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Sisters of the Past

Sister Cuthbert - Mary Cullinane

Profiled in May 2009

11 July 1905 15 January 1984

cuthbert_cullinane.jpgMary Cullinane was born in Woodville on 11July 1905, the daughter of James Cullinane and his wife Rose, nee O’Drane. The family farmed in the area.
Her brothers were James, Tim, Richard, and John who later became a Marist priest.  Her sister was Katy. 

Mary entered the Sisters of St Joseph in Whanganui on 19 March 1923.   She began her teaching ministry in 1925, after being professed as Sister Cuthbert.
From then on Cuthbert taught in most of the Sisters’ schools around the North Island, from Manaia and Hawera in Taranaki, to Hastings, Waipukurau and Waipawa in Hawkes Bay.  She was also stationed in Levin, Feilding, Taihape, Taupo, and had several appointments to Whanganui schools.

Cuthbert became a highly respected teacher, and was a head teacher in many schools.  Pupils remember her as ‘excellent though strict, and always well prepared’.  In the Secondary school she was remembered with affection by her pupils who also thought her firm and fair. 

She was a gracious lady with a warm personality, and was always very hospitable.  After retiring from teaching, she was generous with her care and attention to the sisters in ministry.   In community she was understanding and affirming, despite suffering constantly with back pain.

For 16 years Cuthbert was elected to the Sisters’ Leadership Council.  She was a ready listener, and popular with the community.  She was a distant cousin of Bishop Peter Cullinane of the Palmerston North Diocese.

In retirement Sister Cuthbert came to Nazareth Convent in Whanganui for a brief time before dying there on January 15 1984.  Her Mass of Requiem was celebrated at St Mary’s Parish Church, and she was buried at Aramoho Cemetery.

In 2004 when Whanganui’s Sacred Heart College and St Augustine’s Colleges amalgamated, the new school was named Cullinane.  This name was chosen because of its links with Sisters of St Joseph - Cuthbert Cullinane and another Cullinane Sister Vincent. The Marist connection was from Fr John Cullinane who worked as a Maori Missioner in the Whanganui River area.  This Diocese’s Bishop Peter is also a member of this widely known and respected family.

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