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Sisters of the Past

Sister Bernadette - Mary Ann Murphy

Profiled in December 2004

23 October 1894 - 13 May 1991

 On 9 June 1912, Mary Ann Murphy, the eldest of a family of seven, set out from Colyton, near Feilding, with her parents John and Bridget (nee Byrne), to begin life as a Sister of St Joseph. She was in her mid-teens and was setting out on a life journey she had wanted for many years; one that would take her to many towns and throughout which she would touch the lives of many young people. She was leaving behind five sisters and one brother. Her sister Elizabeth would later follow her to the Sisters of St Joseph and become known as Sr Madeleine.

The Convent at that time was a two-storeyed building standing beside the Catholic Church in Victoria Ave. Mary was professed on 23 January 1914, taking the name of Bernadette. For the next sixty years, as Sister Bernadette, she worked throughout Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Manawatu as a successful primary school teacher. She loved teaching and was concerned that children be taught self-discipline and regular habits of study. One of her great loves was poetry, which she taught with characteristic flare.

Blessed with good health during those sixty years, she worked hard in school and in the parishes in which she lived. On Sunday mornings she would travel to country outposts with the priest and provide religious instruction to the Catholic children.

In the early years of her retirement, Bernadette continued to travel with Religious Education Advisers in Wairarapa, Manawatu and Southern Hawkes Bay, visiting country families whose children received religious instruction through a correspondence programme. As her health began to fail she moved to Wanganui to Nazareth Rest Home, where she entered fully into the life of the community there.

Bernadette died at Nazareth on 13 May 1991, and was buried from St Mary's Church, Guyton St on 15 May. She was buried in Aramoho Lawn Cemetery, Wanganui.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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