Sister Mary Jeanne Shoecraft, a beloved religious sister, has marked her 105th birthday surrounded by family, friends and the nursing and support staff at Mercy Community’s Bethesda Aged Care residence.
Her milestone is testament to a life dedicated to serving others and a shining example of perseverance in the face of difficulties.
Born in Toowoomba, Queensland, in 1918, Jeanne was the middle child of 11 children. Her twin sister, Julie, also entered the Brisbane Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy.
The sisters taught at many primary schools throughout the Archdiocese of Brisbane and Diocese of Toowoomba. Sr Jeanne’s sister, Julie (Sr Mary Eudes) died quite suddenly in 2013, but Sr Jeanne was blessed to have another sister present to celebrate her milestone, Berenice Winch, 94, and second cousins, Marie Nolan and Patricia Jefferies.
Sr Jeanne is one of three centenarians residing at Bethesda, along with Sister Mary Britton, 101, and 105-year-old Ita Lavercombe, who will turn 106 in January.
Sr Jeanne’s niece Glenda Cuskelly said throughout her long life, her aunt had served tirelessly, offering spiritual guidance and compassion to families, children in need, and countless individuals from all walks of life in education and pastoral care.
“I think it’s her faith that keeps her going,” she said.
Until quite recently, Sr Jeanne had been able to recount stories of her early life and recall the sacrifices her parents made so that their children would have a good education.
The many children whom she had taught, their parents and teachers continue to be held in her prayers.
The birthday celebration held in her honour was a joyous occasion with morning tea and cake attended by some of the 25 Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of St Joseph and Presentation Sisters who are currently cared for at Mercy Community Nudgee.
Mercy Community CEO Fritha Radyk joined in the celebrations, presenting a bouquet of flowers to Sr Jeanne.
She said there were many other long-lived sisters across the Mercy Community Aged Care Services residences who had lived lives of great service and purpose.
The event served as a reminder of the lasting impact one individual can have on the world through a life dedicated to faith, love and service, and compassion.
Emma Babao, Facility Manager, said the sisters of Sr Jeanne’s generation had lived frugally with very healthy lifestyles with much walking when they were younger.
“It’s a privilege to be able to care for these sisters and they have lots of support from the Sisters of Mercy local cluster,” she said.