Sisters of the Past

Sister Agnes Lily Dalziell

20 May 1881 25 May 1966Agnes_Dalziell

Profiled March 2012

Bulls, a little town in central New Zealand, was the birthplace of Lily  Dalziell on 20 May 1881.  Her parents were Alex, a farmer from Scotland, and Divinia was thought to be her mother’s name.  The family were then farming a few miles further north at Hunterville.  She had many siblings.  Her sisters were Margaret, Betsy, Catherine, Florence, Annie, Vivette, Ada and Davina.  And her brothers were Leonard, Robert, Alexander and Kenneth.

Lily became a boarder at the original Sacred Heart Convent in Victoria Avenue beside St Mary’s Church. There was some dismay in her family when she later chose to became a Catholic, and even more when she entered the Sisters of St Joseph on 25 March 1905.

Lily was professed as Sister Agnes on 23 January 1907.  She began teaching, and for 25 years she was associated with Sister Rita at Holy Infancy School in Aramoho, Whanganui.  She taught at St Mary’s School in Whanganui, and was needlework teacher at Sacred Heart College for many years.  She helped in the Infirmary at Sacred Heart and was kindness itself as a nurse.  Agnes had very strong faith and was very particular about her daily devotions.

Generations of former pupils recalled her wise counsel and consideration for others.  A woman of intellectual attainments, she possessed an artistic temperament and had the happy knack of being able to pass on her knowledge to her pupils.  Her needlework skills were a byword, and her pupils recorded many successes in this field.  Many were the beautiful pieces made and embroidered for Chapel and local Churches by Agnes.  She was also an excellent cook and always ready to bake for shop days and special occasions.

Her constant visitation of the sick and poor of the community over the years was also recalled by many.  The older generation particularly remembered her work for those stricken in the depression years.

Sister Agnes was a superb fund-raiser.  While at Holy Infancy she and Sister Rita made toffee apples and coconut ice and sold little bags to raise funds for the school.  Agnes would be there to prepare sets and props for the musicals produced at the school.  At Sacred Heart she helped fund raise for the Pieta, the Stations of the Cross, and the Nativity figures all of which were features in the Chapel.

Sister Agnes had failing health over the latter part of her life.  She died in Belverdale Hospital in Whanganui on 25 May 1966.  Mass of Requiem was celebrated at Sacred Heart Chapel and she was buried at Aramoho Cemetery.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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