Religious life a God-given gift

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Religious life a God-given gift
Sr Monica Shelverton PBVM has marked 60 years of religious profession.

Now celebrating her 60th anniversary of religious profession, Sister Monica Shelverton PBVM says that her vocation has been a “God-given” gift. 

Sr Monica took her first vows with the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on March 18, 1960 at St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart.

She had been raised in a large Catholic family of ten children in nearby West Hobart. 

“We had such a simple faith, it wasn't showy. We used to say the rosary at home when we were all young - we'd all mill around the fireplace,” Sr Monica said. 

She still remembers the first moment her vocation become clear to her – it was while undertaking a silent retreat at the cathedral at age 14.

“I remember sitting under the tree that's still outside. We made a retreat, and I remember sitting there and I just felt the urge, the grace, the call that Christ gave me,” Sr Monica said. 

“That hit me like a bomb. I had in my mind to do missionary work and I approached the priest and he smiled and said: ‘No they need you here.’”

During the first years of her religious life, Sr Monica taught at various primary schools run by the Presentation Sisters.   

“Persevering in knowing that Christ is the centre of all that we did,” is how Sr Monica describes her deep love for her religious community.

A personal highlight of Sr Monica’s religious life was her time spent at the Presentation Mission in Papua New Guinea from 1982 until 1988, an experience she says taught her a lot about life, people, Church and community. 

After her time spent in Papua New Guinea, Sr Monica took up various pastoral positions across Tasmania including parishes on King Island, Hobart’s eastern shore and most recently at St Mary’s Cathedral, a place she calls her ‘spiritual home’.

A recent touching moment for Sr Monica came at St Paul’s Outside the Walls basilica in Rome in June 2018 when she presented the stole to her second-cousin Fr Ben Brooks at his diaconate ordination.

Sr Monica says she feels that even 60 years after taking her first vows, knowing that “the grace of God is alive and active” still motivates her. 

“All the people that I've ever met has been a gift,”  Sr Monica said. 

“I've had a few ups and downs – but it's formative.  Formative in a way that the Lord wants it to happen, and that we can only say, ‘Yes,’ to that.”