A long time ago, I took the name St. Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower) for my Confirmation name. My choice was encouraged by a framed, beautiful picture of her on Mum’s bedroom wall. Little did I realise then that I would actually have the privilege of working with two Religious Sisters (Sr J and Sr B), in Alice Springs and in Canberra, who, in my opinion, were saint-like, following in the footsteps of St Therese.
St Therese wrote, “In Heaven the good God will do all I wish, because I have never done my own will upon earth.” Sr J lived her life by that motto, although I imagine it wasn’t a deliberate thought. It was as natural to Sr J as breathing, and she encouraged all around her to live according to God’s will, as God’s great love for us would ensure our happiness.
While it was my will and great desire to work within an area of my Catholic faith, it was also God’s will, because for about seventeen years the “Church” was my boss! As a child, I used to pretend, while doing my homework, that I was a secretary and receptionist, so as you can imagine, I was extremely happy to be exactly that at a Catholic High School in Alice Springs.
When I moved to Canberra and was employed by the Archdiocesan Centre for Faith and Ministry, I witnessed and assisted in the work of a very special living saint! “All my life, God surrounded me with love. My happy disposition contributed to making my life pleasing,” said my Confirmation saint back in the 19th century and that statement sums up Sr B, who always had a smile on her face. I watched and admired her as she showed by example the very words St Therese said, “A word, a kindly smile, will often suffice to gladden a wounded and sorrowful heart.” Sr B radiated God’s love and touched the heart and soul of all who came in contact with her. She was content and at peace with herself, even when suffering great pain. At an age when she should have been retired from work, she still travelled to spread Jesus’ message. At night, she’d drive thirty minutes to spend an evening discussing with young adults what spirituality means in today’s society. Sr B is a perfect example of what it means to be a saint while on earth!
The Catholic Church has lots of saints and I read that even St Therese’s parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, were canonised by Pope Francis in October this year. Saints are good – their supreme sacrifices and hardships, even death, model for us how to live life devoted to our Heavenly Father. Their example encourages us to fully live, with love, compassion, sharing and giving, whether we live that life as a single, married or Religious person. I’d like to believe that when these two beautiful souls wing their way towards heaven, there will be no stopping at purgatory and like St Therese, whatever Sr J and Sr B ask.