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99-year-old former POW celebrates 80 years in the habit

berenice-2xSr Berenice Twohill celebrated 80 years as a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, one of nine anniversaries of profession for the order last week.

The Sisters renewed their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Kensington, before Bishop Terry Brady, 14 members of the clergy, family, friends and fellow Sisters.

Together the Sisters have lived out their vows for a combined 530 years.

Sr Berenice, who turns 100 later this year, was working in Papua New Guinea in 1941 when World War II reached the Pacific.

Held as a prisoner of war alongside Australian, German and Dutch religious and nurses, she witnessed war-time atrocities carried out by Japanese troops.

“We saw the torture ourselves, we saw what they did, it was terrible,” Sr Berenice said in a 2003 interview for the Australians at War Film Archive.

“There was not a thing you could do, just not a thing, you just had to watch it.”

As Sr Berenice celebrated 80 years of profession, Sr Jane Frances Dempsy, a nurse in Papua New Guinea, marked 70 years.

In retirement she worked tirelessly to provide for the needs of the sisters who were still on the mission fields

The two now reside at St Joseph’s Aged Care Facility.

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