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Anne Weissman

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Date of death 22/01/2011

SISTER ANNE WEISSMANN (formerly SISTER MARY COSMAS) SMSM

“I sought him, whom my heart loves….” Song of Songs 3:1

Birth - 22 July 1915, Sydney, Australia
Postulate: 8 December 1944, Killara, NSW Australia
Novitiate: 15 August 1945, Heretaunga, New Zealand
First Profession: 15 August 1947, Heretaunga, New Zealand
Perpetual Profession: 15 August 1953, Ma’ufanga, Tonga
Born to Eternal Life: 22 January 2011, Sydney, Australia

Anne Magdalen Weissmann was born into this world on 22 July 1915. Anne was the sixth child and third daughter of Bernard Weissmann from Saxony, Germany and her mother Mary, nee Omodei from Sydney, Australia. Her siblings predeceased her – Catherine who was a Sister of St. Joseph, Ernest, Mary, Fredrick and his twin, Cosmas (who died as an infant).

After leaving school, Anne trained as a nurse and midwife. The glowing recommendations from the doctors, surgeons and matrons attest to her competence and capability. She worked in Western Australia and rural New South Wales before being asked to set up the new midwifery ward at the Waratah Mater Hospital. In all, Anne worked twelve years as a nurse before entering the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary on the 8th December 1944 at Killara.

Novitiate followed at Heretaunga, New Zealand, commencing on 15th August 1945. Anne received the name Sister Mary Cosmas. Two years later on the 15th August 1947, she made her First Profession and after a short period in New Zealand, Sister Mary Cosmas returned to Lourdes Hospital, Killara to take up the role of Matron. She gave herself unstintingly to the task until in 1951, she received her mission assignment to the Kingdom of Tonga and departed for New Zealand. There, she did some training in pharmacy in preparation for the dispensary work in Tonga. The Mercy Sisters very generously gifted her with medicines by the crate load when Sister M. Cosmas finally left for Tonga on the 1st August 1952. She was to spend the next 35 years ministering to her beloved Tongan people, known to all as Sister Malia Kosema.

Her first assignment was to Ma’ufanga dispensary and teaching in the school from 1951 to 1955. Sister Mary Cosmas moved to Houma in 1955 until 1964 again upgrading the dispensary and teaching in the school. At the end of this period, Cosmas was ill and returned to Australia for treatment. Once recovered, Cosmas participated in a Second Novitiate in New Zealand in 1965 and spent several months relieving in the Chatham Islands before returning to Nuku’alofa to be Superior as well as teaching in the school.

1970 saw Cosmas introduce the Billings Method of Family Planning to Tonga. This work required that she attend seminars in Sydney and Canberra at different times. In March of 1974, Cosmas became secretary to Bishop Finau. Her sound common sense and knowledge of Tonga made her a great support for the Bishop. From 1979 to 1985, Cosmas lived and worked in various communities - Fasi, the Regional House at Nuku’alofa, and again in Fasi when she worked at the diocesan archives.

One of the most endearing memories is that of Cosmas on her bicycle. Dressed in full habit with the wind blowing her veil, Malia Kosema was a familiar sight to the Tongans as she went about her work. She was also a source of great encouragement to younger SMSM who felt somewhat shy of being out and about on the Lord’s business on their bicycles. A number of sisters remember Cosmas as their mentor and guide following First Profession. With gratitude, they remember her instilling hope and joy in their missionary vocation and although she was direct in her talk, she was also very kind.

Cosmas returned to Australia to help care for her sister Mary, in 1987. Shortly after this, she was diagnosed with a cancer of the tongue which required surgery and careful monitoring. On the recommendation of her surgeon, Cosmas remained in Sydney and transferred to the Australian Province. The Regional of Tonga at the time described her as ‘faithful, loyal and one of the ‘hidden’ ones in the congregation. Tonga’s loss would be Australia’s gain.
Cosmas returned to her baptismal name, Anne, and was available for and willingly took up any work that was asked of her. Her assignments took her to Matraville, Wahroonga, Flemington and finally in January 1991 to Marist Villa at Killara. Her outreach included the homeless men at Gowrie House in inner Sydney, Kuringai Partners, a Catholic endeavour for support of Aboriginal ministry, the Family Groups at Wahroonga, secretarial work for the Provincial, visiting the Nursing Home, helping to feed patients, giving a listening ear to the lonely residents in the village and making her exquisite hand painted cards and selling them to support various mission projects. Anne rediscovered her gift of art. She loved beauty and Nature. Her delicate paintings and beautiful calligraphy were much in demand and attest to the beauty of the inner woman.

Anne cherished her times of solitude and prayer. She was a very private person who did not like to be the centre of attention. Family and friends were welcomed graciously even when she was in great pain although she could barely tolerate flippancy or small talk. These past few years, Anne suffered from many afflictions but despite them, always tried to attend meals in the dining-room at Lourdes Lodge. The last twelve months brought a yearning to be parted from this life. Suffering and excruciating pain became her constant companions. Reluctantly, Anne agreed to be admitted to Hornsby Hospital on 27th December 2010 for pain control. She was discharged back to Lourdes Lodge 4th January 2011. Thankfully, a bed became available almost immediately in the Nursing Home, and Anne was transferred there. On Friday, 21st January, Sisters Jennifer Clarke, Margaret Tisch and Cecilia Legani spent time with Anne along with her niece, Margaret Weissmann. At 5.30AM the following morning, Anne Magdalen Weissmann slipped peacefully away into eternal life.

On my bed at night, I sought him, whom my heart loves…..
The watchmen came upon me on their rounds:
‘Have you seen him whom my heart loves?’
Scarcely had I passed them than I found Him, whom my heart loves.
Song of Songs 3:1, 3-4a