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Sister Gaynor Ann LAVERTY

List of Deceased Sisters

Date of Death 30/04/2022

Sister Gaynor Ann Laverty

Born: 30th April 1945

Died: 30th April 2022

Sister Gaynor Ann was born in Dunedin, 30 April 1945, the fourth of the six children of Susan and Joseph Laverty. Her mother was from a very Catholic family and her husband supported her in bringing the children up as Catholics. Several of her friends speak of the warm welcome they always received at the Laverty home in Mosgiel.

Gaynor was always strongly attached to her family who remember her as lively and enthusiastic, having inherited the Irish/Scottish and English wit of her parents. In her newsy letters she kept her family up-to-date with her missionary life, and they supported her with boxes of items she could use in the school.

Her primary and secondary education was with the Sisters of Mercy in Dunedin. Her oldest sister, Maurya, became a Mercy Sister and was a source of inspiration to Gaynor throughout her entire life.

Although she was attracted by the life of the Mercy Sisters, Gaynor felt drawn to the missionary vocation of smsm. She entered the Heretaunga novitiate in 1963 and made her first profession on 8 December 1965. The following month she left to join the staff of St Anne’s Hostel for Maori Girls in Auckland.

After leaving school, Gaynor had started to train as a nurse at Dunedin Hospital, however as an smsm she took the path to teaching, training at Loreto Hall Training College in Auckland. She then packed her bags for Samoa where she joined the Savalalo community and taught at St Mary’s Primary School.

Two years later, in 1971, she moved to Leulumoega as assistant head teacher of St Joan of Arc Primary school, before sailing over to American Samoa to St Theresa’s in Leone. Gaynor was a competent head teacher, and after three years in Leone she was appointed as Head Teacher back in Savalalo.

After a break of some years, she was happy to return to Samoa in 1984, teaching there in Safotu, Vaimoso and Lepua until the end of 1989. Upon hearing of Gaynor’s death, a sister in Samoa wrote: “On Gaynor’s feet is the soil of Samoa – Savai’i, Upolu and American Samoa.”  Appropriately, at her funeral we sang: How lovely on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.

Gaynor loved formation work. She was involved in this service for the congregation in a number of places – at the novitiate at Heretaunga, with postulants in Wellington and Whangarei, and with sisters in temporary vows in Samoa and Fiji. Sisters remember her deep spiritual life and love of the congregation, and the wisdom that came through her teaching and life. Young sisters appreciated the encouragement she gave them.

 Gaynor herself greatly valued opportunities to grow in the knowledge and love of the Lord and our smsm vocation. In 1977 the congregation organized a programme in Rome for those working in vocation awareness. As a participant, Gaynor treasured the inputs given by Srs M. Ancilla and M. Emerentiana. She participated in the spirituality for leadership programme in Randwick, Sydney, (1981) and the international course for formation at the Institute of St Anselm in England, 1991.

The branches of the Marist family had begun a new apostolic venture in Auckland in 1979: the pastoral institute Marcellin Hall. Over the years of its establishment a number of smsm were staff members. Gaynor was there for two years in the 1990s, making some great friends during this time. She had the genuine qualities of faithfulness, loyalty, and not being judgmental.

She was a competent provincial financial administrator for the Province of the South Pacific after which she was open to being missioned overseas. During the six years she was in Fiji (1999 to 2005) she was the Sector Coordinator and the manager of Stella Maris Primary School. Gaynor also helped out at the Marist Brothers’ novitiate at Lomeri.

On her return to New Zealand in 2006 she spent three years in Whangarei, then in community in Otahuhu where she was responsible for the distribution of altar breads around the Auckland and Hamilton dioceses.

Over the years Gaynor underwent multiple surgeries to help her cope with her arthritic condition. At times she recuperated in community, then she was accepted into St Catherine’s Home, Ponsonby, in 2015. There she received wonderful support from the Sisters of Mercy and from staff.

Because of the progressive deterioration of her condition, Gaynor moved to Waiatarua Mercy Parklands in Ellerslie at the end of January this year. At 3.40 a.m. on the morning of her 77th birthday on 30 April 2022, when Sr Frances Hardiman was at her side, Gaynor entered peacefully into eternal life with God.

Her requiem Mass celebrated by Fr Michael O’Connor, sm, was held in the chapel of St Mary’s in Ponsonby where Gaynor so often prayed after she moved into St Catherine’s. Fr Michael also officiated at the graveside at Onehunga. We were blessed that Susan, the youngest of Gaynor’s three sisters and two brothers, could be with us for Gaynor’s funeral.

For years Gaynor had in her room a picture of the statue of Mary, Seat of Wisdom which had belonged to M.M. Jeanne d’Arc. A quote from the constitutions on the picture reads: “In fidelity to the Spirit, we shall discover Mary’s way of loving and serving, so as to be a little of her presence in the world” (Const. 10).  Gaynor lived this.


Sister Patricia Leamy, smsm