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Sisters of the Past

Sister Majella - Ruby Mary Thompson

Profiled in August 2004

February 1914 - 27 December 1992

 Ruby Thompson was born in Christchurch – little was known of her childhood.

She entered the Sisters of St Joseph on 9 January 1932 and found in Sister Augustine a good friend and mentor. She was professed as Sister on 2 August 1934, taking the name Majella, and made her final vows on 26 July 1937.

Majella began her primary teaching ministry at Villa Maria School, Wanganui in 1934, and from there on had postings to most of the Josephite schools in the lower North Island. From 1957-67 she was both Head teacher of the school and leader of the community at Plimmerton, again both responsibilities were hers in Otaki 1967-72, and St Mary’s, Wanganui from 1975-76.

Majella was a most resourceful and thorough teacher of junior classes. She had the ability to inspire her students to give of their best. She set high standards and very few failed to make progress. It seems that somewhere she had gained experience with the Montessori way of learning and she used much equipment of a self-correcting or extension of knowledge type to keep children interested. As funds were rarely available, Majella made resources out of cardboard using magazine pictures and stocking boxes. She was always busy and her pupils seemed so interested they never wasted time. Her classroom had an air of industry about it.

Majella was particularly keen on clear speech and her children read with expression – a real delight for interested parents or teachers. Often teachers from other schools came to see her at work in class. Inspectors too were fascinated by the opportunity to visit her room. She had a unique gift, and in her time was a great teacher. When she moved on to another school, hers was a ‘hard act to follow’ for her successor!

Majella was small in build, always took a pride in herself, and people were drawn to her. She had a great sense of humour and laughed often and heartily. She was remembered as generous, loyal and a great community member.

She was as busy in retirement as she had been teaching, visiting, caring for the church and caring for her community of Sisters. Her latter years were spent at Levin where she died. Her funeral Mass was held in St Joseph’s Church, Levin, and she was buried in Aramoho Cemetery, Wanganui.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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