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Sisters of the Past

Sister Chanel - Margaret Carmody

Profiled in August 2006  

9 May 1870 - 21 August 1950

 Sr Chanel Carmody is remembered by older people in the Whanganui area as a compassionate, loving and generous person who loved the poor and downcast, and worked practically for their well-being. 

She was born in 1870, and baptised Margaret.   She entered the Sisters of St Joseph on 31 May 1894, taking the name of Chanel, and made her Profession on 3 February 1896.

Chanel lived in the Whanganui area for most of her life, and through her extensive visiting she knew many people there.  She had a special gift of finding out those people who were in need of special spiritual care, and led many to the Catholic Faith. Chanel had experience and ability in dealing with people especially men who seemed to have difficulties in relation to religion. She seemed able to speak quite directly to such people and get unexpected results for example, attendance of their children at the Catholic school.

One Sister remembers Chanel’s compassion to her family:
“When I was about 6 years old, my older brother was accidentally shot and killed. My mother was distraught, as was my father. Our first meeting with Josephites was when Sisters Rita and Chanel came to our home on several occasions.  I remember my mother being in great awe of these two beautiful women. Their compassion and gentleness touched my parents very much. It was after this sad event that I was taken from the State school and sent to Holy Infancy Catholic School no doubt due to the influence of these two wonderful women.”

Chanel was also a very practical person, in charge of the kitchen at Sacred Heart Convent.  She was a homemaker and provider; physically strong and a striking person to look at.  Sisters remember her speaking to the cook in the kitchen in her later years and arranging that any surplus be put aside to share with needy people.  Her aid was often enlisted by the local priests and by the St Vincent de Paul Society. Chanel’s half-brother, was a prominent Catholic businessman and a St Vincent de Paul member, and would have handed on Chanel’s name where she could meet particular needs.

As well as her other duties, Chanel was chosen as Bursar in 1923, and elected to the Council of the Sisters in 1926, serving in that capacity for many years.

Sr Chanel died on 21 August 1950

Gallery / Whakaahua

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