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Sisters of Today

Sister Catherine Woodcock

Profiled in September 2007 (updated April 2013)catherine_woodcock

It is over 50 years since I entered the Sisters of St Joseph. I remember quite vividly at the time saying to any who would listen (and I think to God) that I would give it a go but didn’t really expect to last longer than a few weeks. I am still here, and God’s call remains a mystery.

I was born and bred in Taihape and for that I am grateful. Family, extended family, lots of wide open spaces and of course schooling at the local convent all formed and shaped me. Our Mum died suddenly in 1953 when I was 12 and her death had far reaching effects. One of them was a decision made to send me to Sacred Heart, Wanganui to boarding school to learn to be a young lady! Am still not sure if I achieved that goal but there were other benefits.

The influence of the Sisters throughout my formative years helped me make the decision to enter the novitiate. It was not long before I joined others in starting to study by correspondence for Teacher’s Certificate. Practical work was done at the local primary and then at SHC under the watchful eyes of more senior sisters. Soon I started my teaching career. The years spent at SHC also had many extra-curricular activities in the form of boarder supervising and entertaining, netball coaching, visiting parents and continued study to achieve necessary qualifications for teaching. No wonder the day started with the rising bell at 5.30am. I still think it amazing that I found teaching enjoyable.

I also spent years teaching at Tenison College in Hastings. That was so different from Wanganui because it was not a boarding school. Teachers’ refresher courses kept me stimulated and there is no denying that teenagers did that too. Once again there were still plenty of extra-curricular activities. In my last year teaching there, Tenison was closed and I launched into pastoral ministry for a few years in the Hawkes Bay.

Vatican II had a huge influence in religious life and of course in the church. They were challenging times and I needed to often look at my commitment and ask ‘why do I stay?’ This was also the time we looked to see where the needs were in the community. I became involved with a ministry in Strathmore where we lived and worked among the people there. It was a life-giving time.

I became the boarder’s mistress for the new hostel at Sacred Heart College in Whanganui. There were 70 teenagers under my care and with a very supportive group of parents we got things up and operating very effectively. I enjoyed the change from teaching and in the process wore many other hats in that ministry.

Over the years I Trained in Marriage Guidance, Family Court Work, Counselling and Supervision, working in both Hastings and Wanganui. Alongside this was involvement in voluntary work with Women’s Refuge and Victim Support.

At present I am involved in spiritual direction and supervision with people and run quiet days and retreats. I have always been interested in delving deeper and creatively searching with others ways to live fully in tune with our Creator and all of creation. This will be a lifetime journey and I am grateful that I have supportive people to accompany me.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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