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Sisters of the Past

Sister Monica - Jean McLeod

Profiled in November 2008 

24 February 1907 18 April 1985

monica-mcleod.jpgJean McLeod was born to William McFarlane McLeod and Margaret Anne nee Walsh on 24 February 1907.

William was a farmer in Makerua, in the Horowhenua District. In the family, Jean was  preceded by Monica (Mona), William (Bill), and then Annie (Bonnie). The younger siblings were Lawrence (Witt), Colin John Norman (Jock), and it is believed at least one baby died at birth. Jean attended school at Makerua.. 

On 27 December 1923, Jean entered the Sisters of St Joseph in Whanganui and took the religious name of Monica.  She was professed on 20 January 1926, and began her teaching ministry.

She taught in Convent Schools, mainly in the lower North Island Aramoho in Whanganui, Hawera, Otaki, Patea, Waverley, Ohakune, Levin, Manaia,  Plimmerton and Hastings.  She was an excellent teacher who loved her pupils, and was in turn, loved by them.  A copious letter writer, she maintained a life long interest as well as regular and correspondence with many of her pupils.  A little black notebook with names and addresses was never far from her person.  Many were pleasantly surprised by a note on their birthdays many years after leaving school. 

Monica was creative and artistic, as well as thorough in the basic subjects.  She also coached the girls’ netball teams.  In later years she continued her visiting of parishioners and friends, and was notable for her compassion to those in need.  She loved playing cards.

In the 1950’s, Monica’s niece Beverly McLeod also enter the Sisters, taking the religious name of Lawrence before reverting to her own name years later. 
Beverly remembered: “The greatest influence Monica had in my life was that there were two major factors in retaining one’s personal dignity and balance a great love of God, built on a friendship basis and being able to walk one’s talk regardless of the unnecessary structures that were woven around us.  For me she lived and walked with God in such a way that her gift of presence radiated to all that she was truly a woman of God”.  Beverly also recalled her skill as a peacemaker, being ready to listen to both sides of an argument.

Her niece Mary remembers her as a very wise woman.  “It was always safe to tell her anything and she would get back with options and advice…she always had such an interest in our lives and where we all were at”. 

In her later years, Monica moved to Whanganui in and lived at what was then Nazareth Convent.  She was taken ill, and admitted to Whanganui Hospital, where she died on 18 April 1985.  Her funeral was held at St Mary’s Church in Whanganui, and her casket was carried by her six nephews as she had wanted.  Sister Monica is buried in Aramoho Cemetery.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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