By Eric Martin and Josh Low
Last weekend marked a historic event in the mission of the Little Sisters of the Poor, as WA’s bishops, members of the clergy, and hundreds of lay people flocked to their Glendalough Home on Saturday 31 August.
More than 300 guests filled the chapel to capacity to witness the dedication and consecration of the newly built chapel and altar, marking the completion of the rebuilding project and the official opening of the Glendalough Home.
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB presided the liturgy, which included the Rite of Dedication, and was joined by Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey, and Geraldton Emeritus Bishop Justin Bianchini.
Relics of Saints Gaudentia, Gaudiosus, John Eudes, Placidus and Septimus, along with a first class relic – a fragment from the bone of the Little Sisters’ foundress, St Jeanne Jugan, were placed in the altar as part of ceremonial tradition.
Archbishop Costelloe said the consecration and dedication of this chapel, the altar, blessing and opening of the whole facility was an occasion he felt privileged to be a part of.
“I really want to invite you to enter into the beauty of this very rich and very symbolic celebration that we are about to share together,” he said.
“It will help each one of us to understand who we are as the Church, as people of God and what lies at the very heart of who we are.”
Central to the Archbishop’s homily were the words of St Jeanne Jugan, quoted by the Archbishop in reference to the caring heart and charism of the order:
“Jesus is waiting for you in the chapel. Go and find him when your strength and patience are giving out.
“When you feel lonely and helpless, say to Him, you know well what is happening my dear Jesus, I have only you, come to my aid, and then go on your way and don’t worry about how you are going to manage, it is enough to have told our good Lord – he has an excellent memory,” Archbishop Costelloe added.
The Little Sisters of the Poor Mother Provincial Ann Marie James was present for the ceremony and delivered heart-felt words of gratitude, both to everyone who attended and to those who participated in the construction of the new facilities.
She then read a message from Mother General Maria del Monte Auxiliadora in France, who visited Glendalough in 2017 and was present at the laying of the foundation stone, which she fondly remembers.
In her message, the Mother General acknowledged all present, with deep gratitude and sincerity:
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Salim Lee, our architect, great friend and benefactor, working closely with the architect Frank del Borrello and the master builder Marc Jones, and to the numerous tradesmen who have worked so hard on this site so that our residents, as well as our staff members, Jeanne Jugan Associates and volunteers, can now enjoy the beauty and comfort of modern facilities just two years on from the laying of the foundation stone, and one year before the Home will be celebrating its centenary, as 2020 will mark 100 years since the arrival of the Little Sisters in Perth,” she said.
“Last but not least, I would like to express our heartful thanks to each and every one of our kind friends and benefactors who have been intermediaries of Divine Providence for us in funding the total reconstruction of this House. Without your support, we could never have undertaken such a big project.”
The Little Sisters of the Poor have been providing accommodation and support in Glendalough in accordance with the tenets of St Jeanne Jugan since 1921.
Having begun construction in 2017 on the demolished remains of the former home, the new facility was ready for occupancy from 24 July 2019.
The Glendalough Home is a purpose-built modern facility with features such as a luxuriously appointed lounge, newly landscaped gardens and courtyards, a large barbeque gathering area that families are welcome and a superbly designed layout that utilises a street scape –residents’ rooms resemble the front of a small house and are situated along two corridors that look identical to an urban street, complete with gardens, benches and street lights.