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Sisters of the Past

Sister Imelda - Annie Delahunty

Profiled in June 2006

27 February 1879 7 August 1968

 Annie Delahunty was born in Wellington, daughter of the late William John and Mary Delahunty, nee Hehir, of County Clare Ireland. She was a boarder pupil at the Sacred Heart College, Victoria Avenue, from 1895-97. A younger sister, Kathleen also entered the Sisters of St Joseph in 1918. She became Sister Clare, and died in 1943.

Annie entered the Sisters of St Joseph in 1899, and when she died, was one of a few remaining sisters associated with the three foundation members. Those four founding members, Sisters Hyacinth, Aloysius, Joseph and Clare, came to Whanganui from Australia at the request of the late Dean Kirk in 1880. In a sense, Annie, who was now Sister Imelda, grew up with the new congregation and the congregation grew up with her.

In turn Sister Imelda was teacher, bursar, first assistant to the Reverend Mother General and councillor for a long period. She was revered and loved by Sisters and children alike. She contributed much to the Sacred Heart College and to the hundreds of pupils with whom she came in contact during her 70 years of service in Whanganui.

A gifted musician, she was long remembered in musical circles in the city.Her pupils met with outstanding success and were awarded scholarships in New Zealand and Overseas. Two distinguished Whanganui instrumentalists, Jacqueline Stone and Gillian Weir, were pupils of Sister Imelda.

People recall her indefatigable energy in producing plays, operas and other entertainments, in which so many received the benefit of her skilled tuition in the arts of choral speaking and singing.  Above all, she will be remembered for her great faith, her loving understanding of humanity and her desire to give herself for the welfare of others.

Sister Imelda died at Sacred Heart Convent on 7 August 1968.  Requiem Mass was celebrated at the Convent Chapel on August 9, and the chapel was crowded with those who came to pay their last respects.

The Sisters and pupils of the College formed a combined choir and the Mass was celebrated by Rev. Bernard Hehir, a relative of Sister Imelda.  A panegyric was delivered by the parish priest of St Mary’s Whanganui, Rev.Father Leo Spring.

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