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Sisters of the Past

Sister Thecla - Mary Christine O'Connor

Profiled in April 2005

23 December 1889 - 21 November 1990

Sr_Thecla_98.jpgMary Christine O'Connor was the fourth child of Mary (nee McSweeney) and John O'Connor of Adair, South Canterbury. She was born in Timaru on 23 December 1889, to Irish immigrant parents, who had come to New Zealand to escape the privations of the potato famine of the mid-nineteenth century.

Her childhood was spent in Springbrook where the family had a small farm. Her memories of her childhood were that of a full and happy life; she freely admitted that she was a great talker. She said she was taught from her earliest years to be a good citizen as well as a good Catholic and never to be afraid to speak up.

After leaving school, Thecla spent some years in Palmerston North, nurse-
aiding. It was there that she met one of the founding Sisters of the
Sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth and subsequently joined that religious
order at Wanganui in 1920. She was professed as a Sister on 22 January 1922.

After her novitiate years she was appointed to branch convents in Taranaki, Horowhenua, and Hawkes Bay. She also lived in communities in P1immerton and Wanganui. For over sixty years, Thecla cared for the physical needs of those with whom she lived, as cook, housekeeper and minder of classes in the school playground.

Gracious and fun-loving, she was a woman of prayer and strength of spirit, as well as being a great story-teller, fond of card playing and the companionship of others. In latter years her sight failed but not her wit or wisdom.

Thecla’s failing sight necessitated a move to Nazareth Convent in Wanganui, and she was one of the original residents when it opened as a Rest Home in April 1987. She was a gentle and happy resident, very appreciative of the help she received.

She died 21 November, 1990, just four weeks before her 101st birthday. She had celebrated her centenary in first-class style in 1989. Her funeral was from St Mary’s Church, Wanganui, and she is buried in Aramoho Cemetery.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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