Ave Maria, it’s a girl!
Feature: Life begins at 40! Religious life, that is
Fr Phil Linder, parish priest of All Saints Liverpool, watches as Sr Pam Grime makes her life vows;
Pam Grime’s decision at the age of 40 to look at committing herself to religious life came as a surprise to her family and friends.
But it was as big a surprise to her as it was to them, she says.
And when she made life vows as a Sister of Charity before them all at All Saints Church, Liverpool, it was an “affirming experience”.
“They have grown with this as I have,” she says.
As a nurse at St Joseph’s Hospital, Auburn, Pam was invited to the celebration in 1988 marking the 150th anniversary of the Sisters of Charity in Australia.
She had toyed with the idea of religious life, but during that day she suddenly knew that she had to do something about it.
“It was pretty amazing,” she says.
“I thought: ‘Ok, I have to try it and then get on with my life.’
“But it didn’t happen like that, it just continued to evolve.
“I was quite happy with my work and quite independent – it was a big life change. Some people had great difficulty understanding it.”
Pam worked in hospitals at Newcastle, Lewisham and Concord – as well as St Joseph’s – before joining the congregation.
She had been taught by the Sisters of Charity at St Mary’s Primary School and St Mary’s Girls’ High School (now All Saints Primary and All Saints Girls’ High) on the same block as All Saints Church.
She spent her novitiate at the Sisters of Charity formation house in Liverpool, so the parishioners came out in force to support her on the big day as well.
During her pre-novitiate and novitiate years, Pam spent time working at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, and with the Kairos prison ministry program.
Today Pam ministers with the Sisters of Charity Outreach in its eastern area visiting program, providing respite for carers of people with dementia and visiting frail, aged, isolated shut-in people as well as young people with disabilities in the eastern suburbs.
Fr Phil Linder, parish priest of All Saints, Liverpool, was the principal celebrant at Sr Pam’s Mass, and Fr Peter McGrath, parish priest of St Francis of Assisi, Paddington, assisted.
Sr Dorothy Maher asked the congregation at the Mass to consider what would lead a woman to make such a radical choice and freely undertake life vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and service of the poor – the fourth vow taken by all Sisters of Charity.
“Perhaps it is the Spirit’s way of challenging each one of us to look at the choices we each make in our own lives and prodding each of us to a deeper faith, an unexpected conversion and a greater trust,” she said.
Sr Pam’s friends helped her make banners for the church.
Sr Lenore Murphy hand-painted candles for the altar inscribed with the congregation motto, The love of Christ impels us, and Abide in my love, Sr Pam’s personal motto.