At the age of 25, Johanna entered the Sisters of Compassion and was given the name of Loyola, because of her great devotion to Saint Ignatius of Loyola. During her Religious Life Sister’s work was varied and rewarding. She cared for babies at Our Lady’s Home of Compassion, Island Bay, and St Vincent’s Home, Auckland. Sister cared for children in Broken Hill (Australia), and Island Bay, and she cared for the aged in Timaru and Wagga Wagga (Australia).
In 1979, Sister Loyola was appointed full-time Chaplain at the Hutt Hospital where she worked for the next 14 years. During this time she was frequently called to support parents with newborn disabled babies. In 1988, Sister Loyola with three mothers and a mid-wife, established at Hutt Hospital the first Still Born Support Group. This is now a nationwide organization. After 7 years of lobbying, a memorial stone for stillborn babies was installed at the Taita Cemetery.
Moving back to the Home of Compassion at Island Bay, Sister Loyola spent the next 15 years looking after her organic vegetable garden and teaching us all how to compost. About this time she joined Hutt Valley Forest and Bird, enjoying her fortnightly trips to Sommes Island to plant trees. Sister Loyola Galvin was awarded a QSM in the 1996 New Year’s Honours List for her work as a full-time, chaplain at the hospital and with Lower Hutt Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support Group. She won the New Zealand Garden magazine’s Gardener of the Year award in 2008 and, in the 2014 New Year’s Honours, she became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to gardening.
Sister Loyola captured the hearts of New Zealanders after the release of an award-winning documentary, “Gardening with Soul”. Filmmaker Jess Feast followed Sister for a year while she tended her garden.
Sister died on 22 May at St Joseph’s Home of Compassion, Silverstream where she was lovingly cared for by the nurses.
Birth Entered Professed Died Place of Death Place of Burial
12.05.1922 20.08.1947 19.03.1950 22.05.2021 Silverstream Karori Cemetery