Their place was taken by her many nieces and nephews who from time to time have visited her. She also loved their telephone calls, letters, postcards and photographs and of recent years videos of marriages and baptisms.
When Bridget was twenty-two years old, a cousin of her father, Reverend Father Forrestal, visited their home, and she expressed a desire to travel to New Zealand to become a missionary.
Father Forrestal took her around New Zealand and introduced her to many religious houses, but he seemed to avoid going to the Sisters of Compassion. It was through his friend Father Doulaghty of Taihape that she heard of the Home of Compassion, and of course wanted to see it. The more she was told that the life there was too hard, the more she was interested, until finally she had her way and entered as a Postulant on 30 May, 1934.
On the feast of St Joseph, 1935, Bridget received the habit of a Sister of Compassion, and her Religious name of the Irish saint, Brendan. After two years she was professed, working in various parts of the Home, even doing a year in the school. She became frustrated there because the children were copying her Irish accent and according to her were not talking properly! Sister was then chosen to do her nursing training, and after three years gained her State Examination in Nursing in June, 1943.
Over the years Sister had various appointments: to Silverstream in 1948, and then to Suva in 1954, Auckland in 1960 and Wanganui in 1963, sometimes as Sister in Charge and other times as Treasurer, but all the time giving of herself to people in need of care and compassion.
In 1969 she was elected to the Leadership Team. The following years were times of change in the Church and she was asked to ‘walk’ with the young Professed Sisters and to follow the programmes asked for by the Second Vatican Council. Sister Brendan became the first Mistress for the Junior Professed. She gave the spiritual input, while Sister Couderc gave the doctrine. They became fast friends and complemented one another. Sister Brendan had no confidence in her ability to share her spirituality, and a mutual helping journey was begun with Sister Couderc making suggestions and giving pointers of what she could speak about with the junior Sisters. She became for Sister Couderc a listening ear and a support as she moved into new areas.
In 1975 Sister was appointed Sister in Charge at Sussex Street, remaining there until 1984 when she returned to Island Bay. During her time at Sussex Street she became a role model for the young women who were starting their Novitiate in the little house next door to the Centre. There they saw the ideal Sister of Compassion – one who reached out to those who came to the Soup Kitchen, often showering someone greatly in need, making sure they had proper clothing, taking over the cooking if necessary, or just lending a hand. All who came related to her and respected her. During this time in Sussex Street there grew a strong bond between Sister Brendan and Sisters Flora and Bernadette Mateo. They supported each other and gave something very special to the Sussex Street community. The strength of that friendship was shown in the dedication shown by Sister Bernadette right up to the time of Sister Brendan’s death.
Sister Brendan always had a very common-sense approach to life. She gave her all to God, but some of the terminologies and practices of prayer since the Vatican Council were confusing to her as she grew older. It became an increasing worry and was part of the unrest many of us witnessed particularly throughout 2005. It was something like the ‘dark night of the soul’ mentioned by some spiritual writers. But throughout her life Sister made many friends from all walks of life. She was a faithful friend to many, and a loving faithful witness of a God who loves and cares. At her Requiem Mass on 31 January, 2006, the chapel was filled with her many friends from all walks of life.
Born Entered Professed Died Place of Death Place of Burial
14.05.1912 30.05.1934 19.03.1937 28.01.2006 Wanganui Karori