The Breen children were quickly introduced to farm duties such as hand-milking cows, herding the sheep from pasture to pasture, feeding the orphaned lambs, and trapping and skinning the rabbits that roamed the paddocks. Ellen quickly took up the role of assisting her father, gaining farm knowledge and taking on certain responsibilities for the farm. She accompanied her father through days of consistently heavy work, regardless of the weather and putting her personal ambitions on hold. This time of hardship, simplicity, and practicality in many ways shaped the future of Sr Felix’s life. Gradually her younger brothers relieved her of the farm work leaving Ellen free to pursue her heart’s desire of entering the Sisters of Compassion. She cherished her memories of home life, and the Irish Faith she inherited from her parents, and retained a strong love for the Rosary throughout her Religious life.
On 28 February, 1935, Ellen arrived in Wellington and entered the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion. After a six month period as Postulant, Ellen was initiated into the Novitiate and received the name of Felix, which means happy and jovial. For the next 75 years, Sr Felix happily dedicated her life to the poor and the disadvantaged. Her appointments took to her to the many communities within New Zealand and Australia. She reached out to the less fortunate, befriending them and helping them in practical ways until they could become self-sufficient. Her empathy towards them knew no bounds, offering friendship, new clothing, cooked meals, and the warm compassionate hospitality of the inner city Soup Kitchen where she served for many years. Her readiness to walk the extra mile with people who abused themselves with alcohol or drugs didn’t deter her enthusiasm to lift the load off their shoulders. She had the gift of improvisation if anything was lacking in the kitchen cupboards and not one was turned away without being fed or clothed. Her practical ways of caring for the environment, recycle, reuse, and renew, fitted comfortably with her motto ‘waste not, want not’.
Her Faith and devotedness in St Joseph to provide the necessary items for the community or for ministry never wavered and quite extraordinary donations of money, food or clothing would mysteriously appear at the door of the Homes where she lived. As time permitted, Sr Felix would visit the elderly and sick in their homes, attend to their personal needs, and help with household chores if she saw something was neglected. In later years, Sister spent long hours at her sewing
machine putting her sewing skills to practical use, diligently mending clothing or other household items. Smocking, knitting and crochet were her other interests. She retained her independence through using a motorised wheelchair which gave her the ability and freedom of the Rest Home to visit residents, and make visits to the chapel where she would frequently be seen praying the Rosary or Stations of the Cross.
Highlights : 1992 Civic Award; 2012 New Zealander of the Year Award Local Hero
These Awards give recognition to Sister Felix’s years of dedication and outstanding service as a Sister of Compassion to the disadvantaged in society.
Birth Entered Professed Died Place of Death Place of Burial
4.03.1915 28.02.1935 15.09.1937 26.05.2013 Heretaunga Karori Cemetery