Sr Monique Singh

Former St Clare’s High School, Taree student Monique Singh had her sights set on becoming a professional dancer from a young age. 

After school, she pursued this passion, which landed her in Brisbane. However, while living in the riverside city she met the Canossian Sisters. This encounter eventually led her to surrender to God’s calling and dance to a different tune.

What Catholic school(s) did you attend?
I commenced school in the Archdiocese of Sydney at St John Vianney Primary School, Greenacre. In Year 3, my family moved to the Manning, and I transitioned to St Joseph’s Primary School, Taree, before graduating to St Clare’s High School, also in Taree.

Why did your parents choose a Catholic education for you?
Quality Catholic education was important for my family in selecting a school, for which I am grateful.

What is your fondest memory from your schooling years?
I am not sure that I can name only one. I have many fond memories of my school years. While I enjoyed and worked hard at academic studies, many extra-curricular activities enriched my school life. Often these were in the creative and performing arts, and the liturgical life of the school. Some kind words of teachers and sharing of friendships, even in simple things, also remain with me. God gifted me with gentle, subtle graces through both staff and fellow students, and I believe I carry these positive experiences with me. Schooling is such a formative ground where gems may be gathered and stored for future days.

How did your dancing career path evolve into one of vocation with the Canossian Sisters?
I started discerning my path after some strong prayer experiences on a retreat. While I was in the liminal space of not knowing what came next, I completed an honours degree in sacred dance. The call to leave the familiar – the dance world – was strong, and I realised it was God asking me to surrender all to Him. When I could let go of the life story I had written for myself, the new opened up, and I was in a disposition to respond to the call to religious life. There was something attractive about being with the Canossians and their joyful spirit, so it was natural to discern with them, and I found my sense of belonging there.

For those who may not be familiar with Canossian Sisters, how would you describe a day in the life as a Sister?
Canossian Sisters live in community for the mission. There are five main branches of ministry in which Canossians are involved, however, some offer a broad scope, enabling us to meet emerging needs and respond to the signs of the times. The five ministries are education, evangelisation, pastoral care of the sick, formation of the laity, and spiritual direction.

Most days begin in personal prayer and meditation, followed by the Morning Prayer of the Church (Lauds), Mass, then preparing for ministry. My ministry is in education – I am a secondary school teacher – and thus am out most of the day. In the evening, we pray together again and spend some time in community, sharing our experiences of the day.

Central to living your life as a Canossian Daughter of Charity are three components: Prayer, Community, and Mission. How do the Sisters strive to serve the community?
“Make Jesus known and loved” said St Magdalene of Canossa, our foundress. There are many Canossian ministries, and it is through each of them we strive to serve with the love of Christ Crucified – something we can only do with the grace of God. Closeness in prayer and walking with people, we hope to serve those we encounter in humility and love.
Canossian Daughters of Charity have celebrated more than 70 years of mission, charity, and love in Australia. In your time with the Sisters, can you reflect on a moment of giving that you hold close to your heart?

Seventy years is quite the milestone. While I have only been privy to the past decade of their works first-hand, I know of many beautiful stories preceding my time with the Order. There are some big, courageous acts that draw me to wonder, and I treasure them. I also believe the less noticeable acts of selfless giving that happen around me in community are gifts, and I hold them close to my heart. Sometimes Sisters who quietly do the little things with great love are truly saintly in their gentle way.

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Brittany Gonzalez

Brittany Gonzalez is a Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator for Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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