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Sisters of the Past

Sister Xavier - Mary Malone

Profiled in September 2005

26 February 1871 – 4 December 1946

 After the death of Mother Xavier in 1946, a past pupil wrote: “The cause of Catholic education in New Zealand is the poorer for the death on December 4 of Rev Mother Xavier, whose life and influence were so closely knit with the Sacred Heart Convent, Wanganui, that to hundreds, nay, thousands of old girls her name is synonymous with that of the Convent itself.”

Mary Malone was born in Hawera, Taranaki, on 26 February 1871 . She entered the Sisters of St Joseph on 24 May 1889 , and was professed on 30 January 1891 .

By 1899, she was chosen as a Sister Assistant to the Reverend Mother Teresa, and in 1908 was elected as Assistant to Mother Columba. In 1914 she was elected by the Sisters as their Reverend Mother, and was re-elected in 1917. She had further terms as Reverend Mother, being elected for 6year terms in 1932, 1938, and 1944.

Mother Xavier was a woman of unbounded faith, a brilliant scholar, and a great disciplinarian. Into all her teaching, whether it was a lesson on the primary elements of English grammar, or the more advanced intricacies of Juvenal or Horace, she infused a fervid zeal and undaunted enthusiasm, and from her pupils she expected the same.

Her charges were conscious of the reverent awe with which her very poise and bearing inspired them; yet she was never aloof. She would rejoice in her pupils' triumphs and urge them on to further efforts, and to her they could look for comfort in the hour of defeat. Many looked back with pleasure and gratitude to the early years spent within the Sacred Heart Convent walls and to the full and wise guidance and wholehearted efforts of a Reverend Mother conscious of the great work entrusted to her.

Mother Xavier played a large part in the moulding of the lives of many pupils at Sacred Heart College , but her influence went further afield to the needs of all children for Catholic education. It was Sr. Xavier and her Council who approached the Parish priest of Wanganui, Father Outtrim, with regard to opening a school at Wanganui East, since she was concerned at the lack of Catholic education in the area. The school opened in 1942.

It was also Sister Xavier who founded the Sacred Heart Old Girls Association in 1935.

Mother Xavier was the first Superior General in 1928 to explore possible links with the Australian Josephite Diocesan groups, and she made the first application to Rome for Papal Approbation in 1938.

Her influence will never die –

"Her echoes roll from soul to soul and grow forever and forever”.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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