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Sisters of the Past

Sister Catherine Hannah Lafferty

11 January 1865 25 June 1939

Profiled March 2013

Raphoe, in County Donegal Ireland, was the birthplace of Hannah, to Grace nee McCafferty and John.  Grace had two younger sisters, Sarah and Grace, and a brother John.  Her father John was a farmer, but in 1876 the family left Ireland and emigrated to New Zealand.

On 29 June 1882, Hannah entered the small community of Sisters of St Joseph in Whanganui.  She was the third new entrant to the community which had arrived from Australia in 1880.

Hannah was professed as Sister Catherine on 22 August 1884, and began her teaching ministry.  She is known to have been a foundation member of the Otaki community in 1894, the Manaia community in 1902, and of Patea in 1904.  There are no other records of her placements, but she is known to have been a superior and head teacher.

Sister Catherine spent some time in retirement in Ohakune.  Sister Leonard Mischewski remembered: “Sister Catherine, an angelic musician, used to come to the school to take a singing class, and as she played the piano we all sang many Irish songs as she could get us to; ‘Ireland, I love you’, ‘Will my soul pass through Old Ireland’, and hymns for church also.”  After some months she returned to Whanganui.

Her sisters Sarah and Grace also became Sisters of St Joseph. Sarah entered in 1884 and became Sister Michael, and Grace became Sister Francis after entering in 1891.  They were all known to have musical ability.

Sister Catherine died on 25 June 1939 and she was buried at the Heads Road Cemetery, Whanganui.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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