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Sister Mary Maher (Mary Therese Maher)

List of Deceased Sisters

Date of Death 03/06/2021

SMSM SistersSister Mary Maher

Born:          20 April 1923

Professed:   9 March 1956

Died:          3 June 2021

Mary Therese Maher was born in Strathfield on 20th April 1923 to James and Eve Maher, the eldest of their six children. After working in as a clerk and later in accountancy, Mary joined the SMSMs in Wahroonga on 15th August 1953 and as Sr. Mary Madonna made her First Profession of Vows on 9th March 1956 in St. Patrick’s Church in the city. She was called to her eternal rest by her loving God on 3rd June 2021 after 65 years of committed life as an SMSM.

Mary came to the congregation with many personal gifts – a sharp intelligence, an interest in world affairs and much life experience. She had often accompanied her father in his work in the St. Vincent de Paul Society and her love for the poor is reflected throughout her life.

After First Profession Mary left Sydney to help set up the new novitiate in Watsonia, Melbourne. Some months later, she set out for New Zealand where she did her teachers training at Loreto Hall. After graduation, she became a member of the Maori Mission with other SMSM. This was the beginning of her various Ministries – a rich tapestry of service to the congregation and service to people who were poor - poor materially, emotionally, and/or spiritually. After several years on the Maori Mission, Mary returned to Australia to be Acting Novice Mistress for six months in 1963.

At the end of that year Mary was missioned to the Solomon Islands leaving on 18th December in the “Tulagi”. There Mary taught in the Primary School, until she was appointed to the Teachers’ Training College, Villa Maria, for women students especially the local Sisters. Once more she was to “set out”. This time back to Sydney as a member of the Provincial Council.

After 4 years of experience on the Council as Assistant Provincial, Mary was appointed as Provincial. Barely in office, she went to the General Chapter in Rome in 1971. The decisions of the Chapter which had been called to implement the directives of Vatican II involved widespread changes in religious life and our places of mission. This was surely a very challenging time to be in leadership, but Mary with her wisdom and openness to the Spirit was the right person for this challenge.New missions were opened in the mainland of Papua New Guinea and Sisters left to go to Peru and to Bangladesh.  During her two terms as Provincial there were changes in Australia as the novitiate was moved back to Wahroonga and the Sisters withdrew from the school in Deer Park, Melbourne.  Some Sisters began more individual apostolates, another departure from the past.

Mary had a great gift for encouraging the Sisters whether on visitation as Provincial or as wise counsel throughout her life.  She had a great love for the congregation and was always open to new ways of working for the Kingdom of God. Finishing as Provincial, after a time of rest, retreat and renewal, Mary went to Xavier Institute in Port Moresby for a year. However, in 1977, Mary was one of the pioneers in the ministry to Migrants and Refugees, based in Flemington, working mostly among the Vietnamese refugees, especially teaching English.

In 1987, Mary moved to Brisbane where she ministered with the Court Support Group for young juveniles before the courts.  Then in 1992, Mary returned to Sydney and was once more involved in various ministries including teaching English at Mamre, a Project of the Sisters of Mercy for the long-term unemployed. She moved to Mt. Druitt to be closer but here she faced the greatest test of her faith, the gradual loss of her sight due to macular degeneration.

During her later years Mary lived at Plumpton until moving to Our Lady of Consolation Aged Care.  Mary’s determination to overcome adversity enabled her to walk again after a knee replacement and two fractures, much to the staff’s amazement. Mary’s interest in others meant that she learnt the names of her carers, listened to their stories and recognised their voices.  With the help of technology, Mary kept up to date on politics, her football teams and could never get enough of SMSM news.  Ongoing formation had been part of Mary’s life and continued with talking books and with Sisters reading to her.  Her conversation reflected her intellect and this remained with her until her final hours.

Over her 65 years as SMSM, Mary repeatedly set out and set out again, always striving to live her Marist missionary religious life to the full. Leaving behind the darkness of her blindness, she has surely been welcomed into God’s marvellous light.  Thank you, Mary, for all the great things God has done in and through you.


Sister Jennifer Mary Clarke smsm