Marilyn Georgina was the eldest of six children of Kenneth and Mary Knolder.
Her father’s health was poor because of injuries received while serving in World War II. Money was hard to come by but all the children were sent to Catholic schools. The faith was very important to the family: the rosary was said each evening; the home was consecrated to the Sacred Heart; grace was said at meals; weekly confession was the norm and there were little altars in the home to honour the Sacred Heart and Our Lady. From her earliest childhood, Marilyn went to Mass each day, often riding her bike for two miles or catching the bus.
During her early school years Marilyn was taught by the Josephite and Dominican Sisters. When she was nine she met the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. She said that all of these Sisters inspired her and enriched her faith. At this time she joined the League of the Blessed Sacrament, and was a promoter of the ‘annals’ and the ‘apostleship of prayer’. It was at this young age that Marilyn also became aware of her desire to be a religious sister. When she was only 12 she began reading books on religious life that her mother had bought for her.
Marilyn relished her secondary school days at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Enfield, where she excelled at her studies and Irish dancing. She also belonged to the Marian Girls’ Club.
At the age of 15 she left school as she needed to help with the family finances. She worked for the public service as a clerk in the city (and made daily visits to St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral). But she never wavered from her first desire and on March 15 1962, at the age of 17 and with the full blessing of her parents, Marilyn entered the OLSH novitiate at Hartzer Park, Burradoo.
Marilyn made her first profession of vows in 1965 and went to Kensington where she began her new life of teaching and study; first she gained her Leaving Certificate at OLSH College and then studied to be a teacher both in Sydney and in Melbourne. Creative and artistic, she became a brilliant teacher who gave her students a love for learning. She took a personal interest in each one and kept in contact with many of them over the years.
Education was Marilyn’s passion for the rest of her life she taught in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Bowral while also undertaking further studies.
In 1996 Marilyn suffered a life-changing illness and as a result her ministry changed direction from secondary education to adult education and formation with the Associates of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. She began this ministry at Mascot but soon moved to Kensington where she lived until deteriorating health forced her to move to St Joseph’s Aged Care home in 2016.
The Associates greatly appreciated the talks she gave at their meetings and the inspiring articles she wrote for their newsletter. She also loved to compose poetry, much of which has been compiled in a book.
In 2007 Marilyn completed a Diploma of Ageing and Pastoral Care which she decided to do because of her work on the parish communion round at St Joseph’s. She gave joy to the residents by using her artistic skills in decorating the dining room and chapel for feast days and other special occasions.
Even after she became a resident at St Joseph’s she continued to use her talents to make scrap books for patients at the Children’s Hospital. She made beautiful crocheted rugs, looked after her flower garden and kept up with friends by email.
Marilyn loved beautiful things – God’s wondrous creation, the many and varied works of human hands, poetry, flowers, birds and animals, especially cats.
Marilyn was kind and thoughtful and she noticed when others were suffering or worried or needed something to make life a little less stressful. She was always grateful for the help that others gave her and she was uncomplaining and brave in dealing with her poor health.
She is now with God whom she loved so deeply and is rejoicing in the wonder of God’s eternal embrace.