Due to the influence of Catholic friends she took Instruction, and was received into the Catholic faith on 25 August, 1916. For the next two years Mary was a devout member of the Children of Mary in St. Anne’s Parish, Newtown, and during that time the germ of a vocation began to grow. Because she had not been born a Catholic, a special dispensation had to be obtained from Rome. She used to jokingly tell the story that when Pope Benedict XV granted the dispensation, he had said he would grant it provided she took his name! There is not such a stipulation on the rescript.
On 19 June, 1919, Mother Aubert’s birthday, Mary Cullen entered the Home of Compassion at Island Bay. At this time Mother was still stranded in Rome but she was back in time for Mary’s Reception where she was given her Religious name of Benedict. Sister Benedict was Professed on 19 March, 1922.
Sister was one of the first to do her nursing training in our own hospital where she gained honours in General Nursing. During the Napier Earthquake Sister helped nurse the Marist Seminarians from Mount St. Mary’s. Both Fathers J. Durning and B. Baillie SM kept in touch with her over the years.
History shows that her interest in ‘office’ work (she had worked in one of the Government offices before entering the Sisters of Compassion) led to her being selected Treasurer at Buckle Street in 1933, and in November of that year, she was appointed in the same position at the newly opened St. Joseph’s Home of Compassion, Silverstream. Six years later Sister was transferred to Auckland and then Wanganui. During November, 1940 Sister Benedict was appointed Treasurer at Island Bay. She held positions of responsibility during most of her religious life, including a term as Sister in Charge of St. Vianney’s in Timaru.
On 19 May, 1980 Sister had a fall and was admitted to our hospital, where she soon became the ‘darling’ of all the staff. Sister was a wonderful example to all around her, and even though her memory began to fail she never forgot to pray. She celebrated her 90th birthday a week before her death on 8 April, 1984.
Born Entered Professed Died Place of Death Place of Burial
07.04.1894 19.06.1919 19.03.1922 08.04.1984 Island Bay Karori Cementry