‘Gum trees keep me grounded. They tell me that I have to let go of the past to make way for the future. They remind me that fire is the catalyst that splits the gum nut, that I am a disciple of the man who said he came to cast fire on the earth.’
Judith Scully is one of the many people who left religious life in the years following the Second Vatican Council. Those times, she believes, were critical ones in the development of the Catholic Church. Later generations will look back and analyse their importance and the effect these moves had on the way women and men minister in the Australian church.
Judith, a fourth generation Australian, was a toddler when World War II began. Her memorabilia box overflows with bits and pieces from her years as a religious sister teaching on Aboriginal settlements, marriage, parenting five children, three of them fostered and two adopted, running a general store, the untimely death of her husband from Motor Neurone Disease, and nearly two decades as a pastoral associate in Catholic parishes. Judith built on the formation and education she had received in religious life, giving it a breadth and focus that was different. That experience fuelled her passion to affirm the way people, especially women, live out their spirituality in the ordinariness of everyday.
In retirement Judith has re-discovered her love of words and these days reaches out to women at her website Words from the Edge.
‘I am neither an academic nor a theologian, says Judith Scully, ‘but the words I find to verbalise the deep truths of the Christian faith are theologically sound and scripturally based, without the church-speak. This book will be my story because the only experience I can really talk about with any validity is my own – as a woman, a mother, and a some-time religious sister. ‘I write because I believe organised religion doesn’t always have the language, or even the freedom of expression, that touches into our God-hunger. I don’t like “church-speak” and I love using imagery that is identifiably Australian.’ Judith is a frequent contributer to the Good Samaritan Sisters’ online magazine The Good Oil. She and her youngest brother share a home among the gum trees in Warrandyte, Victoria.