May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be everywhere loved!
A perfect woman – who can find her? She is far beyond the price of pearls. …
She is always busy with wool and with flax; she does her work with eager hands …
She holds out her hand to the poor, she opens her arms to the needy.
She is clothed
in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
When she opens her mouth, she does so wisely;
On her tongue is kindly instruction
(Proverbs 31, 10-26)
As the night of Ash Wednesday was closing in, Sr Lucy Bange, who, during her long life, had so fittingly represented this ‘valiant woman’ described in the book of Proverbs, quietly went to meet her loving God. As a woman and a religious, Lucy had lived, as she died, quietly, with little fuss, so that in keeping with the Gospel Reading for Ash Wednesday, we can be assured that the Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward her. (Matthew 6, 18)
Lucy was born in Clifton, Queensland, the second eldest child of John and Bertha Bange. Her parents, her sister Joan and brothers Leo, Noel and Ronald have predeceased her. We can only imagine the great welcome the Bange family would have given Lucy, their eldest daughter and sister, as she entered her heavenly home. To the members of Sr Lucy’s extended family, we offer our deepest sympathy and the support of our prayers, as they mourn the death of their much loved aunt and friend.
In the summary of her life, prior to her entering religious life, Lucy wrote: we lived a close family life of mixed farming. I attended the state school until I left at the age of fourteen. I remained with my family; joined in the local social life, making my debut at the parish ball. My faith journey began by reading the Annals of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and knowing an MSC priest and his parents. I also met our Sisters when they were in Toowoomba. My mother gave me the impression that she thought I would stay with her until the end of her life, but the good Lord had other ideas.
In February 1953, Lucy wrote to the Provincial of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart: It has been my desire for some time now to become a member of your Congregation if it be God’s will. Rev Mother in Toowoomba gave me ‘Fire upon the Earth’, also some pamphlets when I saw her before Christmas. I will now await further word from you.
In April of the same year, the Parish Priest of Clifton wrote to the Provincial: I am informed by Lucy Bange that she has been accepted by you as a Postulant in your great Order. She leaves this parish to pursue her Holy Vocation, with my complete accord, my good wishes and my priestly blessing. I am confident she will be a credit to her holy calling to the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and to the Master she has served and loved so faithfully over the years in this parish.
And so it was that in July, 1953 Lucy left the farming community and her home of almost thirty three years to become a postulant at Hartzer Park. Here she was given the name in religion of Sr Lucie Marie. In later years, she changed back to her own name of Lucy, spelt with a ‘y’.
After her first profession Sr Lucy moved to Kensington where her apostolate was to the Sisters in the large community. Lucy’s duties were many and she carried them out in her quiet, unassuming manner. Nothing was ever too much trouble for her. At the end of eighteen months at Kensington, Lucy’s ‘dream’ of being appointed to the Missions was realized and she left for Nauru, in the Central Pacific. Here, for the next five and a half years, Lucy cared for the needs of the Sisters and also taught domestic science and sewing to the school girls.
In 1962 Lucy’s apostolate to the people of Papua New Guinea began, when she was appointed to the mission of Vunapope, where she remained for three years before moving to Rabaul for another four years. In both these places, she listed her apostolate as domestic duties within the community. Her mission, however was not limited to the Sisters, but was far reaching to all those with whom she came in contact, either within the Convent environs, or out amongst the local people in their villages and the students in the school. Lucy’s gentle manner touched so many hearts.
The next fifteen years found Lucy on Yule Island where she was appointed to the Novitiate as the assistant to the Novice mistress, Sr Pancratius. Here Lucy, trained, the Novices in the practical skills of cooking, sewing and gardening. As well as working with the Novices, Lucy also managed the Novitiate books and was the Socia, overseeing the everyday running of the Novitiate. Lucy was known for her deep love of the Mass and her faithfulness to her prayer. She was also noted for her common sense, her complete devotedness to duty and her competence, having the ability to turn her hand to anything that was asked of her.
Lucy attended the four month Emmaus Course at Baulkham Hills in Sydney, after completing these fifteen years at the Novitiate. She then returned to PNG where she spent another fifteen years between the missions at Vunapope, Yule Is, Veifa’a and Fane. In all these places, Lucy continued to look after the needs of the Sisters within the Community, whilst maintaining her pastoral ministry to those in need.
In 1999, Lucy returned to Australia, where she joined the community at Tara. Here she had the joy of being close to her family, as well as continuing her roll within the Sisters’ community; being a visible presence in the town; offering a listening ear, compassion and friendship to the lonely and those in need in the wider community, including the parish priest. She and Sr Sarah were well known for their friendliness and for their willingness to join in the town’s activities. Lucy and Sarah remained at Tara until Easter 2005 when it was necessary for the Sisters to withdraw from Tara. They then moved to Corinda.
In Corinda, although Lucy indicated she was ‘retired’, she continued to share in the cooking duties for the community, and joined in the parish and neighbourhood social activities, including the parish bus trips. It was, however, for her gardening skills, that Lucy became very well known. Her ‘farming background’ came to the fore when she began her vegetable garden in the backyard of the cottage, next door to Coles, providing fresh produce for the Sisters’ meals. The workers from Coles also took an interest in Sister Lucy and her vegetables and sometimes provided her with polystyrene boxes for her seedlings. It is believed that the park seat donated by Coles to the Convent, was a result of the workers seeing Sr Lucy working daily in the garden and they wanted her to have somewhere on which she could sit and take a break.
Failing eyesight and ill health necessitated Lucy’s transfer to St Joseph’s in 2013. Even though the loss of her eyesight and health issues were a heavy cross to bear, Lucy continued to be the same gentle, gracious person, always grateful for all that was done for her.
When the Lord called her to Himself last Wednesday evening, Lucy quietly surrendered herself into His loving embrace, where we, pray Lucy that you will now rest in peace for all eternity.
Sr Elizabeth Little fdnsc
February 16, 2016