On the 23rd of October, the FMA community in Melbourne and the SDBs from Lysterfield had the honour and privilege of celebrating Sr. Esperanza's 102 birthday, knowing full well that she prayed for and thought of everyone throughout the province today!
At 5:30pm the Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Fr Chris Ford and concelebrated by Fr Frank Bertangnolli, Fr Jim Acerman, and Fr Kelly Kam. During mass, Sr Rochelle led the music and singing, which made the Eucharistic celebration all the more festive.
For his homily, Fr Chris compared the novel by Charles Dickens ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ to that of Esperanza’s life, who has lived in three continents: the Americas, Asia and the Pacific!
He superbly chose characters from the novel to draw out the faithful, loving and committed life of Esperanza who has lived through both the joys and sorrows of family life and has lived out her life, upholding her FMA vocation in all things, no matter what.
Sr Esperanza has lived through very different times; when all was going well at one end of the spectrum and at the other, times when she had to trust in God deeply, to survive through political and social persecution against the Christian faith. Fr. Chris pointed out that her life can be summed up in her name: Esperanza is the Spanish word for hope!
All who came for Sr Esperanza's 102nd birthday experienced a joy-filled celebration indeed!
Afterwards, dinner was served which was lovingly and expertly prepared by the three pre-novices: Kamila, Sia and Julie. When the celebratory cake was presented to Esperanza it was wisely decided not to put 102 candles in it - instead, she had just the three candles to blow out; one for each digit in the age and one for each digit for each continent she has lived in!
At the end of the meal Sr Rochelle presented a touching slide show that showed of various aspects of Esperanza’s life over the years. It was paired with a song about gratitude, a very apt choice that highlighted the meaningfulness of such a gift to the province.
Naturally, Esperanza had the last word, as she expressed her gratitude to all for preparing such a lovely and enjoyable evening. She articulated how happy she felt after all everyone had done for her but in keeping in line with her typical humble approach to life, she also 'complained' about all the fuss that was being made for her!
Sr. Esperanza’s 102 years of life are a shining example to us all a life lived with conviction, that when God is the centre of it all great things will happen, regardless of where we currently find ourselves in a good or bad situation. After all, when we look at her and hear her story, how could we not be convinced?