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Loving companion and dedicated teacher


Paula Novak - Born: October 16 1946 | Died: June 4 2020

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Paula was the first child of Bobbie and Jack. Her brother Ricky left for America at a young age, married, had a daughter and then sadly died some years later in the United States.

Growing up in Glenelg, Paula and her cousin Craig, who was like a brother, attended St Mary’s Memorial School and were part of a little gang that included Anne Lyons (nee Barry), Ann Burr and others. Paula finished her schooling at Cabra with some of her childhood friends from Glenelg.

In January 1964 Paula was one of five young women who left Adelaide by train to begin their training as Dominican Sisters in Sydney. She took her vows with Pat Kennedy, Maureen O’Connell, Johanna Cash and Margaret Sheedy in 1966.

Sr Maureen recalls “sneaking off” with Paula and Pat Murphy to the Davis Cup in Adelaide without telling anyone where they were going. On the back page of The News that night was a large photo of the three women huddled under one umbrella with a rug over their knees, sheltering from the rain. Maureen’s parents saw the photo, but fortunately the Dominican Sisters didn’t get the evening newspaper.

Paula left the order in the mid-nineties and pursued a career in teaching. Her dedicated years of service in Catholic education included appointments to St Bernadette’s, Cabra, Rosary School in Canberra, and Star of the Sea at Semaphore where she was principal.

This was followed by a study year in Dundalk, Ireland, before returning to Our Lady of Grace, Glengowrie, as a teacher of junior primary classes. Paula was meticulous with her class preparation and the time given each day far exceeded the normal eight hours.

She created beautiful St Dominic’s Day Eucharistic celebrations and was heavily involved in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Our Lady of Grace School and parish in 2004.

She worked in child care for a period and in Catholic adult education services with Fr Michael Trainor. After retiring from teaching, she went back to Glenelg as a parish worker and RCIA teacher and coordinator.

Former teaching colleagues paid tribute to Paula, saying she was “loved, admired, respected, valued and now deeply missed by all who knew her”.

“Paula was our loyal colleague, a clear-thinking truth teller and a woman who embodied the integrity, fidelity, dedication and commitment that Catholic educators seek to understand and to live,” they wrote.

Dominican community friends said: “Once a Dominican, always a Dominican…for over 30 years, Paula was such a warm, vital, fun-loving friend and member of our Dominican Sisters community.”

Paula loved meeting her friends and family for meals and coffee where lots of laughs were shared, along with news and loving companionship. Having breakfast at Westfield Marion with Sr Ann Burr OP and Kathy Horan was a Saturday ritual that lasted many years.

In the words of her close friend Sue Gillard, who together with Craig and his family supported her with love and compassion, “spread your wings and soar Paula – you will be forever in our hearts”.


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