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Sisters of Today

Sister John Bosco Kendall

Profiled in October 2005 (updated May 2013)John_Bosco_Kendall

I am the third eldest and second girl in a family of six boys and two girls.  The earliest years of family life were spent on a small farm a few miles west of Taumaranui on the banks of the Whanganui River.  The family later moved to Aria and Pio Pio and, after the death of our father, to Feilding.  When our mother died two years later, our maternal grandmother took over the responsibility of caring for the family.

Holidays spent in Whanganui brought me into contact with the Sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth so the Sisters and the Whanganui River have virtually always been part of my life.  Sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth taught me for most of primary and all of secondary school for which I was a boarder at Sacred Heart College.  When I decided that religious life was the commitment I wanted, it seemed natural to join the Sisters I had known all my life.

I entered the Novitiate at Mt St Joseph in January, 1955 and was professed as a Sister of St Joseph of Nazareth in January 1958.  I was appointed to Feilding and so began my teaching ministry in the very school where I had been taught by our own Sisters in my primary years.  The next nineteen years were spent in Hastings, Patea, Otaki, Ohakune and back in Feilding from where I was appointed as Bursar or Financial Administrator for the Congregation.  This brought me back to Whanganui for four years during which we celebrated the Centenary of our arrival in New Zealand and, after much soul-searching and discernment, made decisions to demolish the three-storey convent and boarding school, move our Administration Centre and hearthplace to Mt St Joseph, and build Nazareth on that property.

In 1981 I began 16 years of ministry as Pastoral Assistant in the parishes of Levin, Tawa and Waiwhetu.  Most significant in these years was my involvement in the development of parish liturgy and the Adult Catechumenate programme.  It was also a period when I had opportunities to serve on a number of Church bodies at both Diocesan and National level. A particularly significant appointment was that of Chaplain to the Archdiocesan Council of the Catholic Women’s League of Aotearoa-New Zealand in 1986 because it was the first time a woman had been appointed as a Diocesan League Chaplain.

In 1996 I was asked to move back to Whanganui to take over the Proprietor’s responsibilities for Sacred Heart College.  Little did I realize what the ensuing years would involve!  The years between 1997 and 2003 meant the closure of Sacred Heart College, chairing the Establishment Committee for Cullinane College, organizing the moving of St Joseph’s Church to the Cullinane site, leading the restructure of the Villa Maria Hostel Trust, the purchase of Halswell Court Motels, their redevelopment as a hostel and the relocation of Villa Maria from the Sacred Heart property to Halswell Street.

Since 2003, involvement in adult faith formation, service on the Palmerston North Diocesan Liturgy Commission, policy drafting for our Congregation Trust Board, an appointment as chaplain to the National Board of Catholic Women’s League, Aotearoa-New Zealand, and pursuing an interest in landscape photography have brought both variety and a continuing enthusiasm for living life as energetically as possible.

My years of religious life have been full and happy ones, at times challenging, now and again frustrating but always satisfying.  I am forever grateful for all the people who have touched my life and shared friendship with me and for all the opportunities for personal, spiritual, and professional development that I have been blessed with through being a Sister of St. Joseph.

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