THEIR smiles light up the room, but it’s the silent prayer life of Australia’s newest religious community that could light the darkness surrounding the Church in Australia.
Four nuns from the Sisters of Mary, Morning Star have offered to pray night and day for Australia and its people inside their new home in Brisbane.
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge welcomed Sr Samuel from France, Sr Sarah Rose from the United States, and Sr Jeanne Marie and Sr Josephine Marie, both from New Zealand, on September 12.
Archbishop Coleridge announced the establishment of the new community on Facebook, saying it was God’s will for the Sisters to call Brisbane their newest home.
“We’ve been in discussion with them for some time as part of a process of discernment; and both they and we have decided that this is what God wants,” he said.
“Our hope and prayer is that the sisters will bring new light and energy to the archdiocese.”
Founded in 2014 in San Sebastian diocese in Spain, the Sisters of Mary, Morning Star have 250 Sisters worldwide in 20 priories.
The non-cloistered, contemplative community consists of a life of silent prayer, study of scripture, philosophy and theology, and manual labour to meet their living expenses.
They begin and end their day with an hour of Eucharistic adoration, and unlike their cloistered counterparts, open their convents to offer formation in philosophy and theology, Bible studies and spiritual direction.
Sr Samuel, a former engineer who is in her 25th year in the order, said it was a providential connection with a Brisbane priest that sparked the decision to set up in Australia.
While living in the convent in the Philippines, Sr Samuel met and became good friends with New Farm parish priest Scalabrinian Father Ignacio Gutierrez, who was then posted in Cebu.
“Three years after, I sent an email to him, saying we are debating to go to Australia or New Zealand,” Sr Samuel said.
“I said, ‘Do we have a place in Australia? Will people be touched and would it be helpful to the Church in Australia?’”
The answer stumped the French nun.
“He wrote back to me saying, ‘Two days ago I spoke about you to the Archbishop (Archbishop Mark Coleridge)’,” Sr Samuel said.
“We hadn’t spoken to each other for three years. It was a sign of God”.
Another second sign from God was when two young Australians entered the order following Sr Samuel’s two week-long visits to Brisbane between 2017 and 2019.
Sr Samuel said Archbishop Coleridge welcomed the idea of the Sisters establishing a home in Brisbane because “the best thing to do” about the crisis and difficulty in the Church in Australia “is to call for a contemplative life and prayers”.
“The reason we came, firstly, was to pray for the people,” Sr Samuel said.
The four Sisters plan to share their prayer life with the Australian public “to help people become true friends of Christ”.
“This is what is most important, our divine friendship with Him, and we need to seek and look for Him with all our heart,” Sr Samuel said.
The Sisters of Mary, Morning Star will be based in the former presbytery in Ashgrove, but are waiting for a permanent home that will allow them to run retreats and formation sessions.