Margaret Mary was nine when the family emigrated from Ireland in the hope that her father would have better health and that there would be a better life for the family. During her first nine years, the roots of her Irish culture and the Irish Catholic Faith were deeply embedded, and after spending eighty years of her life in New Zealand, people would still refer to her as the little Irish Sister.

After working as a priest’s housekeeper, Margaret Mary, aged 21, entered the Sisters of Compassion in September, 1935.  Her Religious name was Sister Mary Majella. She was Professed on 19 March 1938. Following her Religious training, Sister undertook her nursing training and over the years worked in Timaru, Wagga Wagga, Carterton, Jerusalem-Hiruhārama, and Whanganui where she was often in charge.

Sister Majella, like many women of her generation, was a hard worker and skilled in the many crafts attributed to women. She would cook and bake, make jams and preserves. She sewed and always had knitting on hand. One of her last requests, on the day before she died, was to ask Sister Dorothea to bring her knitting.

Sister Majella was very much part of the Māori Mission, supporting the other Sisters with this apostolate.

During the last twelve years of Sister Majella’s life, she had regular contact with her sister, Maureen, who lived a short drive away. The two sisters met once a week to go to town and shop. They had their routine and for the first time in their adult lives they had time to reminisce on the family and on life.

Sister Majella was a woman of peace; she was gentle and never judged those who came to the door as deserving or undeserving poor. Everyone was greeted with compassion and at times she may have seemed an easy touch. Sister had chosen a way of life to reflect on the face of Christ and His compassion to all she met and to the best of her ability that is what she did. She helped to shape and form Sisters of Compassion by her example for over sixty years. Sister Majella was a good and faithful servant to the God she loved.

Birth                    Entered               Professed              Died              Place of Death           Place of Burial

16.05.1914         05.09.1935         19.03.1938        09.11.2003          Wanganui            Aramoho Cemetery