Maria entered the Sisters of Compassion on 4 March, 1942, and was given her Religious name Sister Mary Stephen. Sister Stephen was Professed on 15 September, 1944.
In 1946, Sister Stephen began her nursing training and received her Nurses’ Certificate and medal in 1948. She loved nursing, and was always a very caring compassionate person. What a surprise it must have been when she was sent to care for young migrant boys from England at the Castledare Boys’ Home in Perth! Our Sisters were there for only two years, and her next appointment was to St. Anne’s Home of Compassion, Broken Hill, where once more her nursing skills were put to good use.
Like most of our Sisters who went ‘out west’, Sister acquired a great love for Australia, and especially for the people of Broken Hill. During this period, Sister Stephen spent 10 years in Australia before returning to New Zealand, first to Timaru and then, after she was elected as Novice Mistress, she spent seven years at Silverstream before once more crossing the Tasman to become Superior at the Loreto Home of Compassion, Wagga Wagga. While there she saw the building of the new Home on Ashmont Avenue.
In 1978, she was transferred to Broken Hill. This time she was involved in the building of the new Chapel there. It was from Broken Hill that she was elected the Leader of the Sisters of Compassion in 1981.
During Sister’s term as Congregational Leader, she made a point of giving a small gift to all the Sisters on their Special Days. Her memory for details of the Sisters’ families was amazing thus showing her care and concern for them all. Sister touched so many people’s lives, the person off the street, the business professionals. She remembered everyone she had nursed, their families and who was connected to whom, making a profound impression on the young and not so young alike.
The last ten years of her life she lived to the full, including a year’s sabbatical leave in 1987, another term in Wagga Wagga, and finally a so-called quiet retirement at Silverstream where she was Pastoral Assistant to its residents.
During her last years, Sister Stephen became increasingly frail, and her illness was difficult to diagnose. Sister was amazingly resigned; she had an inner strength and seemed very much at peace. It was obvious that her last illness and death were to be the final expression of her consecration to the Lord, particularly through her Vow of Obedience. Obedience was the source of her strong and often dogmatic faith, and her acceptance, determination and resilience in living her life in a total act of self-giving to God and in the service of Jesus’ representatives are a hallmark of a Sister of Compassion.
Born Entered Professed Died Place of Death Place of Burial
04.01.1921 04.03.1921 15.09.1944 20.01.1999 Silverstream Karori Cemetery