A Humble life of Mission and Prayer
Lurline Bell was a generous donor to Catholic Mission for 82 years of her beautiful life, starting with small but significant acts of mission when she was just eight years old.
Vale Lurline Bell (Born 2 January 1929; entered into eternal life 5 May 2019)
Everyone is called to a life of mission.
During his homily, on World Mission Sunday, Pope Francis said our lives are a “precious mission”, and this call is “not a burden to be borne, but a gift to offer.”
Lurline Bell offered this gift throughout all 90 years of a very special life.
Originally from Rockley, just over 30 kilometres from Bathurst, Lurline’s small but significant acts of mission began when she was just eight years old. She would fill her money box with savings from helping her father at the market garden, donating it to Catholic Mission’s work with children, a partnership Lurline would maintain in different forms for the next 82 years of her life.
Sister Helen Sullivan RSJ, a Josephite sister and Bathurst local, knew Lurline in later life, but says it was in death that she learnt just how extraordinary her neighbour’s seemingly ordinary life was. ‘It was only after Lurline’s death that I started to put things together and was to discover that her life was founded on her Faith: a life of Prayer and Mission’.
While Lurline carried her passions for family, the farm, cooking and gardening into her later years, Sister Helen says her friend’s early life was very busy, interesting and involved plenty of hard work. ‘At the age of 14, Lurline would rise at 4am on Sunday morning to walk the eight miles to attend Mass at the little Rockley Church. Those were the days of fasting from midnight and the weather would have been freezing!’
Lurline’s dedication to Mass throughout her life was driven by her love of Our Lady and the Rosary. ‘I think she said all 4 Mysteries each day,’ Sister Helen recalls. It was this devotion that made the decision to move from her home into a Catholic Retirement village slightly easier.
It was a leap of faith, but the religious services offered by her new home, were a comfort to Lurline. ‘She would have Mass twice a week there and a gathering for Rosary once a week, as well as the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to visit at any time,’ says Sister Helen. ‘Lurline was prepared to forgo all because of her Spiritual Life.’
In 90 years living west of the Great Dividing Range, Lurline faced many challenged that come with living in country Australia. ‘Lurline knew the good times and the not-so-good in this drought-affected land,’ says Mike Deasy, Diocesan Director for Catholic Mission in Bathurst. ‘As a rural woman she experienced, witnessed and understood the phenomenon long before it became popular to do so.’
However, in a life that experienced much change, one constant for Lurline was her generosity to thousands of children she never met, giving to Catholic Mission’s work with children right up until she was called to eternal rest. ‘She was a staunch supporter of the works of the missionary Church through Catholic Mission and its Children’s Mission Partners program,’ says Mr Deasy.
Mr Deasy said Lurline’s passing in May 2019 was a great loss not only to the Bathurst community but to the world. ‘I was privileged to know Lurline as a resident of the Chifley Retirement Village, and as a good friend to Sister Helen. She is deserving of her place in the Heavenly Kingdom. Requiescat in pace.’
Sister Helen says Lurline’s legacy will be one of sacrifice for those less fortunate. ‘Hidden away was a humble Missionary, who saved from her very low income throughout her life and placed it all into the “Hand of God” by her deeply Prayerful life’.