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Sr Mary Grace says ‘Yes’ to God’s love

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The newly professed Sisters of Life, including Sr Mary Grace are congratulated by fellow members of their religious community during a special Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on 5 August. Photo: OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz
The newly professed Sisters of Life, including Sr Mary Grace are congratulated by fellow members of their religious community during a special Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on 5 August. Photo: OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

Sister of Life Mary Grace says the graces of her vocation are not only to make her heart full, but yours too.

The 33-year-old Sydney Catholic recently made her final profession along with six others before New York Cardinal archbishop Timothy Dolan in a packed St Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.

Cardinal Dolan called upon the women to continue to “change the culture of death into the culture of life.”

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Sr Mary Grace said that before the special day on 5 August she became overwhelmed anew at the wonder of the gift of life.

“God reawakened my heart to the miracle it is to know that we’re not simply alive but that we exist even right now, because his love makes it possible,” she told The Catholic Weekly.

“You and I are wanted and pursued ceaselessly by our God who created us to know his tender, never-ending love for us.

“Then on my actual profession day, I was utterly amazed and honoured to give my humble little ‘yes’ to this love who is Christ himself.

“My heart’s intention on that day was that the hope I have come to know in Jesus Christ, reaches to the ends of the earth and not one heart misses out on what I have found to be true.”

Around 40 family members and friends travelled from Australia to join Sr Mary Grace for the occasion.

She returned with them to spend some time in Australia before moving from New York where she has been based, to live and serve in Denver, Colorado in the community’s evangelisation mission.

She said she prayed for Australia’s World Youth Day pilgrims in Lisbon on her profession day and had this advice for them and all young people and young adults.

“Listen to Christ who speaks to your heart and do not be afraid to share your honest heart with him,” she said.

Sr Mary Grace with her family. Photo: Supplied
Sr Mary Grace with her family. Photo: Supplied

“Seek his will and trust no matter what, because our God is for us and following him is the greatest adventure this side of heaven.

“The cross is key to our journeys, but Christ carries us on that path too and with him, all things are possible—new things possible, the unimaginable is now possible.

“Trust him with all your heart and he will keep working wonders. He truly is worth it all.”

A graduate of Tangara School for Girls in Cherrybrook and the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sr Mary Grace (previously known as Jessica Langrell) worked as the chaplaincy convenor for the university and organised events for young adults in the Archdiocese of Sydney before joining the Sisters of Life.

She is one of two Aussie women who have joined the relatively new religious institute but the first to make long-life vows. The other is former ABC journalist Nancy Webb, now Sr Rose Patrick.

A previous archbishop of New York, Cardinal John O’Connor, inspired the genesis of the Sisters of Life in 1991 with an newspaper column entitled, “Help Wanted: Sisters of Life.”

Eight women founded the institute on 1 June 1991, which has now grown to more than 100 sisters. The community has both active and contemplative aspects and the sisters make the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience plus a fourth vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of every human life.

In her 10 years already of religious life Sr Mary Grace has ministered to vulnerable women and their unborn children as well as women suffering after an abortion, assisted at retreats, given talks, co-hosted a podcast and much more.

“Our community is committed to spreading the good news of the sacredness and wonder of every human life,” she said.

“No matter what our history, our circumstances, abilities or lack of abilities, we have a God that brings beauty out of ashes, light in darkness and nothing can separate us from his love.

“The Sisters of Life’s mission of evangelisation proclaims these truths we’re all eager to hear and make them known to every heart, especially those who are vulnerable to abortion, carrying heavy burdens or doubting the gift of their own lives.

“There is no sin or setback that can keep God’s love from making all things new.”

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