Her parents, Michael and Anastasia, were farmers, and Teresa was the youngest of twelve children – eight girls and four boys. Her father died when Teresa was young and her mother brought up the family. Four of the girls entered Religious life, two joined an Order in France (Sisters Benigna and Philomena); Sister Kevin came out to New Zealand with another sister (Mrs. Daly) and joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in Whanganui. In 1928, Teresa and Anastasia (Mrs. Lowe) came to New Zealand to stay with their uncle, the father of Father Kevin McGrath S.M.
On July 14, 1931, Teresa entered the Sisters of Compassion and received her Religious name Sister Mary Leonard of Port Maurice, a name she treasured, and was always delighted when it was possible to have a Mass said in his honour. Sister Leonard was Professed on the Feast of St. Joseph, 1934.
She kept in close contact with her family, following the lives of her many nieces and nephews both in New Zealand and in Ireland. Her mother lived to a great age, and besides her own children brought up two nieces who also entered Religious life.
After her Profession, Sister Leonard spent most of her Religious life looking after children. She was at St. Vincent’s in Auckland for thirteen years, caring for the babies, and nine years in Ward four, caring for the little boys.
Sister Leonard celebrated her Golden Jubilee of Profession in 1984 at Island Bay, and then journeyed up to Whanganui to be with her sister, Sister Kevin, who celebrated her 100th birthday. She was very happy at Whanganui, so it was decided to let her remain at Aubert Home, as a Community Sister, and also to enable her to be close to Sister Kevin.
In 1987, Sister had a stroke which left her powerless on one side and unable to speak. She was looked after in the Home, and soon became a much-loved resident. She regained her speech to a limited degree and was able to enjoy the company of others.
Sister Leonard died on the Feast of Corpus Christi, and the Requiem Mass was held at St. Mary’s Church, Whanganui. Sister walked in the spiritual footsteps of Suzanne Aubert, showing fortitude and strength as a faithful and dedicated Sister of Compassion.
Birth Entered Professed Died Place of Death Place of Burial
19.09.1898 14.07.1931 19.03.1934 05.06.1988 Whanganui Aramoho Cemetery