There is an accessible version of this website. You can click here to switch now or switch to it at any time by clicking Accessibility in the footer.

Little Sisters of the Poor honours 101 years in WA and opening of new independent-living villa

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe cuts the ribbon of the new independent-living space, named Holy Family Villa at the Little Sisters of the Poor Aged Care Facility, with Little Sisters of the Poor Congregation Provincial Superior Mother Angela Bernard of Mary, the architect and a new resident on Friday 19 March. Photo: Max Hoh.

By Amanda Murthy

The Little Sisters of the Poor (LSP) gathered with residents, Archdiocesan priests and special guests to give thanks for 101 years of presence in WA, on Friday, 19 March on the feast of Saint Joseph.

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB celebrated the Mass as well as the opening and blessing of a new independent-living space, named Holy Family Villa within the LSP Glendalough Facility.

Concelebrants for the occasions included Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey, Geraldton Emeritus Bishop Justin Bianchini, St Marys Cathedral Dean Rev Dr Sean Fernandez, Archdiocese of Perth’s Vicar General, the Very Rev Father Peter Whitely VG, Little Sisters of the Poor Chaplain Rev Fr Gordon Howell, Rev Dr Joe Parkinson OP and other Archdiocesan priests, together with the Resident priests who live at the Glendalough Home.

In his homily for the occasion, Archbishop Costelloe reflected on Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Letter Patris Corde, “With a Father’s Heart” and provided words of encouragement on the centenary celebrations.

“As we thank God for the wonderful gift which this home, and it really is a home, has been and continues to be for the people of our Archdiocese, thanks to the generous commitment of so many sisters, and their associates, over the last 101 years, we have a special reason to reflect on Saint Joseph who, together with Mary, provided a loving and nurturing home for Jesus.

Recounting the Pope’s letter, Archbishop Costelloe explained the two aspects of Saint Joseph which struck him - Saint Joseph the obedient father and Saint Joseph the accepting father.

One of the new independent living spaces at the Little Sisters of the Poor Aged Care facility. Photo: Max Hoh.

“….From the moment when Mary and Joseph first became aware of the extraordinary way in which God had stepped into their lives, they must have been on a difficult journey of faith themselves as they sought to understand just what God was doing by calling them to care for Jesus as His mother and, as far as everybody was concerned, His father,” Archbishop Costelloe cited.

“To know that Jesus had been given to them, entrusted to them, by God was one thing, but to understand just what this meant and would mean, and how they were meant to respond to this overwhelming reality in their lives, would have been another thing all together. 

“….Each one of us would know from our own experience that it is not always easy to understand, let alone accept and embrace in faith, what God is doing in our lives and what God is asking of us in our journey,” Archbishop Costelloe added.

“Like Joseph and Mary, we do not always understand.  In our times of confusion and doubt, we can look to Joseph and Mary, not only for an example to follow but also for their prayerful support, as we seek to be accepting of, and obedient to, the call of God.”

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe watches as the plaque of the new independent living space is unveiled at the Little Sisters of the Poor. Photo: Max Hoh.

Mother Superior of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Perth, Sister Marie Bernard spoke to The Record at the conclusion of the events, citing that the dual occasions, provided another great opportunity to “thank God for His unfailing help and protection, particularly during this time of the pandemic.

“The Feast of St Joseph is very important to us. This is another reason why we coincided the celebrations on his feast day. We look to him as our wonderful provider and protector,” Mother Bernard said.

“(In carrying out our mission) it is obvious that there is that great need to help and care for our elderly in our aging population; more than ever, we are aware that our vocation to see Jesus in the elderly and to care for them with dignity and respect, is of the utmost importance in today’s world, given the threats to human life.

“We are sustained and helped to keep going by a life of commitment to prayer, strong community life and closeness to the elderly residents in our care,” she added.

The Holy Family Villa is equipped with 12 units - each unit comprising of a spacious open-plan lounge and kitchenette, complete with a large fridge, cooking top, oven and microwave. There is a large en-suite bathroom, washing machine and access to a common coin operated dryer.

Mother Bernard explained that with the Holy Family villa, the Sisters can extend a helping hand to the wider community who are still independent. The residents who live in the Holy Family villas also bring new life and interests to the Aged Care Facility (opened in August 2019) residents.

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, centre, with Geraldton Emeritus Bishop Justin Bianchini, far left, Perth Vicar General Fr Peter Whitely VG, third from left, sisters from the Little Sisters of the Poor and fellow guests on the occasion of the opening of the new independent living space. Photo: Max Hoh.

“We welcome elderly people of modest means who wish to come to independent-living for various reasons: for example for greater security, or because they are unable to afford the rent where they are living, or for those who, while desiring to profit of the company and security needed at the end of their days, do not feel ready yet for an Aged Care Facility but wish to avail of the spiritual atmosphere with the possibility of the Eucharist every day,” Mother Bernard explained.

“There is a great need for affordable housing rental for the lower income elderly group and the number of elderly people who may feel more vulnerable.”

The Little Sisters of the Poor have been providing accommodation and support in WA in accordance with the tenets of Saint Jeanne Jugan, since 1920. The first Little Sisters home in Australia was pioneered in Melbourne in 1884.