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Sisters of Today

Sister Mary McKenna

Profiled in Jun 2005 (updated March 2013)Mary McKenna

I was born in Wellington, the eldest of five children.  When I was about four years old my family moved to a farmlet just out of Wanganui.  I had a free and easy childhood, attending the little country school down the road.  I went on from there to St Mary’s Primary School and then on to Sacred Heart College.  When I left school I worked in a clothing factory for a few years and there gained a certain amount of sewing expertise.  I moved on to work as cook in a tea-rooms.  I had always done the cooking at home as my mother was often quite sick.

I entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St Joseph about a month before my 20th birthday.  I was one of the first to complete my training years at the newly purchased Mt St Joseph.  There was a coal range there and as I had experience of one at home I did a fair amount of the cooking.  I also went over to Sacred Heart to help out in the new laundry.

On completing my training I went to Sacred Heart to work in the kitchen with two or three other sisters.  We had large Aga stoves to cook on for about 120 boarders and 60 sisters.  I spent many years at Sacred Heart, but in between time had shorter periods in other houses.  At another time at Sacred Heart, the kitchens were modernised and good gas stoves and ovens replaced the old Agas.

Other opportunities I had were to cook for Conference groups at the Little Company of Mary’s Calvary Complex in Wellington.  I also spent time attending Polytech catering courses in Wellington, which I really enjoyed. Later I worked at Marcellin Hall Conference Centre in Auckland for seven years, with responsibility for the kitchen.
I travelled to participate in personal growth and spirituality courses on two different occasions at Baulkham Hills, Australia.
As my cooking ministry came to an end I was able to help out with the craft work at Josophia in Wanganui.  For a time I lived in a block of Council flats here in Wanganui.  Having a stroke put an end to some activities, and I moved to live in a flat which was part of a block with three other Sisters.  My health further deteriorated and I am now a resident of Nazareth Rest Home in Whanganui.  In 2013 I celebrated the 60th anniversary of my Profession.

When I look back on my work I feel that it was rewarding despite the times when it was very hard work.  We didn’t have much time for any out-reach as we were pretty much full time keeping people fed!  Now I have a prayer ministry as I can’t get out much.  The times I do go out for gatherings and appointments, I take the Josephite spirit with me.

“The water that I will give
will become in you a fountain springing up
into a wellspring of eternal life”.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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