Reflections of a Golden Jubilarian Sister Rosemary McCarthy lsp 1971 - 2021
The above quote from our Constitutions was uppermost in my mind as I prepared for the great event of my Golden Jubilee and lookedback over those 50 years with deep gratitude for God’s faithfulness and the joy and privilege of growing in union with the Lord and striving to transmit to the elderly, the Mercy and Compassion of Christ.
My journey really began with a hidden attraction to religious life since childhood. I also new that I wanted to be a nurse. During my nursing training, I came in contact with the Little Sisters when I nursed one of them who was admitted to the hospital. She persuaded me to go and visit the Little Sisters. I did go, and when I walked in the door of the Home of the Little Sisters in Adelaide, I felt so much at home and the joyful welcome of the Sisters was impressive. At this time, religious life had disappeared from my agenda and I decided not to return to the Home as the attraction was so strong.
I later learnt that what I experienced is called ‘charism’. A vocation is a call from God and He plants a specific charism into the human heart and when that person comes in contact with the group of people where that charism is lived, what was lying dormant, comes to life.
Following graduation as a registered nurse, I traveled to Melbourne with a group of friends to study midwifery. This was a great year. One incident may be worth mentioning. It was Christmas Eve and there was a party. We were at the party, intending to leave in time for midnight Mass at St. Francis Church. Close to midnight, I kept reminding my companions that it was time to go, but the party was in full swing.
Eventually we got away and landed in an overflowingchurch, very late. As there was no room, we were ushered to the very front where we sat on the floor. The first time I had been so late for Mass- and Christmas Eve! I remember I had tears running down my face, thinking, ‘I don’t want to live like this’
With a few more ups and downs, I graduated as a midwife and, with my midwifery certificate, returned to Adelaide. My love for the wideopen spaces of the country took me to work in a small hospital in the Adelaide hills. Here I delivered babies at one end of the hospital and cared for elderly patients at the other end.
I was happily coasting along, when one night I was reading a book that described someone out in the country, drinking in the beauty of nature and finding peace in that setting. Something within me said, or thought, or just a knowing, ‘You will find that with the Little Sisters of the Poor’.
This experience was so strong that the very next morning I telephoned the Mother Superior of the Home in Adelaide and made an appointment to go and see her the following Sunday. When I told her my reason for coming, she said in amazement: “Rosemary, do you know what today is?” I replied, “no” and was told that it was Vocation Sunday and nine days previously the Sisters had placed a rose in front of a picture of Jeanne Jugan, foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor and made a 9 day novena, asking for a postulant. The rose bloomed for the nine days. The fact that ‘Rosemary’ turned up on the ninth day was affirmation for them that their prayer had been heard.
A vocation is a call which the Lord always faithful, renews for us until the end of our life.
We must remain attentive to this call. By his grace we will always better understand its full significance and will respond to it with deeper maturity and greater love, for the greater glory of the one and undivided Trinity.
(Constitutions Little Sisters of the Poor)
The rest is 50 years of history! I thank God for calling me to this beautiful vocation as a daughter of St. Jeanne Jugan where I have learnt from her sayings: “My Jesus I have only You” and “Making the old folk happy, that’s what counts!”…and during the inevitable tough times, I think of that rose.