Four FCJ Sisters from the Sacred Heart community in Calgary celebrated Jubilees this Summer. They tell their stories in this piece that first appeared in the Diocese of Calgary blog on 22 August 2022.
Sisters in religious life celebrate jubilee years as consecrated members in their community to commemorate their vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. Grateful for God’s blessing in religious vocation, we invite you to read these wonderful and inspiring stories from some of the 2022 jubilarian sisters in our Diocese. May our life be inspired by their deep relationship with God and service for God’s people.
Below are stories from 4 Faithful Companions of Jesus Sisters, submitted by FCJ Calgary:
Sr. Marjorie Perkins, FCJ – 70 years of vocation
Sr. Patricia (Pat) Halpin, FCJ – 65 years of vocation
Sr. Mary Rose Rawlinson, FCJ – 60 years of vocation
Sr. Donna Marie, FCJ – 60 years of vocation
Sr. Marjorie Perkins, FCJ
Sister Marjorie Perkins, FCJ on the occasion of her 70th Anniversary of Vows
My vocation is the gift of God to me – to be his companion, to be invited to be his companion. I am never alone. The Lord is in this life with me. I’m 90. Did you know that? The goodness of God all these years is unlimited, beyond anything that we can conjure up. It is the companionship with the Lord and with each other that is the core of our lives. It explains who we are. Being companions of Jesus is a reality, not just a title.
Sr. Marjorie was born and raised in Calgary. She attended St. Mary’s Girls’ High School as a boarder at Sacred Heart Convent. After making her vows on August 15, 1952, she travelled to England for further studies and then was a student at the University of Toronto. A year at the University of Alberta led to a teaching position in Calgary at St. Mary’s Girls’. Over a number of years Sr. Marjorie taught and was also involved in administration. Some of her former students recall geography and religion lessons in particular. Piano lessons were another of her gifts. She went to Gonzaga University for the year 1972-’73 where she gained an MA degree. Toronto was home for ten years and there she taught at Madonna and later at St. Mary’s High Schools.
A new adventure awaited Marjorie in Santiago del Estero, Argentina, from 1987-‘91. She loved the opportunities of visiting the people in their little homes in very poor locations, sitting on a little fruit box and enjoying a “mate” with the families.
Her next mission was back in Calgary for several years as coordinator of the T.E.A.M. Program, Together Enabling Adults in Ministry, at the FCJ Christian Life Centre. Later she lived in St. Albert the Great Parish with two other FCJs. One way that she contributed to the parish was by offering Scripture courses.
Now Sr. Marjorie finds her home and place of service in Swan Evergreen Village. She and her bird, Perla, thoroughly enjoy chatting with the people there.
Sr. Patricia (Pat) Halpin, FCJ
Sister Patricia is celebrating 65 years of Vows
This has been my whole life. Being FCJ means I am connected with other people who are FCJs. They may not be the same length of time but the connection is there. This sense of connection grew as I got to know more about FCJs. Working and living with a wide variety of people was very enriching. You pick up different things from different people so it is broadening.
Sister Pat Halpin entered the Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus on February 2, 1955. Following her vows in August 1957, she went to Toronto and became a student at the U of T. She did her teacher training at Sedgley Park College, Manchester, and then returned to Toronto to study for her Master of Arts.
Sr. Pat taught high school in Edmonton from 1964 to 1980 and then served four years as Religious Education Consultant. She returned to teaching high school and also was engaged in rewriting the Religious Education program for Grade Nine in 1992-93. 2006-07 was spent in Toronto, London, England and Paris. This time was followed by Pat moving into volunteer work back in Edmonton. She served in palliative care in the Royal Alexandra Hospital, as a regular volunteer at L’Arche and as Communion minister at the University Hospital.
She was spiritual advisor for the CWL of St. Joseph’s College at the U of A from 2011 to 2014. For health reasons, Sr. Pat moved to Calgary and is presently appreciating life at Providence Care Centre.
Sr. Mary Rose Rawlinson, FCJ
Sister Mary Rose is celebrating 60 years of Vows.
Mary Rose was born in Yorkton, Saskatchewan and managed to live in the three prairie provinces as well as in BC by the time she was 8. After making first vows in Calgary, she returned briefly to St. Mary’s Girls’ High School and was then missioned to Portsmouth, RI, where she taught grades 3 and 4 by day and studied Grade 12 through the Alberta Correspondence School Branch by night.
Six years of studying Science in University College Dublin followed; here her favorite science activities were helping other science students and, as a grad student, leading chemistry tutorials for undergrad engineering students.
After her return to Calgary, she did seven courses at the U of C to obtain a B.Ed. degree. A school position was not available at the time, so she worked as a research/teaching assistant at the U of C in the Faculty of Education’s ‘Computers in Education’ section. The following year she spent teaching Math part-time at St. Mary’s Salesian School in Edmonton. This brief stint marked the end of her teaching career! For the next 45 plus years most of her ministry was in her community’s administration and leadership – as local and regional bursar, in local and provincial leadership and as the FCJ Society’s general secretary (in the UK).
In 1977-78, she worked with other FCJs on a feasibility study before the renovation of the boarding school and the opening of the FCJ Christian Life Centre; she has been an active supporter ever since. During her years as Provincial she earned an M.A. in Christian Spiritualities from Loyola University, Chicago. In 1999, she developed the first FCJ Society website and maintained it until 2016. As well she has prepared many FCJ documents and books for publication, a ministry she still enjoys. Mary Rose rejoices in the Syrian friends and families who have become ‘her’ family and only wishes that we could help more of their families who are suffering greatly in Syria today.
Sr. Donna Marie, FCJ
Sister Donna Marie is celebrating 60 years of Vows.
Donna Marie Katherine Perry was born in Edmonton, Alberta on November 26, 1941, and baptized by her uncle, Fr. Ernest Perry, on December 7, 1941. She has one older brother, Angus, and one younger sister, Margaret, both still living in Edmonton.
Her childhood was quite difficult; her mother was ill, and the three children spent about a year in an orphanage, which was not a good experience. By the time Donna was three, the family moved to a smaller village, Wildwood, Alberta, where the rest of Donna Marie’s preschool years were happier. Her parents wanted the children in Catholic school, so the family moved to Wetaskiwin, Alberta.
At age 14, Donna Marie spent one year in Scotland at a school run by the Ursulines of Jesus in Edinburgh. It was there she began to feel a call to religious life. She continued her high school education with the Faithful Companions of Jesus at a boarding school in Edmonton. At age 17, in grade 11, the call to religious life became stronger and she began the process of applying to be a Sister. She was received and entered in February of 1960, receiving the habit on August 15, 1960. Her formation took place at Sacred Heart Convent in Calgary, Alberta. She made her first vows on August 15, 1962.
She was then sent for one year to the FCJ boarding school in Switzerland where she studied French and helped with the boarders, after which came a year in Poles Convent, Hertfordshire where she completed her high school equivalency. Following her year at Poles Sister Donna Marie was sent to Sedgley Park College, Salford, England where she trained as an elementary school teacher, Major in Art and Design and minoring in French and Music.
Following three years at Sedgley, Sister Donna Marie taught for one year in St. George’s Preschool in Broadstairs, Kent. At the end of that school year Sister Donna Marie made her final vows and returned to Sacred Heart Convent, Calgary.
In Calgary, the Catholic School Board asked Sister Donna Marie to develop and teach a religious education program suitable for children with disabilities. She trained high school students to assist in this program. At this time she was asked by the bishop to find a way to attend to the needs of the deaf community. She learned American Sign Language and was joined by Fr. Bill Trienekens who said Mass in sign language. In a Faith and Sharing Retreat group two parents asked if something could be done for their adult sons who were institutionalized in Red Deer. Along with Pat and Jo Lenon and their family, Sr. Donna Marie began the Calgary L’Arche Community.
In 1981, she was missioned to an inner city FCJ community in Toronto, to be a presence to the people there. Sr. Donna Marie worked as a parish counsellor in St. Paul’s Parish, helping people in a variety of ways, from low-cost day care to parenting classes. In 1982, she spent three months in India in a Jesuit program for spirituality and counselling. When she returned to Toronto, she pursued further training in counselling. She also studied voice at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and sang with the Orpheus Choir for five years.
In 1986, she went on her Tertianship in Broadstairs, Kent. When the group went to Rome, they were privileged to attend the Mass in the St. Ignatius Chapel at which the FCJ Constitutions were approved. In 1987, Sr. Donna Marie returned to Toronto. At the invitation of Fr. Hank Nunn, SJ, Director of the Therapeutic Community for people with schizophrenia in Bangalore, India, Donna Marie returned to India for 8 years. By this time, she was fully qualified as a transactional analyst.
In 1996, she returned to Canada, to Edmonton, where she worked part-time at the Redemptorist Centre for Growth as a counsellor. At the same time, she did Clinical Pastoral Education and Pastoral Counselling Education at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. After three years, she was invited by Fr. Bill Trienekens, a Diocesan Priest of Calgary, to do part-time pastoral counselling at St. Luke’s Parish. She became a registered social worker through the Alberta College of Social Workers. That led to work on her Master’s in Psychotherapy through Middlesex University, London, England. She also sang in the choir at St. Luke’s. At the same time, Donna Marie opened a private practice and began to train others in transactional analysis. This was the beginning of Insight Counselling and Therapy Centre, which offers free and low-cost mental health services to under-served people.
In 2011 the International Transactional Analysis Association awarded Sister Donna Marie with the Hedges-Capers Humanitarian Award for her work with vulnerable people and disadvantaged people. About this time she became a counsellor for Project Rachel.
In 2013, Yorkville University sent the first student to do a practicum with Sr. Donna Marie. As more students came from various universities, Insight was able to partner with resource centers around Calgary and High River. The program has shown steady growth in the face of ever-increasing mental health needs. Sr. Donna Marie sang with the Festival Chorus during those years.