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One Door Closes Another Opens


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The title of this book 'One Door Closes Another Opens' immediately engages the reader in a story that tells of a journey of letting go of a current reality and welcoming the new. It connects the reader with the reality that in the midst of suffering, hope is born and new life emerges.The story begins with the departure of the Sisters of St Joseph from Queensland in 1880. It was with heavy hearts that Sisters who had lived and worked there for ten years, and had had many struggles with Bishop James Quinn, finally chose to leave all behind because of their commitment to the centrally-governed Religious Congregation founded by Mary MacKillop and Fr Julian Tenison Woods. Mary MacKillop herself was deeply affected by this experience. As Sister Bernadette O'Sullivan tells us, when the Sisters were leaving, Mary MacKillop broke down in tears.When the Sisters arrived in Sydney, they were welcomed with open arms by Archbishop Vaughan who was seeking Religious to teach in the Catholic schools in his diocese. Bishop Torreggiani of Armidale was also delighted to welcome some of the Sisters into his diocese. These Sisters were well trained teachers who had done a great deal to establish Catholic schools in Queensland. What a gift and a blessing! And so began a story of flourishment--out of the hardship and tears of one experience came the joy and the challenge of making new foundations across New South Wales.In this book Sr Bernadette invites us to journey with Mary MacKillop into the many scattered communities of New South Wales--into city schools, rural communities and outback towns from 1880-1909. Her journey began in a stable school in Penrith, replicating the story of the first St Joseph's School at Penola in South Australia. Like all the pioneering Sisters, the women who formed the first community at Penrith were prepared to live in poor circumstances in order to provide a Catholic education for the children of this region. The book is full of stories of such openings and tells of how Mary MacKillop journeyed, often under difficult circumstances, to support and encourage the Sisters in their commitment and mission, to spend time with the people among whom they lived and to share in their daily lives. Sometimes it meant her staying overnight in a hotel on her way to a distant destination.The reader will gain many insights by reading the numerous quotations taken from letters and records kept by the Sisters. So many spoke of Mary's kindness, of her attentiveness to their needs, of her words of encouragement and comfort and her sense of humour. Her kindness is reflected through simple actions such as replacing the worn clothing of the Sisters in Tingha, buying a box of Dominoes for the Sisters in Bombala or purchasing a type-writer to make another Sister's work easier. As Sister Bernadette has written: 'Nothing escaped her attention, neither school reports, nor anything to do with the sisters and their schools. She knew that the unity of the sisters would be ensured by her constancy in visitation, and when she could not visit, by her circular letters and her very personal letters that flowed from her busy pen to individual sisters. Few, if any, letters from the sisters remained unanswered. If she was unable to write a letter to a sister she sent a message to her by another sister'. In many different places, especially in the country, the Sisters raised money for their support by preparing the children for concerts. While these concerts were usually fund-raisers they often added a cultural richness to the small communities where they were held.

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