Sylvia is a loving example of service before self

Parishioner, Mrs Sylvia Arnett celebrated her 108th birthday with a morning tea and a special blessing from Fr Peter at Garden Village on Monday April 11.

Sylvia, born in 1911 in Bannaby near Goulburn, is Port Macquarie’s oldest resident as well as being the eleventh oldest person in Australia (the sixth oldest woman and the fifth oldest Australian-born person). She has 4 children, 13 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

Sylvia’s caring nature and wonderful sense of community spirit, shows in the strong relationships she has with all who know her. Grandson, Michael Arnett, says God is an integral part of her life.

“Faith led her to a life of service, helping other people no matter where she is.”

Sylvia moved to Port Macquarie more than 45 years ago with her husband Norm (who passed away in 1986), where they dedicated themselves to the service of others, working tirelessly for our local St Vincent de Paul as well as other charities in the town.

Sylvia, a non-smoker, is often asked the secret to long life and in response says, “every day is a good day”.

Below is a poem, Sylvia’s friend, Bessie Jennings, wrote for her 108th birthday.


When Sylvia was a little girl, she learned her lessons well:

to add, subtract and multiply; to read and write and spell.

She learned to wash and dress herself, to brush and comb her hair.

She learned to speak politely and was never heard to swear.

She learned to unselfish, and with other girls and boys

stay friendly and play happily – take turns, and share their toys.

But even more important, as she grew to womanhood,

Our Sylvia learned that God is love, and God is always good.

She learned to pray and share God’s love with people that she met.

The first time I met Sylvia, I never shall forget.

As I arrived to live in my new home in Heather Street,

This little lady crossed the road – and there we chanced to meet.

“Hello”, she said, “I’m Sylvia. I’m glad you’re moving here –

for just across the road from you in Lourdes Hostel, my dear,

I’ve met a lonely man who has no friends to visit him.

I wonder if you’d be so kind?” (I think his name was Jim.)

And that’s how I met Sylvia – an angel, would you say?

Well, that was many years ago.  She’s still like that today.

She’ll always make you welcome – you’ll feel really glad you came.

She says thing like “You’ve made my day!” She’s always been the same.

So now her birthday’s here again, I think it’s time to say

“God bless you! Happy birthday, and three cheers – hip, hip hooray!”