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Sisters of the Past

Sister Anne - Mary Keegan

Profiled in October 2003

2 December 1915 - 14 March 1995

 Sister Anne Keegan’s father, Peter, who was three years old at the time, sailed from Wexford, Ireland, with his parents and six brothers and sisters on the "Edwin Fox" in 1874. The family settled in Wanganui, but in later years he became an engine driver and went to Hawera. He boarded at Roche's home in Union Street, where he met Mary Johanna Roche, (May for short) and they married.

There were six children in the family - three boys and three girls. Mary Rosalie was the youngest. She attended St Joseph's Convent School in Hawera, which was a fairly large school taught by the Sisters of Saint Joseph. The Keegans lived on Mason Road, so the children had to walk several miles to Victoria Street, where the Church, Convent, Presbytery and Senior school were all situated.

Mary enjoyed school life and was in the basketball team and became a reasonably good runner. She enjoyed most subjects - English, Reading, Spelling, Drawing, Singing, and Poetry. In the Keegan home, music was very important, and Mary began playing the piano early, encouraged by her parents, and joining the other family members in their music-making.

They were very happy years for her growing up on the farm.

After Proficiency, Mary went to Wanganui as a boarder to Sacred Heart College. In those four or five years her music improved, and she had plenty of opportunities to further Singing, Drama, Physical Education, and blend in with girls of all ages.

From her earliest years Mary realized that for her parents, God came first in their lives. Her school life seemed to mirror her home life, and seeing how the Sisters also saw God as first in their lives was the seed of her religious vocation. She joined the Sisters on March 19th.1936, with four others – who were to be known as Sisters Theodore, Dorothea, Brigid, and Mary herself took the religious name of Anne. During her Novitiate days, she was awarded her Diploma in Singing (ATCL), and her Licentiate in Piano (LTCL). She was professed on 23 January 1938.

In 1938, her first teaching assignment was to Levin for music and to teach the infants. She coped reasonably well but the following year she was asked to teach the seniors and enjoyed it much more. From then on Anne taught in many of the convent schools of the Sisters in what was then the Wellington Archdiocese. At the same time she was teaching music both in and out of school hours and was usually very involved with choir work. For 11 years in the 1950’s she was stationed at Sacred Heart College, Wanganui. She held the positions of principal at Waverley and at Ohakune during the 1970’s. She retired from teaching in 1979.

From then on Anne became involved in all manner of parish and community work. She taught religion in State schools, was a hospital chaplain, took communion to the elderly and the sick, did much visiting, and of course used her musical talent to the full as a parish organist.

Her Sisters remember her as a great companion, full of fun and good humour, very proud of her family members, and totally committed to the Sisters of St Joseph with whom she celebrated over 50 years of life.

Failing health meant a move from her much loved Hawera, back to Wanganui to Nazareth Rest Home for some time. Her health was not good, and she moved to Springvale Manor Home where she died on 14 March 1995. Her funeral was held in St Mary’s Parish Church, Wanganui.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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