colleen King-Turner, Merle Hiscock, Maureen Richardson and Roleen Curtain (celebrating 60 years of religious profession) and Srs Colleen Edgecombe and Anna Maria Persico (celebrating 50 years of religious profession).
They served in many and varied ways to build up in Kingdom of God in their combined 400 years of service. The celebrations saw liturgical celebrations, followed by tributes and refreshments.
The celebration of the jubilees of Srs Merle Hiscock, Pauline Leonard and Colleen Edgecumbe took place at Sts Peter and Paul church in Lower Hutt on December 12. At the conclusion of the Mass, province leader Sr Carmel Cole, RNDM, noted that these three sisters had collectively given 107 years of service to Catholic education in this country.
“Pauline and Merle have both been principals. Merle at St Peter and Paul in Lower Hutt and Pauline at Sacred Heart Girls’ College Hamilton. Colleen has been a Director of Religious Studies most recently at Sacred heart College Napier,” Sr Carmel said.
“Each sister has also served in a leadership role in our Province and Pauline in our Congregational Leadership team in Rome for six years. Merle is now involved in spiritual direction, supervision and retreat work. Pauline is on various boards and is chaplain to the local CWL. Colleen is in the penultimate week following six years in the province leadership team. She is a gifted musician, having achieved her LTCL in 1967. She still plays the piano daily and throughout her life has not only taught RE and music in schools, but [has] given generously of her time and ability to enhance church music in the many parishes in which she has lived.”
The celebration of the jubilees of Srs Colleen King-Turner and Anna Maria Persico took place at St Mary’s church in Nelson on December 20. Sr Carmel Cole reflected on the service given by both sisters.
“Colleen began her religious life as a teacher. She taught for 26 years, eight of these in Samoa. She was also the province bursar for 5 years. . . . Over the last 10 years, Colleen has spent time at a Centre for Ecology and Spirituality run by the Christian Brothers in Glenburn, Australia. . . . For the last few years Colleen has lived in Nelson forming a welcoming community for international sisters who come to New Zealand to learn English. Colleen is also a faithful St Vincent de Paul member and in her spare time she can be found in the garden doing what she loves – tending the plants and caring for the earth.”
“. . . . Anna Maria spent many years teaching music, firstly in Christchurch and later in Napier and during these years she also became involved in parish activities. In 1993 she moved to Cashmere and then Opawa where she continued to work in parish outreach and music ministry for the next 24 years. In 2018 Anna Maria moved to Addington and currently enjoys a slower pace of life while still teaching a small number of music pupils. Anna has been a very generous and devoted musician attending church choir practices and playing anything that was put in front of her. She also has played at funerals, weddings and other occasions and shared her piano skills in classical, modern and jazz music.”
On January 5, the jubilee celebration of Sr Maureen Richardson took place at St Mary’s church, Napier. Again, Sr Carmel Cole spoke about the religious life of her fellow Mission sister.
She said that Sr Maureen qualified as a community nurse before entering religious life. After profession, she spent 10 years caring for senior sisters in Christchurch, and spent the next 10 years as matron at St Joseph’s Maori Girls College in Napier, where she was well-loved and was affectionately known as “Doc”. She continued her connection with people by working as a pastoral assistant in Titahi Bay, Wellington, and later moving to the Magnificat Community in the south Wairarapa. After this, she joined the “Communion of Peace” in Auckland, where she lived for 12 years, before moving back to Napier in 2015, where she continues her ministry of prayer and companionship.
The Chapel at Nazareth Community of Care in Christchurch was the venue for the celebration of the jubilee of Sr Roleen Curtain. Sr Carmel Cole said Sr Roleen began her religious life as a teacher of primers in Christchurch. “However, very quickly her musical talent was recognised, and she spent almost 20 years teaching music in some schools where RNDM’s taught: Sumner, Ashburton, Rangiora. A little later at St Joseph Maori Girls’ College in Napier and then in Lower Hutt.”
“In 1985, Roleen volunteered at Te Omanga Hospice in Lower Hutt. This led to fulltime hospital chaplaincy ministry at the Napier Hospital. Roleen was responsible for the pastoral and spiritual welfare of patients, families and the staff of the hospital.” She spent 16 years in this role.
After a few years involved in pastoral work in the Napier parish, visiting elderly people in their homes, taking Communion to people and reaching out to those recently discharged from hospital Roleen moved back to Christchurch to be closer to her family, Sr Carmel said.