Sr Miriam’s Diamond Jubilee was 6thJanuary, but our Bishop, Robert McGuckin, suggested we celebrate it on Sunday 22ndFebruary because, here, January is the summer holidays and many people are away.
We are in the Cathedral Parish and Fr Michael O’Brien, the Cathedral Administrator, was very supportive. He asked Sr Miriam to promote the occasion by writing an article for the Cathedral Newsletter – the whole front page and most of the inside as well! Time being limited, Sr Miriam used an edited version of the poem she had written: “The Inner Face of MTL.”
The Jubilee Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Robert and our retired Bishop Bill Morris who returned just for the occasion, as well as four priests. Another retired bishop, Bishop Brian Finnigan, called in to see Sr Miriam the week before the celebrations. He and several priests gave apologies because, being a Sunday, they were busy with parish Masses.
After Bishop Robert’s homily, Sr Miriam made the devotional renewal of her Vows, following which the parish presented her with a beautiful flower arrangement and Ailish sang a special Irish Blessing hymn.
For the Offertory we included several items representing our Claverian vocation:
· A Jubilee Candle - symbol of a life consumed in the service of God.
· A Globe - symbol of our Congregation’s internationality and the universality of Mission.
· Copies of the life of our Foundress ‘Go out to the whole world’, of ‘Echo from Africa and other Continents’ and of Sister’s poems ‘Touching the Spirit Within’ - symbols of the missionary charism of our Mother Foundress in which we all share and of Sr Miriam’s work over so many years.
· Fragrant Incense and Flowers - symbols of religious consecration, of union with Christ through prayer and self-sacrifice, spreading the fragrance of Christ.
These gifts, with the bread and wine, were taken to the Altar by our Sisters and representatives of our Mission Committee, Youth Group and Sr Miriam’s family.
Although we had not intended to make it a big function, it turned out to be, with over 200 people gathering in the Cathedral Centre after Mass for refreshments, a good socializing talk, and to give gifts.
The ever-generous members of our Mission Committee provided most of the refreshments, but as is the custom here in Australia, many people also ‘brought a plate’ (with something on it!) so there were no difficulties with catering. Our friends also served and washed all the dishes.
There was a special atmosphere of joy, both during the Mass and the serving of refreshments. Many people remarked on that fact and said they were surprised at how many had attended. The Cathedral was packed with people of various nations, friends and benefactors, Mission Committee members, Youth Group families, and some of Sr Miriam’s own family. Her only remaining sister Mary was too frail to come but most of her children came - and others too. In total, five of her nephews and two nieces attended, all travelling great distances to be there.
Almost everyone had some part of the Mass they had liked best. Some said they were touched most when Sr Miriam renewed her vows, others liked the special blessing that had been sung for her after her renewal of vows, others... Several non-Catholics were also there and one in particular mentioned how moved he had been during the distribution of Holy Communion. “The priests just looked so happy” he said.
For those who do not know Sr Miriam, a little history: she was born in Gayndah, Queensland, Australia; one of the seven children of John and Ellen Lorenz. Her parents and grandparents subscribed to our Echoand reading the articles about missionary life motivated for her to enter our Congregation in 1956 – our first Australian vocation.
Sr Miriam served our Congregation in Melbourne, New Zealand, America and Canada before founding our house in Toowoomba in 1986. She went to Rome in 1995 when elected as First Counsellor, and served as the Missions Secretaryfor that six year term.
She has been editor of the Echofor over 50 years, and still produces a magnificent edition every month – well, 10 times a year!
Sr Miriam wishes to thank everyone for remembering her on her Jubilee. She writes:
Please accept my deep appreciation and thanks for the beautiful card, with greetings for the Diamond Jubilee of my religious consecration. You are so kind and gracious to remember the occasion of Jubilee between God, our Claverian Family and me, one of your members for just over half of the 125 years of our charitable service in the mission of the Universal Church; having been accepted by then Mother General, our Mother Laetitia Malinowska.
Having been born in September 1929 the year our first Sisters came to Australia to establish our first convent and mission service here, I entered in Kew 1stMarch 1956, was accepted as Postulant 26thApril 1956, entered Novitiate on 21stNovember 1956 feast of Mary’s Presentation in the Temple and also feast of Christ the King; then accepted for Profession of Vows on 6thJanuary 1959, with Perpetual Vows 6thJanuary 1969.
While thanking you one and all, for your greetings, love and prayer, I ask you to continue to do the same for me until The Master calls me Home. You are remembered in my prayer and love in Jesus, our beloved Spouse and Redeemer to Whom I owe everything.
Your sister in the Holy Family,
Sr. Miriam Lorenz SSPC
Sr Eileen March.