I had four sisters and one brother, they have all now passed on and I am the only one left. I started my education at the Natovi Catholic School, at Burulevu, a village just down the road from where I lived. I went to secondary school at Ba with the Marist Sisters.

While at school I was discerning about what I would do in the future. I came to the conclusion I would be a Nurse or I would enter Religious Life. On holiday I visited the Sisters of Compassion at Chanel Home in Suva. The Sister I met on arrival at the Home of Compassion was so bubbly and welcoming that I thought, this is the life for me. Her welcome spoke to me about the Sisters, their spirit and all this without saying too much.  An incident that really decided my vocation to be a Sister of Compassion happened one evening during the holidays. My father had met an old Indian man, and brought him home to stay the night. I remember thinking, ‘he is here for free tobacco’. But now after joining the Sisters of Compassion I look back and see how much God was calling me. It all happened through prayer and the old Indian man. You know we don’t choose who we care for, we take everybody and everyone, all people in need. We don’t make any distinction, everyone is welcome, and we see Jesus in them. Now when I look back I think God was fashioning my life as a future Sister of Compassion. It was all planned for me, my journey.

I entered the Sisters of Compassion during 1961 and received my religious name Sister Mary Sarto. I was professed on the 15 September, 1964. I have worked in our different Homes of Compassion in New Zealand and in Fiji. I completed the Enrolled Nursing and Childcare Course. It was great doing my training both in the Hutt and in our own hospital. You were well trained and looked after and were always given the help you needed to learn, I loved it.

After my nursing training I moved to Fiji, from there I went to Timaru. I really enjoyed Timaru. It was the only Home we had down in the South Island and I loved it because it was near the sea. I left Timaru to be in charge of Chanel Home. I was in charge there at two different times. It was good to have my family visiting me, I enjoyed being in their company, and learning what they were all doing.

I have been living at Marian Court now for many years. While here I have worked in the Crypt under the church of St Mary of the Angels. The clients who visited the crypt were people mainly off the street; everyone was welcome to come in for a cup of tea, coffee, or milo served with nourishing sandwiches. Some of the street people enjoyed reading the newspapers.

unfortunately I became ill and had to have my leg amputated. The only other Sister of Compassion to have her leg amputated was Sister Martha Hinnegan in 1937. Now I look after the chapel ensuring everything is in place for Mass and other liturgical ceremonies.


Born                 Entered              Professed

01.02.1945      09.09.1961       15.09.1964