“My soul magnifies the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”
With these words Sr Mary Stevens olsh, celebrated her 50th year Jubilee Anniversary of profession as a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred with her Religious family at Kensington, NSW on January 12, 2023.
Sr Mary stated that religious life has been a “A rich experience for me. It has taken me into areas of ministry and places that I would never have imagined when I was professed fifty years ago. I have been blessed in living and working with many sisters over the years and privileged to meet and work with so many dedicated and wonderful lay people who have remained my friends.’
Sr Mary was born into a family of 1 son (deceased) and 7 girls, growing up on a dairy farm at Nabiac, NSW until the children were of high school age, when the family moved to the town of Taree.
On leaving school, Mary initially worked as a receptionist, however, she always dreamt of helping the sick, poor, and disadvantaged through nursing. So, in 1964 she moved to Sydney and began her nursing studies at OLSH Hospital, Randwick. Sr Mary graduated with her Nursing Diploma in 1968 achieving 8th place in the State. She would later gain her midwifery and Paediatric diplomas, as well as Geriatric and Community Health Certificates.
Mary entered the OLSH Novitiate in 1970, was professed in 1973 and finally professed in 1976.
After profession she initially worked in the infirmary at Kensington Convent. In 1974 she became one of the founding members of St. Joseph’s Aged Care at Kensington. After completing her midwifery/paediatric studies she began her missionary life at Port Keats, NT as sister-in-charge of the clinic and hospital. Here, she was able assisted by lay nurses and aboriginal health workers, female and male. Over the years, Mary would return to Port Keats twice more. She also spent time at Santa Teresa and at Daly River missions.
Sr Mary’s calling took her to the Philippines from 1991 – 2002 as Leader, OLSH Region which changed her work from nursing to administration/leadership of young women who were entering the order, forming them to take over the many roles of leadership. As the Region grew convents were built on different islands and the sisters began lovingly to care for the poor and needy. In 2002 the Filipina Sisters assumed the leadership of their Region.
Following a sabbatical, Mary spent a year St. Mary’s Convent, Darwin and in 2004 was assigned to Timor Leste. Here Mary did medical clinics for the people in the mountains.
In 2008 – 2013 Mary was missioned as Director of Holy Family Care Centre located in Ofcolaco, South Africa. The Mission was established during the AIDS epidemic and was set up for children left orphaned, their parents having died from Aids. There were 70 children from babies to teens. What a wonderful ministry! Jesus said: ‘Let the little children come to me.’ Mary stated that ‘not a day passed that I wasn’t conscious of Jesus’ words. These beautiful children gave me far more than I ever gave them!’
In the NT again from 2014, Sr Mary is the leader of the NT OLSH communities of Alice Springs, Wadeye, Wurrumiyanga/a Vinnies volunteer and Spiritual Director of the OLSH Associates and a member of the OLSH Provincial Team. She is also the Leader of South Australian Communities – Kilburn, Prospect, Fulham Gardens, Whyalla, and Roxby Downs.
This is just a glimpse of Mary’s rich, varied and full life which she describes as being blessed with ‘life in abundance and joy to the full’, and says: ‘I would do it all again tomorrow!’
“When the time of our particular sunset comes, our thing, our accomplishments won’t really matter, but the clarity and care with which we have loved others will speak of the vitality of the great gift of life we have been for each other.”
‘Glory be to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask for or imagine.’
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be everywhere Loved.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart pray for us.