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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Sister That Loves to Preach

By Lara Pickford-Gordon

In 50 years of service to God and Church, Sr Mary Martin OP thinks her contribution has been her ability to preach and “open” the scriptures to people. In an interview with the Catholic News, Sr Mary said when she celebrated her 25th anniversary of consecrated life, she had wondered if she would make the 50th. But God had given her strength to go on. “Wherever He wants me to work, there I am.”
Sr Mary Martin Joseph OP sings as she and her ‘sisters’ present the gifts. At left is her biological sister, Sr Claire Joseph SJC. Behind are Sisters Gail Jagroop OP and Christina Araujo OP. Photo Raymond Syms
Sr Mary Martin Joseph OP sings as she and her ‘sisters’ present the gifts. At left is her biological sister, Sr Claire Joseph SJC. Behind are Sisters Gail Jagroop OP and Christina Araujo OP. Photo Raymond Syms

Asked what she has brought to service over the years, she smiled and said, “I love to preach.”

Based on the feedback she has received, she said she believed God has blessed her with this ability: “Opening the scriptures to people and seeing how they respond to it and trying to get people to get closer to God because the closer you get to him the more grounded you will be.”

She has studied the scriptures and did courses, including in Rome. She takes time almost every week for Lectio Divina (slow contemplative praying of the scriptures).

Last week Saturday, family, friends and people whose lives Sr Mary has touched gathered at Our Lady of Fatima RC Church, Curepe, to celebrate her golden jubilee.

Fr Ferdinand Warner OP, who presided at the Mass, said Sr Mary had given powerful witness in the way in which “zeal for God’s life” consumed her.

“There was always a big concern for the poor, for justice, for right treatment and for service and outreach and at that time she was living in the convent, the monastery and at the time it was a little more challenging to be out and mingling but she found a way,” Fr Warner said.

Concelebrants were Frs Dexter Brereton CSSp, Steve Ransome and Wilfred John.

Sr Mary was cloistered at the Rosary Monastery, St Ann’s, until 2000. The following year she transferred to the Sinsinawa Dominicans.

Fr Warner said zeal for God’s house was always burning in Sr Mary’s heart.
“Every time we sat down to plan anything, talk about anything, reflect on the scriptures with an intention of going out to ministry there was always a strong, strong justice element of her ministry because there was a zeal for God’s house, not just mortar and bricks but people.”

Fr Warner said the life flowing from God’s sanctuary went into Sr Mary’s service and work. “She gives tremendous life to people,” he added.

Last week Saturday was the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica and in the homily Fr Warner spoke about the importance of a church. Although people could pray anywhere at any time, a church served a specific purpose in giving focus, he stated.
“In a church building there is something different. Everything here reminds us God is part of our lives.” He noted that people might get “vex” when others did not dress appropriately or talked too much in church. This was because a church was not just a gathering place but a place to experience “the presence of God in a different way”, he said.
Fr Warner said a church was meant to convey the life of God so people would expect to find something which inspired and motivated them to do good and live well. He added that a church was not only a blessed place but also a consecrated place because it was anointed with Oil of Chrism, which was to signify that the church was a life-giving place. “Here is where the people of God come for the Body of Christ. So this is where we come to draw life.”

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