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Vale Sr Rosemary, Lover of Creation

On 31 January 2024, relatives, friends and Sisters of St Joseph gathered at Christ the King Church in Mayfield West to celebrate the life of Sr Rosemary Jackson and pray for her eternal rest.

As Sr Rosemary was borne into the church for the celebration of the Mass of Christian Burial, the congregation sang All Creatures of our God and King, the words of the Canticle of St Francis of Assisi.  Rosemary, like St Francis had a great love of the natural world and of the outsider. So how appropriate, therefore was that hymn, with such words as:

            Dear Mother Earth who day by day, reveals God’s blessings on our way and

            God’s Pilgrim People, called to be from darkness, sin and death, set free.

 Rosemary Claire Jackson, born at Weston on 9 September 1934 to Lance Jackson and Jean (nee Gibson), was the second of their five children: Kathleen, Heather, Peter and John.  After her primary schooling on the Coalfields and secondary education at St Joseph’s College, Lochinvar, Rosemary entered the Novitiate at Lochinvar in 1952 and was professed as a Sister of St Joseph on 4 January 1955.

For the next seventy-two years, Sr Rosemary proclaimed the Gospel through serving people in a variety of ministries – firstly, as a teacher and principal in primary schools and then as a teacher and pastoral carer in secondary schools.

Later, she moved into a number of pastoral ministries.  Initially, she served the poor and neglected in the Inner West suburbs of Sydney where, in conjunction with St Vincent de Paul Society, she developed a program for the mentally ill and disadvantaged that she named Mary MacKillop Outreach.  Then came many years spent as a prison chaplain at St Helier’s Correction Centre in Muswellbrook.

In later years, Sr Rosemary was able to spend much time outdoors in her beloved garden.  At Lochinvar and Black Hill she delighted in tending her chickens, knowing each one by name.

With declining health she became a resident in St Martin de Porres Aged Care Facility at Waratah.  During 2023 she spent much time in and out of hospital.  It was in John Hunter Hospital that Sr Rosemary died peacefully on the morning of Australia Day, 26 January 2024.

The Scripture texts were carefully chosen to reflect Sr Rosemary’s understanding of her vocation.  The words from the first reading from Isaiah 41, do not be afraid, for I am with you spoke of her great faith.  Those from the second reading, James 3, the wisdom from above is …. full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy tells of the way she encountered people while the Gospel passage from Luke 22, revealed the motivation for her life: I am among you as one who serves.

 Sr Carmel Moore, life-long friend and companion since their Novitiate days paid a beautiful tribute to Sr Rosemary in the Words of Remembrance.

At the conclusion of the Mass, the cortege moved to Lochinvar where Sr Rosemary’s friends, relatives and Sisters gathered in the Sisters’ section of the parish cemetery to commit her to the earth where she, with all her Sisters who have gone before her, awaits the resurrection.