He married Susannah Cairns on 26 January, 1874, and migrated to New Zealand a few years later on the James Nicole Fleming with his wife and two children, Katherine aged 2 years, and Bridget, aged 1 year. They settled in Timaru.
Katherine was in her thirties when she entered the Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Timaru. The convent in Island Bay had just opened in 1906, and this would explain how she came to meet Suzanne Aubert at the end of that year. Not long after she became a Postulant it was discovered that she had cancer of the breast which prevented her reception as a Novice. When Suzanne Aubert met her she was ill from pneumonia and she was admitted to St Joseph’s Home of Compassion, Buckle Street as a patient.
Katherine confided in Suzanne how she loved the Sisters of the Sacred Heart with whom she had been educated and had been a Postulant with them. She had hoped that she would be cured and that she could dedicate her life to God in Religious life. However, she grew rapidly worse.
Suzanne Aubert’s charity was equal to the occasion as she was the last person in the world to interfere with anyone’s vocation. Here was a young woman dying. She wrote to Archbishop Redwood asking his advice on what could be done. On 15 November, 1906, he replied to her:
I have examined the case proposed by you yesterday, and here is my solution: It will be necessary to have the young girl inscribed as Postulant as soon as possible; and in a few weeks’ time, a Novice. Then, when her illness shows that death is not far off, but while she still has her full consciousness, I can shorten the time for her novitiate, and permit her to make her vows. By this means she will die a Religious. If, by some marvel, she should be restored to health, it would be necessary for her to make a year’s Novitiate, including the time she has already passed as a Novice. This will, I think, give you pleasure, and it will be a great consolation for that poor child.
It was under these circumstances that Mother offered Katherine the opportunity to be admitted to the Sisters of Compassion so that she could take her vows of a Sister of Compassion before she died, if she so chose. Katherine accepted the offer. She was received as a Postulant on 15 November, and on 8 December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, she was given the habit, with the name of Sister Mary Dimas – the Good Thief. She lived as a Novice for just a month, and pronounced her vows on 13 January, 1907, not long after her 32nd birthday. She died that same day. Katherine was the second member of the Sisters of Compassion to die, and she is buried in the original plot at Karori in the same grave as Sister Mary de Lourdes, who was Professed on her deathbed in 1903.
Born Entered Professed Died Place of Death Place of Burial
01.01.1875 15.11.1906 13.01.1907 13.01.1907 Island Bay Karori Cemetery