Margaret’s special day here in Alice Springs has come and gone, leaving wonderful memories not just for her, but also for those who joined with her on the Feast of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
When Margaret and I first began planning her Alice Springs Jubilee celebration, we did not realise just how much like ‘Topsie’ it would become. After Easter, we sat and made lists of what we would need to do, who to invite, and what we would plan for a light lunch following the Mass. We did not factor into the initial planning the fact that with it being on the Feast of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, it meant that Fr. Raass SVD would ensure it was going to be a CELEBRATION. Not only because of Margaret’s anniversary. It was the Feast of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart patroness of the Parish.
After informing Fr. Raass, the preparations expanded and so did the delegating. The Parish Hospitality Committee took over the catering ; the OLSH Associates put in towards a celebratory cake (a lovely sponge with whipped cream as seen in the photo); when it became apparent there would be almost 100 at the lunch, extra tables and chairs were borrowed from the OLSH College at Sadadeen, along with crockery, glasses and cutlery for 100. During our initial planning stage, Margaret and I had bought blue and white streamers and balloons for decorating the Parish Centre and courtyard. These were used by the Hospitality Committee, along with others they had also bought. Margaret went through the cupboard for table cloths and some saw use after years of being stored. The local Vinnie’s bought Margaret a large native flower arrangement for use at Mass. We were fortunate that Fr. Brian Healey’s memorial Mass was held on Friday evening, so there were flowers from that Mass as well. Sr. Anne Surtees OSU, our Parish Liturgist designed and developed the Mass power point, even to placing dragonflies throughout the Mass along with various depictions of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Even the florist from whom we obtained Margaret’s corsage presented it to her as a gift of thanks for her years of service!
There was also the interstate assistance – OLSH cards and prayers from Fr. Meany; OLSH cards and novenas from the OLSH National Shrine; and OLSH novenas from Sr. Anchilla. And we cannot thank Sr. Carmel enough for the beautiful hangings of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart which held the place of honour behind the altar. They were up in time for Fr. Brian’s Mass, and have been admired by many. They definitely look ‘at home’ against the sandstone bricks with the sun shining through the windows!
The weather was beautiful, and the last sunny, warm day we have had before the rain and cooler weather set in. Those of us who lived at OLSH Convent 10 Hartley St. would find it hard to believe how many people (almost 100) could be seated at tables in that courtyard. Blue and white was the colour of the day, thanks to the creativity of the Parish Hospitality Committee. Anthony Hays (a friend of Sr. Anchilla) and his son were up all night cooking the spitted pig!
The Mass of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was at 11am. Fred Twohig, an old friend of Margaret, was the commentator before and during Mass, then MC at the lunch. Margaret had chosen the readings and Hymns for the Mass from her 50th Anniversary Mass. Our choir was small, but the singing of the congregation made up for the volume we did not have.
Margaret, along with Liz, processed into Mass with the SVDs of the Parish – Raass, Prakash, Olivier and Jim Knight along with Malcolm Fyfe, who was invited and also represented Bishop Eugene who could not come due to confirmations at Katherine the following day.
Mary Stevens proclaimed the First Reading and Sue Bain, an Associate, the Second Reading. Raass proclaimed the Gospel. Malcolm gave the Homily, capturing Margaret’s life as well as her mission over the years.
The statue of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was taken from the Shrine and placed in front of, and to one side of the altar. After she renewed her vows, Margaret placed her candle holder (painted with gum leaves and blossom) near the statue.
Margaret and Mary Clair took up the gifts at the Offertory accompanied by two of Margaret’s friends. Other members of the Parish were Communion Ministers as the SVDs allowed her friends to participate in the Mass as much as possible.
The Mass concluded with the singing of “Woman of the Sacred Heart”. Many, including non-Catholic friends from work who had not heard it before, said how much the words of the hymn affected them, as it was so real. Of course, after Mass was time for photos within the Church, especially around the altar and the hangings.
Then it was time to go across to the courtyard. We entered the JP11 Meeting Room where I had made posters of Margaret’s life, using the long version I had previously written and placing the story with photos into themes so it was easier for people to read and follow. It certainly led to many interesting conversations and stories around the tables.
After the meal and the cutting of the Anniversary Cake, most of us sat around until almost 3pm when it began getting cool. It was amazing how quickly everything was cleaned and packed up! It was a wonderful day, as so many people had come together to be with Margaret. Personally, I felt so happy to see how what was once our home is now being opened to the wider community for such a wonderful occasion.
Margaret’s celebration was certainly a time when the OLSH Parish came together. Now we are awaiting the other 60th Celebrations later this year: Fr. Jim Knight SVD and Sr. Magdali LSJ.