Josephine entered the Sisters of Compassion at Buckle Street, on 28 November, 1905. At her reception she was given the religious name Sister M. Francis. Sister Maracelle Small was her Novice Mistress.
When the Novitiate was transferred to Island Bay in 1908, Sister Francis was the first Novice to be professed in the new Island Bay Home on 17 September, 1908.
For most of her early professed life Sister Francis was stationed at Buckle Street, although on the 15 October, 1910 she was sent to Auckland as Sister in Charge, but unfortunately had to return the following year to undergo an ear operation. The story is told that Mother Aubert approached Sister Francis to ask her if she got train sick. “No, Mother”, she replied. “Then you can come with me to Auckland to-morrow morning”, said Mother. Poor Sister Francis was in consternation, for she had broken a front tooth which she thought disfigured her, and she had no means of repairing the damage — any suggestion of which Mother would have poo-poohed! What was to be done? An enterprising Sister rose to the occasion and made a tooth of seccotine, or something similar. This served the purpose for close on two years.
Another story concerning Sister Francis relates to her return to Wellington from Auckland for an ear operation. The Bishop had instructed Father Holbrook to get a sleeping berth for Sister Francis. Mother Aubert, Sister’s travelling companion said she was getting one. However, they travelled second-class, and of course, had to sit up all night!
While celebrating her Silver Jubilee in 1933 sister slipped and broke her ankle, and from this time onwards her health was never the same. Ill health curtailed her active ministry and following a serious of strokes Sister Francis began a ministry of handcraft from her wheelchair. All admired her courage and perseverance with knitting and hand sewing. Her happy disposition won her many friends among the nursing and medical staff.
Sister Francis was most generous and devoted to the poor and the sick. She loved the duty of giving food and clothing to applicants at the ‘Slide’ at the Soup Kitchen at Buckle Street — a duty she fulfilled, at different times, for long periods. She hid her pious practices and devotions, but it is believed she offered her many painful sufferings for priests. Sister Francis died on Monday, the 14 June, 1943 in the presence of the Chaplain, Rev. Fr. Van Mechelin, S.M. and members of the Island Bay Community.
Born Entered Professed Died Place of Death Place of Burial
26.02.1873 30.12.1905 17.09.1908 14.06.1943 Island Bay Karori Cemetery