As a teenager she had a very active social life and loved gathering round the piano singing, and of course dancing. As a school girl during the First World War, she visited the Home of Compassion at Island Bay and was struck by the happy atmosphere that prevailed there. It was hard for her to give up her social life, but she felt drawn to the Sisters of Compassion which served the less privileged in society.
Molly finally decided to enter the Sisters of Compassion in 1923. Her very dear friend was Emmett McHardy and when he entered the Marist Seminary to become a priest, it opened the way for her to follow God’s call too. Mother Aubert was still alive when Molly entered on 31 March, 1923, and it was Mother who gave Molly her Religious name, Sister Mary Eustace. Mother Aubert was also present when Sister Eustace made her First Profession as a Sister of Compassion on 21 November, 1925.
Life would not have been easy for Sister Eustace in those early days. At the time Mother Aubert was negotiating with the Health Department to establish a Training School for Sister Nurses at the Home. Sister Eustace was one of the first four Sisters to gain State Registration as a nurse in 1934, and she became a skilled surgical nurse. It was towards the end of her Nursing Training, that Emmett McHardy came by ambulance to the Home. She remembers him uttering those now famous words: “Here I am a failure!” It was a poignant moment for Sister Eustace. She spent time with him as he lay dying in the Isolation Ward, until his death on 17 May, 1933.
During her life, Sister spent most of her active years at Island Bay, Auckland, and Jerusalem on the Whanganui River (and everyone knows just how much she hated being there). But, being the valiant woman she was, she struggled on and remained faithful.
With the passing of Sister Eustace, our living link with Suzanne Aubert has gone. It is really like closing an important chapter in the history of the Sisters of Compassion. Her life spanned most of the 20th century. All who knew her remember her as someone who helped affirm the importance of love, kindness, simplicity and helpfulness in life, qualities which were constantly imparted by Suzanne Aubert to her Sisters. It is fitting that Sister Eustace Conaglen has handed this legacy on at the threshold of a new century.
Born Entered Professed Died Place of Death Place of Burial
15.02.1901 31.03.1923 21.11.1925 20.12.1999 Silverstream Karori Cemetery