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Sisters of the Past

Sister Cletus Mary McKeown

23 Sept 1892 25 August 1961Cletus_McKeown

Profiled July 2012

Otane, Hawkes Bay, was the birthplace of Mary McKeown on 23 September 1892.  Her parents were Patrick, and Mary, nee Kelleher.

Mary was thought to have been a boarder at Sacred Heart Convent, and she entered the community of the Sisters of St Joseph in Whanganui on 19 April 1911.  She was professed on 23 January 1913 as Sister Cletus.

Sister Cletus taught in Josephite Primary Schools in Whanganui and the lower North Island.  She was a very good teacher, working with senior classes, and she often recalled her teaching years with happy memories.

In January 1948 she was appointed Mistress of Novices, a ministry she was re-appointed to, and held until 1961.  It was for this she was well remembered, as numbers entering religious life grew.  In 1949, she was able to move with her charges to the newly purchased property of Mt St Joseph on Hillside Terrace, giving those in formation the benefit of a place of their own outside Sacred Heart Convent.
In her role as Novice mistress, Cletus was firm and could be strict, but she had a great sense of humour and enjoyed being with her novices and postulants.  Parents and families were made very welcome at visiting times, and trusted her care of their daughters.

Her love of literature was shown in the many books she shared with her charges, as was her love of nature and gardening.  Her former novices recall her knowledge of, and love of the birds frequenting the grounds, the many azalea bushes, and her efforts to introduce them to practical gardening. 

Sister Cletus died on 25 August 1961 at Sacred Heart Convent after a brief illness.  Requiem Mass was celebrated in the Convent Chapel and she was buried at Aramoho Cemetery.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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