Sisters of the Past

Sister Fabian - Violet Brennan

Profiled in May 2007  

28 November 1916 19 May 1991

 Sister Fabian was a shy and retiring person, and thus the qualities that gave her strength and richness to her personality were not so readily recognisable. As one Sister who lived in community with her as a young religious said ‘her common sense, her kindness and practicality, her sense of humour were qualities that I greatly admired in her”.

Fabian was born in Te Aroha on the 28 November 1916 to John Brennan, a railway guard, and his wife Mary Ellen Louisa, nee Petersen. Her father was remembered as being rather strict and her mother quiet and retiring. This new baby, named Violet Winefride was born into a family which eventually included Christina, Josie, Margaret, Ivy, and a brother Ray. After her primary schooling in Hastings, she became a boarder at Sacred Heart Convent, Whanganui.

Violet Brennan entered the Sisters of St Joseph on 1 March 1934, and was professed on 13 July 1937, taking the religious name of Fabian. She joined her sister Christina, who had entered the sisters in 1926, and was now Sister de Chantal. Fabian became a primary school teacher, and taught in many of the Convent Schools of the lower North Island. She led some of these schools as principal.

She was a highly practical woman and her teaching was strict but thorough. As well as time in the classroom Fabian added on those duties of sisters in the care of the local church. All was done quietly, painstakingly, with a practical down-to-earth approach.
In her mid-life ill health began to overtake her a chronic state which she lived with day to day. Yet she still went quietly on her way living with the limitations that her health imposed but still bringing to her community life that same perseverance and painstaking care in all that she did.

In later years she had an added dimension of suffering as she watched the failing health of her sisters, Josie and Sister de Chantal, and gave much of her time to being a support to both of them. At Fabian’s sudden death on 19 May 1991, in Palmerston North hospital ,they were left without a loved and caring sister.

At her Mass of Requiem, Sister John Bosco delivered the eulogy, and spoke of knowing Fabian in her early years. Fabian had modelled for her a religious life which was committed both to the Sisters and to the work of the Church, and that was persevering, dedicated, and filled with laughter and wry humour.
Fabian’s funeral was held at St Brigid’s Church, Feilding, and she was buried at Aramoho Cemetery.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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