The financial running of the farm was crucial to the quality of their family life and in her written memoirs Sister Laboure relates how they all shared the load of daily chores, the pranks they played on each other, and the many fun moments together at the end of their working day. From this happy and secure environment, the seed of two vocations was planted for the Butler family. Her parents were generous to God with the giving of two daughters, Philomena and her sister Rose. They entered the Sisters of Compassion together in February 1949 and journeyed their respective Religious lives supporting one another.
Following Profession, Philomena, now known as Sister Laboure, spent time in Auckland, Jerusalem, Carterton, Broken Hill, Wagga Wagga, Wanganui and lsland Bay, all the time displaying her skills in child care and with nursing the frail adults. Sister was motivated by the spirit of Mother Aubert ever ready to take up the next challenge regardless of any inadequacies she may have felt with her duties. To seek Christ in the poor little ones and the elderly in need of care at the end of their lives came from her love of God, the writings of Mother Aubert, and from her own compassionate understanding of people and their situations.
Sister had a great passion and love for art. Opportunities for this talent to blossom were given to her in Jerusalem where she had her own studio room. Great was her thrill when a tourist or visitor to the Mission would admire and buy a painting she had done and framed. This talent developed further when she became a member of an Artist Club in Wellington. There she received lessons in new techniques and she appreciated their critique of her paintings. Animals, especially dogs and horses, were a familiar feature in her landscape sketches as significant reminders of her life on the farm and her love for animals. She used her gift of art to overcome the dark periods of sickness and pain which she often experienced throughout her life. As poor health and the physical disabilities of rheumatoid arthritis advanced, Sister Laboure courageously accepted her limitations. With simplicity of faith she said: God has been good to me and given me many graces and blessings to overcome obstacles in my life. I have lived a fruitful and rich life as a Sister of Compassion. I can only be grateful for all He has done for me. lf my life reflects anything, it must be the Divine Help given in the face of all odds.(from ‘My Story’)
Sister Laboure died peacefully at the Broadview Rest Home and Hospital in Wanganui.
Born Entered Professed Died Place of Death Place of Burial
14.06.1928 21.02.1949 15.09.1951 15.10.2013 Wanganui Aramoho Cemetery