Sister Catherine Hannan

Catherine entered the Sisters of Compassion on 8 September 1953 and made her first Profession as a Sister of Compassion in 1956. Shortly after, [her Profession] she completed her teacher training at Loreto Hall in Auckland. Sister Catherine taught at our Homes of Compassion at Island Bay, Carterton, Jerusalem, Ranana and Wilcannia, Australia. She returned to New Zealand in 1974, after having completed a diploma [of Counselling] at the Institute of Counselling, Sydney, and graduating in Social Studies (Honours) at the University of Sydney. She was a Senior Social Worker at Catholic Social Services Wellington for several years and acted as Arohata Women’s Prison Catholic Chaplain.

Sister Catherine was the leader of the Sisters of Compassion from 1986–1999. During this period sister attended a spirituality and scripture course at Boston College USA and also at St George’s College, Jerusalem, Israel.

Following her term as leader of the Sisters of Compassion, Catherine was the chairperson of the Caritas Board and represented Caritas New Zealand at the Asian Partnership for Human Development. This took her to countries in Asia to review projects they were founding. They included projects on sustainable agriculture, the empowerment of poor women and ways to counteract the trafficking of women and children for prostitution and other evil purposes.

In addition, Catherine served as a member of the Wellington Catholic Archdiocese Pastoral Council and was a member of the Wellington Archdiocesan Justice and Peace Commission. She was part of a group that presented submissions to [a] Parliamentary Select Committees on the Employment Relations Bill, Prostitution Reform Bill and the Responsible Gambling Bill. This group is a watchdog for the church on social justice issues.

Sister Catherine served on the board of Challenge 2000, a Wellington-based youth development and social service. With Sister Marcellin Wilson RSM and a small group, they formed the Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust to provide accommodation for single homeless women.

From 2011 until 2013 Sister continued to be part of the fulltime staff at the Compassion Centre Soup kitchen. She found this to be an extremely fulfilling Mission. From 2014 her main task was to welcome guests coming for a meal, an excellent opportunity to meet staff and guests.

Sister Catherine Hannan was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in the New Year’s Honours 2020, in recognition of her services to the community.

Catherine once wrote in an article for the WEL-Com on: Why she became a religious and why she stayed. She wrote:My life has become an adventure into love, a passion, a spiralling down into the mystery of God, a God search that consumes more and more of my being. It is not only that the love of God is the impelling force but I am endeavouring to give truth to Paul’s words ‘I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me.’ Would I do it again? I would want to do no other.”

Born                   Entered              Professed              Died              Place of Death           Place of Burial

19.08.1935       08.09.1953       19.03.1956        12.03.2020          Wellington             Karori Cemetery