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Patricia Fitzgerald

List of deceased Sisters

Date of death 19/01/2014

Sister Mary Patricia Fitzgerald was born on 15th August 1920 at Lewisham, Sydney, Australia to William Joseph and Tempest Dora Fitzgerald who already had a son and two daughters. Later, two more boys were born who are the only ones now living.

The Fitzgeralds were a staunchly Catholic family. William had two sisters with the Gunnedah Sisters of Mercy and many other religious among his extended family. In July 1939, Patricia travelled to New Zealand where she made her novitiate and was professed on August 15th 1942.

After profession, in early 1943, Patricia was assigned to Fiji and went to Makogai for a few weeks. Following this short period, she was sent to Natovi on Viti Levu to teach classes of 7 and 8 year olds. The following year, Patricia was missioned to Nabala on Vanua Levu which was very isolated. In 1948 her next appointments were at Sigatoka English School and Naililili village school in 1949. Due to ill health, Patricia returned to New Zealand and after her recovery, she did teacher training at Lorreto Hall between 1951 and1953. She returned to Fiji on completion of her studies.

In May 1954 Patricia went to Stella Maris in Suva and also was the secretary to the SMSM regional. 1957 saw Patricia as the principal of the Fiji-Chinese School. Several of her Chinese students kept in touch with her all through the years and attended her funeral. Among these ex-students was Victor Giborees who flew from New Zealand. Patricia was one of the founding body to set up Corpus Christi Teacher Training Centre where she left an indelible mark on all who had contact with her. Sadly, poor health was a constant companion and in 1969, Patricia retired from Corpus Christi College. Patricia took up a new role as teacher and mentor at Cawaci from 1970 to 1972 for the SOLN novices preparing to attend St John’s College for their secondary education. During all these years, Patricia’s health was deteriorating so at the end of 1972 she left Fiji to return to Australia.

Patricia lived a very contemplative life at Marist Villa, which is now Lourdes Lodge. Her annual retreat and regular spiritual direction were at the heart of her life as was her daily Mass attendance when possible, spiritual reading and prayer. She took great delight in her family who were very supportive and generous in regard to their beloved aunt and grand-aunt.

Not long before Christmas, Patricia’s health deteriorated and the last phone call she made was on Christmas day although she was able to receive the many phone calls that came in for her up until two days before her death. Many times she expressed her desire to leave this life and be with her Beloved and could not understand why He was making her wait. No one, including Patricia herself, thought she would live into her 90s. For almost sixty years she had been waiting for her final call, having ‘tasted the sweetness of the Lord’ many times before.

With Patricia’s death came a very significant milestone in SMSM life. On the 8th December 1944 our sisters moved to the property in Killara where they prepared for the opening of the T.B. hospital in 1946. Patricia’s death is the end of an SMSM era at this property in Killara.

Margaret Tisch smsm