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Sisters of the Past


Profiled in March 2010


9 February 1905 - 17 May 1982

sistermiriam.jpgKathleen was born to Annie McConnell nee Gregg, and James Patrick Beech at Konini, Pahiatua, on 9 February 1905.  Kathleen had an older brother, James, and two younger sisters Maureen Anne, known as Anne, and Molly.  Sadly her mother died at the time of Molly’s birth.  Her father later married again, to Margaret Mathews.  There were then five children – twins Peter, and Paul who died in infancy, Honora, Kevin, and Denis.

Kathleen attended the local Konini School, and on finishing there, she stayed at home to help her step-mother to run the house and look after the children.  Her sister Honora was a boarder at Sacred Heart Convent in Whanganui.

Kathleen entered the community of the Sisters of St Joseph in Whanganui on 6 January 1925 and was professed there on 22 January 1928 taking the religious name of Miriam.

Sister Miriam became a house Sister and this ministry took her to almost every Convent of the Josephites in the lower North Island during her religious life.  Her role, as with many other house Sisters, was invaluable to the Sisters who were teaching.  As well as preparing meals and caring for the Convent, there was the visiting of the sick and elderly in the parish.

Miriam had many skills and interests.  She was an excellent cook, an extremely competent seamstress, and she loved painting and decorating items.  She enjoyed gardening and was a handy-woman with tools, often working with leather and vinyl.  One memory of her in a small branch convent was turning on as many lights as possible so she could see to finish her garden plot in the evening.

There was always a time for a joke and a good laugh with Miriam – particularly when she was enjoying her favourite game of cards.

Miriam returned to Sacred Heart Convent in 1976, and ill health meant a stay in Palmerston North Public Hospital, where her attitude to her suffering an imminent death made a great impression on those who nursed her.  She died there on 17 May 1982.
Requiem Mass was celebrated in St Mary’s Parish, and she was buried at Aramoho Cemetery.

There were many links with the Sisters of St Joseph in Miriam’s life.  Her step mother was connected to two of the earliest Sisters, both of whom entered in 1883.  Ellen Mathews who became Sr Rose, was chosen as Sister Assistant to both founding Sisters, Joseph Kinsella and Clare Rubie, and her sister Annie Mathews who became Sr Bridget.

Other family members were boarders at Sacred Heart at various times and her nephew Martin was Chairman of the Villa Maria Hostel Trust in later years.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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