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Sr. Bernadette on the move!

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Sr. Bernadette Duffy was recently elected to the Leadership Team of her Congregation. You may read her full letter below. We obviously will continue to keep her in our prayers as she embarks on this difficult journey. Her work with the poor in South Africa continues and we will, of course, continue to support her.

20 November 2019

Dear Fr Powell and Parishioners

Greetings from South Africa.

I take this opportunity to share with you some changes that will take place for me from December this year.

Background: This year in June/July a delegation of Holy Cross Sisters met in Rome for what we call a General Chapter.

You might be asking what is a General Chapter? Good question.

A General Chapter is an international (world-wide) meeting of Holy Cross Sisters that takes place every six years. At this meeting new leadership is chosen and they are mandated (given) a message for all Holy Cross Sisters, Staff of Holy Cross Schools and Nursing Homes and Friends of Holy Cross, through the world. The message of our recent Chapter (meeting) is:

Rooted in Christ – be a Transforming Presence!

I will come back to this message in a moment.

How does this affect me? Well, at this recent General Chapter (worldwide meeting) I was chosen to join our Congregational Leadership Team (the leading team of Sisters for the Holy Cross Sisters in the world). This new responsibility has come as a major surprise to me, but I must say a great honour. What does it entail? It will mean I leave South Africa and go to live in Switzerland, the founding place of Mother Bernarda and Fr Theodosius, for six years. It will mean working with all 1578 sisters throughout four continents of the world, Asia, Europe, Africa and South America. It will mean travelling to many different countries among them Pakistan, Iraq, India, Chile, Sri Lanka, Europe and Africa.  That’s the practical side of things.

The General Chapter Message.

The most important work I will do is to bring the message of our General Chapter to the world where all Holy Cross Sisters are. The message is:

Rooted in Christ – be a Transforming Presence.

To ensure this message is to be lived out is what I will spend the next 6 years of my life doing.

How will I do that? It will take many different shapes and designs. But at the heart of the message the leadership team will be asking all ourselves, our sisters and associates:

How are we being a Transforming Presence in our school, family, workplaces, parishes and society today?

THIS IS MY CALL - THIS IS OUR CALL to be immersed in human reality and to be a transforming presence in our context today wherever we live. We will seek to live our message in how we will lead the congregation, how we live our Charism (the Paschal Mystery), how we engage in personal, communal and social formation, how we care for our common earth and how we promote our Holy Cross Spirituality.

Living the Paschal Mystery transforms us to become His presence in our changing and challenging world.  Our whole way of life is deeply rooted in God, Mk. 3:14. The contemplative dimension in its fullest understanding will permeate all aspects of formation.  


Through our mission and apostolic work we will seek to:

  • Bring new life and hope amid death and suffering, John 10:10.
  • Seek by our contemplative and prophetic life to immerse ourselves among the people on the margins of society, the poor and homeless.
  • Answer the needs of the time, in our respective contexts, that together we will live the Holy Cross Charism. 
  • Cultivate the consciousness of belonging together in our diversity through collaboration and networking which brings strength to our ministries.
  • Embrace as co-creators God’s creation and in solidarity we take measures to live sustainably.  
  • Commit ourselves to promote justice, mercy and equality in the globalisation of our world.

This is what we are called to do and for the best part have been doing since the beginning of the congregation 175 years ago. Maybe what is different is the context we live in and the present day needs that we face, especially with modern technology (4th Industrial Revolution on our doorsteps) and the challenges we face with our endangered earth.

As I prepare to leave South Africa on the 6th of December I wish to say a BIG THANK you to each and every one of you for the ongoing support you have given to me for the past 34 years, ever since I left home to go as a missionary to South Africa. Your generosity and efforts to support my ministry and myself personally shall never be forgotten. South Africa remains my home province as a Holy Cross Sister, hence after six years in Switzerland I will return to South Africa and continue my work there. What I will be doing I do not know but it will surely meet the needs of the congregation and church. In my absence my work among the poor will continue and your ongoing support will still be much appreciated. Catherine will continue to keep you informed about the needs in South Africa.

May the Lord keep you all strong.

God bless,

With deep appreciation always

Sr Bernadette Duffy


'May Jesus live in our hearts. ‘ (Mother Bernarda)




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