When she was four years old, her father died of pneumonia. Her mother had five children to care for and the youngest was just five weeks old. The family moved to the South Island to live in Blenheim. With the pension received from the Defence Department, she was able to cope, and people were always very kind to them. As soon as the children were old enough to go to work they contributed with their wages. They were a very close family.
Beryl’s mother had been a music teacher, and her only wish was that the children would live and die good Catholics. They all went to the Mercy Convent in Blenheim, but as there was no Catholic secondary school there, they went to Blenheim College. After finishing college, her oldest brother, Ron, went to a Juniorate in Australia, but returned a few years later and got a job in Wellington. Her sister, Patsy, stayed home until she saw her mother could manage without her, and then entered the Good Shepherd Convent in Christchurch. Athol, the next brother won a scholarship for St. Patrick’s College, Wellington for three years, and stayed on in Wellington working either in the Lands and Survey or an insurance company. The youngest boy, Vern, also won a scholarship and also went to Wellington, leaving Beryl to help her mother.
Beryl’s vocation to Religious life developed slowly and she decided to become a Sister of Compassion on hearing about their caring for needy and handicapped people. She was 26. At reception into the Noviciate, she received her Religious name Sister Mary Mechtilde. Soon after Profession, she commenced her General Nursing Training at the Island Bay Hospital and obtained her State Registration in 1943.
Over the following 58 years, Sister lived and worked in most of our Homes of Compassion and filled many administrative positions. At the 1969 General Chapter, Sister was elected onto the Leadership Team. Sister was always interested in people, especially children.
On her file there is a reference given to her in 1963. It reads: “She is a woman of outstanding personal character and is extremely highly regarded by the inmates of the Home of Compassion and all other persons who come in contact with her.” How true it was. Her face would always light up whenever you came in contact with her.
Sister celebrated her Golden and Diamond Jubilees at St Vianney’s in Timaru. At these two wonderful occasions, she acknowledged her gratitude to God for her long life as a Sister of Compassion. Her third milestone was, as a resident at Aubert Home in Wanganui, she celebrated her 100th birthday.
We, too, celebrate this rewarding and rich life generously shared with and for Christ’s poor and disadvantaged. Sister in her compassionate and prayerful way shared their journey and helped ease their burdens with dedication and love.
Born Entered Professed Died Place of Death Place of Burial
25.09.1908 20.11.1934 19.03.1938 31.05.2010 Wanganui Aromoho Cemetery