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Migrant with a big heart


Estina (Ester) Anna Renaglia - Born: May 29 1937 | Died May 15 2018

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Ester was born in Riese Pio X, Treviso Italy, the youngest of eight children with six brothers and one sister.

At age 20 she got on a ship to travel to Australia, leaving her parents permanently to come live with her brothers in Adelaide. On the ship she met Battista, her husband to be.

During her early years in Adelaide, not able to speak a word of English, Ester worked in a nursing home. During this time she made many friends and learned English through her work and by studying the television.

It was later in 1960 that Ester married Battista and eventually settled down and had three boys – Tony, Wally and David and a daughter, Aida. There were many times that Ester not only had to be a mum but also played the role of dad as Battista worked away a lot. Her sons were always getting into trouble and kept life pretty interesting, but nothing fazed Ester. She developed a great bond with her daughter Aida, and the two relied on each other constantly.

Ester was always the rock of the Renaglias and at family celebrations she was the life of the party. Tony, Wally, David and Aida remember clearly all the birthdays, delightful Easter and Christmas gatherings, and they couldn’t wait for Ester’s barbecue and homemade food.

In 1975 Ester started working at St Francis Xavier Seminary at Rostrevor as a cleaner. However, her work was much more than that and she became a confidant and ‘mum’ to all of the seminarians who were studying to become priests. During this time Ester made good friends with the other members of staff and loved her job very much.

As she was a born and raised Catholic, working in the seminary was a real honour for Ester. She would always talk about meeting the bishops of Adelaide and Port Pirie, a tone of true pride in her voice, and she also spoke fondly of the many priests she met during her time.

Father Kevin Taylor recalled many fond memories of Ester and her care for them when he was in the seminary and she always brought a smile to his face.

He said Ester was devoted to ‘her boys’ at the seminary and loved and showed great care for them. She was a hard worker, nothing was ever too difficult for her and she was always practical in her advice.

Fr Kevin remembered once asking her to teach him how to sew the hem of his pants so that he could do some repairs. She wanted to do the job for him but he insisted on learning how to sew because there would be a time when Ester would not be there and he would have to do the job himself. She was so loving and patient.

Once he got the stitching (not too big, not too tight) she told him that she would teach him how to darn his socks. He said no need, socks are cheap and you just throw them out and buy new ones.

Fr Kevin said he still had the bruise on his arm from where she thumped him!

A new chapter opened up for Ester when she moved into retirement and spent time with her grandchildren. She loved her grandchildren and felt a lot of love and comfort whenever she saw them.

In 2012 Ester became very sick and after spending six weeks in hospital, she moved to Warrina Court Nursing Home, Campbelltown. The first year was the hardest as Ester realised this was her new home, but through some counselling and time, Ester slowly accepted it as her new home. She made many friends with the residents and staff, and many of the carers would describe Ester as a cheeky woman with a kind and loving heart.

Taken from the eulogy from her children, Aida Tony, Wally and David.



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