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Sisters of the Past

SISTER MAGDALEN - Eileen Margaret McSweeney

Profiled May 2011

25 May 1905  -  4 February 1973sr_magdalen.jpg

Sister Magdalen , Eileen McSweeney, was a member of a well-known Taihape family, and was a music teacher in that town before entering the Sisters of St Joseph.  She was classed as a ‘late’ vocation, having previously devoted many years of companionship and service to her aged mother before she was free to enter religious life.

The young Eileen had been born in Taihape to Michael and his wife Annie, nee McDavitt, on 25 May 1905.  Of her two sisters, one became Sister Clement of the Sisters of Mercy in Auckland, and the other was Mrs N Leach of Dannevirke.  Her brothers were Frank of Taihape and Owen of Masterton.

Entering the Sisters of St Joseph on 15 March 1938, Eileen was professed as Sister Magdalen on 20 January 1941.  Magdalen was stationed at various convents of the Sisters, but many of those years were at Sacred Heart Convent in Whanganui.  She was Local Superior at Waipukurau for a time. Sister Catherine Shelton, whose mother was a cousin of Magdalen’s, remembers her visiting the families of parishioners there.  In autumn she would summon the children to rake leaves in the convent grounds.  In 1961, she was also part of the foundational community at Mairangi Bay, Auckland.

Magdalen was a woman of deep faith, and her kindness and thoughtfulness for the needs of others was outstanding.  She had the happy knack of sensing the little things that would lighten the load for people, and many remembered her for actions carried out unobtrusively.  The sick, the aged, the lonely benefitted much from her care.

As a teacher of piano, theory and singing, Magdalen did much more than impart knowledge to her pupils.  She took a special motherly interest in each and every one of them and never missed an opportunity of giving good advice where it was needed.  Her pupils grew to love her and respect her not only as teacher but as good friend.

Sister Magdalen died at Sacred Heart Convent, Whanganui, on 4 February 1973. Mass of Requiem was celebrated for her in the Sacred Heart Chapel, and she was buried at Aramoho Cemetery.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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