Three young nuns from Nashville, Tennessee, as volunteers in Sydney, Australia, are helping to prepare for World Youth Day next July.
WHAT do three religious sisters pack when they are sent to assist the largest religious gathering in Australian history? Answer: 600 rosary beads, personal prayer books, two guitars, mum's cookies and a frisbee.
Sister Mary Rachel, Sister Anna and Sister Mary Madeline are members of the Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia in Nashville, Tennessee. They arrived three weeks ago, at the invitation of the Australian event co-ordinator, Bishop Anthony Fisher, himself a Dominican.
Their presence, at a time when many sisters have shed the habit, has been a source of public wonderment. During a recent sightseeing tour of Taronga Zoo, a visiting party of school children bounced excitedly yelling, "nuns, nuns, nuns" as their teachers sought to hush them.
On their arrival at Sydney Airport, an Australian man quipped to them: "Three nuns, all in habits, all happy and young. It's the second miracle of Mary."
Sister Anna went to World Youth Day in Rome in 2000 and left transformed. "There was this moment in the [overnight] vigil," she says. "We'd walked 20 kilometres, it was 1am and we were trying to get to sleep.
"I woke up and the Pope's address had been broadcast. He said, 'There are so many of you out there but I see you one by one and I say do not be afraid to follow Christ and live radically.'
"I heard it and I thought, he is speaking to me. It was a moment of grace given of courage."
“Recent revelations that even Mother Teresa had expressed a fear of abandonment by God are evidence that no life can be perfectly fulfilled,” Sister Mary Madeline said. “It reinforced the Christian hope for a new Pentecost, a fresh kindling of the Holy Spirit in each Catholic” (From the Sidney Morning Herald)