“MEET me by the old bell” has been a common saying for Brisbane archdiocese’s vicar for religious Sister of Charity Patricia Scully these past 11 years.
Now the saying will be among much useful information Sr Scully will be passing on to her successor, Josephite Sister Rita Flynn, stepping into the role from May 2.
The old bell, from St Stephen’s Cathedral, located in the cathedral precinct near the vicar of religious’ office, has provided a readily recognisable meeting spot where many of the archdiocese’s religious have first met Sr Scully.
She said her role of acting as a type of ombudsman to members of the archdiocese’s 60 religious orders has been challenging but “personally enriching and a delight in so many ways”.
“My initial challenge was to be the first woman religious to be appointed as vicar for religious in Brisbane archdiocese,” she said.
“Several people I met initially expressed anxiety at this decision.
“I can still remember one of my first public appearances – it was at a big college and I was called in to deliver a vote of thanks.
“When I was called on to come up to the rostrum I heard someone say with surprise: ‘Goodness, it’s a woman’.”
Incoming vicar for religious, Sr Flynn, who came to Australia from Ireland to join the Sisters of Joseph novitiate in Sydney and later became a provincial leader, will also bring the necessary broad experience in a wide range of ministries from education to work with the sick.
“This experience will provide valuable insights in working with the various congregations who work in such a wide range of ministries,” Sr Flynn said.
Both Sr Flynn and Sr Scully acknowledge Archbishop John Bathersby’s wisdom and foresight in supporting the role of vicar for religious as a way of recognising the important work performed by the various congregations throughout the archdiocese.
Sr Scully, a former teacher who also obtained a Masters Degree in Canon Law, has been a member of the Church tribunal since 1985.
In her recent “Letter To Religious On Retirement” she said she would “continue to be part of this ministry in the Church for the foreseeable future”.
The Sister of Charity, in this letter of farewell, also writes: “I am deeply grateful and humbled by the many opportunities I have had to be part of the life and mission of so many congregations.
“I firmly believe the Church in Australia is especially blessed by the generous commitment of her women and men religious to the living out of their particular charism.”
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.