Sisters of the Past

Sister Patricia - Jane McElroy

Profiled in March 2009

29 December 1885  9 November 1984

Patricia-McElroy.jpgMary Jane McElroy was born in the Halcombe district on 29 December 1885, into a well-known Feilding family.  Her father Owen McElroy, was born in Fintona, County Tyrone in Northern Ireland.  Her mother Mary nee Managh, was born in Six Mile Cross, County Tyrone.  Owen, a Catholic lad, worked on the Managh (Church of England) farm, and the friendship was not looked upon with favour.  Both emigrated to NZ on the ‘Zealandia’ in 1879.  They were married in Feilding in 1881 in a Catholic, then an Anglican ceremony.
Over the next 20 years they moved around the Marton, Waituna, and Stanway areas contract farming and saw milling, until they were able to purchase 500 acres between Feilding and Halcombe.

Mary and Owen had 11 children - Arthur, Jane, Laura (Fergusson), George, Herbert, David, Kathleen (Shortall), Eileen (Cullinane) and Margaret.  The children were all brought up Catholic, but Mary remained staunch in her Anglican faith. 
Jane is thought to have attended the local Halcombe School, and then as one of the eldest, she had responsibility for the younger children.  She delayed entering the Sisters of St Joseph until Laura was old enough to take over.

Her entry date to the Sisters was 22 July 1908, and she was professed as Sister Patricia on 24 January 1910.  During her many years as a Sister of St Joseph she taught in many of the schools staffed by the Sisters, often in the position as head teacher, in Whanganui, Hastings, Levin, Taihape, Ohakune and Waipukurau.
For many years she held other positions of responsibility which included Superior of the community, Mistress of Novices, and as a member of the Leadership team.  

Patricia was a woman of deep faith, quiet wisdom, and a variety of talents.  She was a great lover of nature, walking the wide open spaces, and a very keen gardener.  She was adept at pocketing cuttings from plants any time and anywhere! 
Patricia was a talented artist and had been offered the opportunity to study in Germany before she entered the Sisters.  Despite choosing rather to enter religious life, she loved music and art; the latter was an abiding passion. 
Sister Patricia spent her final years at Nazareth Convent in Whanganui where she died on 9 November in her 99th year and her 76th year of religious profession.  Her funeral Mass was held at St Mary’s Parish  Church, and she is buried at Aramoho Cemetery.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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