Sisters of the Past

Sister Anselm - Margaret Brennan

Profiled in November 2007

23 May 1896 – 4 July 1989

 The little settlement of Kumara on the West Coast of the South Island, was the birthplace of Margaret Brennan.  Her parents were Edward, and Maria, nee Coughlan, of Ireland.
Little is known about Margaret’s early life except that she had a brother Frank of Greymouth who predeceased her.

Margaret entered the Sisters of St Joseph in Whanganui on 1 May 1924, and was professed on 20 January 1926, taking the religious name of Anselm.

Sister Anselm did not train as a teacher, instead becoming a ‘house’ sister – one who saw to the cooking, and she provided well for the sisters in each community.  She spent a great many years at Sacred Heart Convent in Whanganui, but also moved around many of the branch houses in the lower North Island.

Anselm was gifted in her house management skills and a good cook.  She is remembered as being very orderly and always wearing a crisp starched white apron.  Somewhere, at sometime, she gained the nickname of ‘Sparrow’ – possibly from Sacred Heart boarders.  It suited the busy, neat, little sister who at SHC had the duty of giving out the ‘lunch’ of morning and afternoon tea.  She was responsible for, and kept a clean and tidy boarders dining room, which was no mean task for over a hundred boarders.  She sometimes fell prey to the girls’ pranks, but she was also given to making succinct comments – possibly lost on the young women at the time.
Anselm was for a time responsible for preparing the meals in the Sacred Heart Infirmary.

In her spare time Anselm chose to play cards or the crochet doilies.  She had a great sense of humour and a special little chuckle that could break tensions and restore things to harmony. 

In her later years she retired to Nazareth Rest Home, where she died on 4 July 1989.  Her funeral was held in Nazareth Chapel and she was buried at Aramoho Cemetery.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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