Agnes father was a farmer. Two of her sisters, Bridget and Helen, became Sisters of Compassion. Her eldest sister, Mary, trained as a nurse, and never married. Her brother, Patrick, married and later adopted several children. Peter was killed in action in the Solomon Islands during World War II, and was buried there. John came back from the War with alcoholic problems which he struggled to overcome but subsequently lived a very Christian life. He was a daily communicant and assisted at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch until his death.
Agnes was brought up within a very loving family at Tinwald where her father had a farm. Farm life was quite a new venture for him, but in those days neighbours helped neighbour, especially during the Depression days. Agnes parents gave a great example and were always helping people this became part of their children’s upbringing.
When Agnes was nineteen years old, she felt the call to Religious Life very strongly. About this time, her mother died and she stayed home to keep house for her father. The following year her father re-married and Agnes entered the Sisters of Compassion at Island Bay on 7 September 1941. During her Novitiate, her brother Peter who was 20 months older than her, was killed in the War.
By this time Agnes had now received her Religious name Sister Mary Joan of Arc, and on 19 March 1944, she made her First Profession.
During 1945, Sister Joan began her nursing training and received her State Registration in General Nursing in 1948. This was followed by Maternity Training in 1949, then Midwifery. She was Sister in Charge of the Nursery for a number of years at Island Bay, and during that time she and Sister Peter went to Dunedin for Plunket training.
Sister Joan spent twenty-five years in Auckland, working in the Nursery there and later in charge of the Home and Hostel for Unmarried Mothers. There was also time for District Nursing. From Auckland Sister went to Wagga Wagga, Australia, where she relieved at the Aborigine Mission in Wilcannia. This involved district supervision and health care. On her return to New Zealand, Sister was appointed to Timaru where she continued nursing, this time to the chronically ill and later to Sacristan and Pastoral work at St. Vianney’s Home of Compassion.
During the 1980s, when she was still at Timaru, she suffered a slight heart attack and was put on light duties. At this stage she took up art, for which she had a natural talent, and received great joy in making cards. When St. Vianney’s was closed in 2001, she was transferred to Whanganui where she remained until her death on Sunday morning, 20 June 2010. She will be remembered for her kind, gentle manner, her sense of humour and her dedication as a loyal Sister of Compassion.
The funeral took place at Whanganui on 23 June, and she is buried at the Aramoho Cemetery, Whanganui.
Born Entered Professed Died Place of Death Place of Burial
23.04.1921 07.09.1941 19.03.1944 20.06.2010 Wanganui Wanganui Cemetery