Inspired to love the Holy Cross through religious life
By Josh Low
For Sisters Magdalene and Mary, seeing the joy that Christ brought to the lives of nuns in their hometowns served as inspiration for them to ‘come and see’.
Having now been in the Congregation of the Lovers of the Holy Cross Quinhon for 15 and 13 years respectively, they hope to be faithful and effective witnesses to Jesus’ love on the cross and play their part in His salvific mission.
The Lovers of the Holy Cross Quinhon has approximately 500 Sisters and is one of 24 Congregations of the Lovers of the Holy Cross originating in Vietnam in 1670.
The Sisters commit themselves to daily prayer, with specific intentions for the conversion of those who do not know God and those who have strayed from the faith.
Along with contemplation and asceticism, their spirituality is expressed through the apostolate.
Based in New Norfolk and having been involved in the Archdiocesan community for six years, Sr Magdalene and Sr Mary’s ministry involves providing formation for the Vietnamese Catholic community, administering Holy Communion to the elderly and sick, assisting where they can at St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School, and with CatholicCare’s Early Learning and Care service at New Town. They have also previously worked with local Syrian and Iraqi refugee families.
Both Sisters bear similar stories of how they came to the Congregation of the Lovers of the Holy Cross Quinhon.
Sr Mary first considered religious life because of the Sisters she encountered in her hometown.
“There were a lot of Sisters in my parish who taught us the Catechism every Sunday and helped me to discover my vocation.
“I remember thinking that the sisters; the way they wore their habits was so beautiful.
“They were so joyful and happy to serve, always with smiles on their faces.
“I saw that beauty inside them and looked up to them,” Sr Mary said.
“I went to experience life with the Sisters for myself and that is where I experienced God’s call for me.”
Sr Magdalene said one Sister in particular, had a big impact on her growing up.
“At the time I didn’t know about vocations – about married life, religious life or anything. I just wanted to be like her.
“Now I can see that what I saw was God working through her.”
Sr Magdalene said ministry in Australia is different to what they experienced in Vietnam.
“We have had to adapt to the culture and needs of the people, and always discern what the Church needs from us.
“But it’s very peaceful living here in Tasmania and also nice to be present with people and develop meaningful relationships,” she said.
Sr Mary said one major difference the Sisters had experienced in Tasmania was difficulty talking about Catholicism.
“So, we wear the habit – this way people know who we are as nuns.
“We don’t necessarily always talk about God, but we just share our life, try to be a good witness and hopefully this speaks louder than words and people can see God through us,” she said.
“All we do is sow the seeds and through God’s grace in the future we trust there will be fruit.”
Sr Magdalene and Sr Mary said religious life is a gift from God; a specific calling by which one participates in Christ’s salvific mission.
“We can’t do big things, but we can do the small things with a big love – by praying for the Church and the Archdiocese and to be active in the life of the Church and encourage people in their faith,” Sr Magdalene said.
“Never be afraid of offering your life to God because when He calls someone, He will give the power of His grace in order that you are able to fulfil His calling and find great joy and happiness as well.”