99-year-old former POW celebrates 80 years in the habit

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Sr Berenice Twohill celebrated 80 years as a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, one of nine anniversaries of profession for the order last week.

The Sisters renewed their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Kensington, before Bishop Terry Brady, 14 members of the clergy, family, friends and fellow Sisters.

At 99 years of age, Sr Berenice Twohill has celebrated 80 years as a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
At 99 years of age, Sr Berenice Twohill has celebrated 80 years as a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

Together the Sisters have lived out their vows for a combined 530 years.

Sr Berenice, who turns 100 later this year, was working in Papua New Guinea in 1941 when World War II reached the Pacific.

Held as a prisoner of war alongside Australian, German and Dutch religious and nurses, she witnessed war-time atrocities carried out by Japanese troops.

“We saw the torture ourselves, we saw what they did, it was terrible,” Sr Berenice said in a 2003 interview for the Australians at War Film Archive.

“There was not a thing you could do, just not a thing, you just had to watch it.”

As Sr Berenice celebrated 80 years of profession, Sr Jane Frances Dempsy, a nurse in Papua New Guinea, marked 70 years.

In retirement she worked tirelessly to provide for the needs of the sisters who were still on the mission fields

The two now reside at St Joseph’s Aged Care Facility.

Three Sisters celebrated 60 years of religious life.

Sr Claudette Hiosan, after years in teaching and formation in Australia, Kiribati and South Africa, is continuing in active ministry as procurator for the cause of canonisation of Blessed Benedict Daswa, a South African school principal.

Sr Ancilla White served as teacher and principal over many years.

Sr Carmen Savage served as teacher and nurse in Wadeye and Daly River in the Northern Territory.

Srs Delia Donahoe, Elizabeth Little, Carmel Smith, Tess Ward, Carmen Savage, Ancilla White and Claudette Hiosan renewed their vows as Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart last week.
Srs Delia Donahoe, Elizabeth Little, Carmel Smith, Tess Ward, Carmen Savage, Ancilla White and Claudette Hiosan renewed their vows as Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart last week.

Four Sisters also marked golden jubilees.

Sr Delia Donahoe, who served as a teacher in PNG, used her considerable artistic skills to teach evangelisation.

Sr Elizabeth Little has spent most of her 50 years as a teacher and school principal in Darwin and in the remote areas of Wadeye (Port Keats) and Nguiu (Bathurst Island), as well as chancellor of the diocese of the Northern Territory.

She is now the Provincial Leader of the Australian Province of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

Sr Carmel Smith not only worked as a teacher but as an artist whose beautiful works teach and inspire all who view them.

Sr Tess Ward used her considerable language skills in her ministries in Nguiu and Wadeye. She translated teaching materials into native languages and, during the transition from Indonesian rule to self-government, into Tetum language for East Timorese children.

Sr Helen Simpson described the jubilarians as “faithful, consecrated, dedicated, persevering, loving, kind-hearted, self-less, fearless”.

“Let us continue to honour and celebrate them,” she said.