Sisters Farewelled from Windale
Wednesday 28th November 2018 was a memorable day for the former parish of St Pius X Windale and the Lochinvar Sisters of St Joseph. All were invited by Fr Gerard Mackie PP to a formal farewell to the Sisters after sixty years of ministry in the parish.
In 1958 after a year of weekly catechising visits, the Sisters moved into residence in Windale in 1959, opening St Pius X Primary School and ministering among the people. Two of the three Sisters who ministered in the parish in 1958, Marie Craddock and Margaret Anne Geatches, were present on 28th. The third in the weekly catechising visit from Belmont was Ruth Boland, who died in 2015.
Many Sisters over the years have loved ministering among the needy families in Windale and have very happy memories of the parishioners who supported them in their work. Among those parishioners were Barry and Kath Evans who became well-known for her role in the canonisation of St Mary MacKillop.
As has happened recently in many places, our Sisters withdrew from Windale earlier this year, although Sr Celie Creigh, the last Sister to reside there, returns each week to work with children at St Pius X school in a reading programme.
The weather on the morning of 28th was ominous, with gale force winds and heavy rain predicted. However, before the rains fell, over 25 Sisters gathered at St Pius X Church to the welcome of the smiling, resilient Windale people. Some Sisters from more distant places sent apologies, deterred by the weather.
All assembled in the church for the Farewell Mass. With the parishioners and Sisters there were teachers and classes from St Pius X Primary and representative teachers and pupils from the other Primary schools in the new, larger Jesus the Good Shepherd parish, namely St Joseph’s, Belmont and St Patrick’s, Swansea. The Principal, Mr Larry Keating, and students from St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead also attended. There was tangible joy in being together.
Fr Gerard Mackie presided, accompanied by his assistant, Fr John Vo and two of Fr John’s Vietnamese visiting priest friends. We celebrated with the Votive Mass of St Joseph, the special Mass booklet featuring Jesus with Joseph on the cover and St Mary MacKillop and Fr Julian Tenison Woods at the end.
Fr Gerard welcomed the Sisters and acknowledged with gratitude their years of ministry amongst the people of Windale. One of the last Sisters there, Sr Catherine Grant, proclaimed the first reading. Sr Megan Brock, Congregational Leader, outlined the history of the Sisters’ ministry in the parish, commencing when Windale was part of the archdiocese of Sydney (Click here). Sr Megan presented Fr Gerard with a wooden cross, the signature cross of the Lochinvar Sisters of St Joseph. In his acceptance, Fr Gerard announced that he would place a portrait of Fr Julian Tenison Woods, St Mary MacKillop and this cross together in the church.
After Mass, still in sunshine, we moved to the nearby Bowling Club where Fr Gerard hosted the Sisters to lunch. Many parishioners joined the gathering, sharing companionship and 60 years of stories.
For sixty years our Sisters shared the mission of Jesus in Windale. We have been blessed to have shared the lives, faith and spirit of the Windale people.