Mary was the first of three children born to Ethel Mary, nee Miller, and Patrick Howard in Whyalla.
For as long as she could remember, family prayer and participation in Church and parish life were an integral part of her family life. Mary grew up in a happy and loving family and often spoke of childhood adventures with her two brothers, Peter and Des.
Mary’s contact with the Sisters of the Good Samaritan began in early childhood and continued throughout her schooling at St Teresa’s, Whyalla. After completing her Intermediate studies, Mary left home to take up a position of governess in rural communities west of Whyalla, with the Bascombe family in Streaky Bay and then the Du Bois family in Wudinna. Her deep love of and delight in children was nurtured during these years. She was much loved by parents and children who have shared fond memories of her joyful disposition.
During these years Mary was an active member of the local community including the Wudinna Marching Team. She was the bookkeeper for a local business, a skill she continued to develop and practise when the opportunity arose.
In February 1962, Mary entered the Good Samaritan novitiate in Pennant Hills, Sydney, and was named Sr Eugene Mary. The other young women who entered with her recall her sense of humour and cheery disposition, and her love of telling stories.
Following her first profession in January 1965, Sr Mary undertook studies at St Scholastica’s Teachers’ College, Sydney. She then taught kindergarten classes at St Pius X, Unanderra, Wollongong, and St Bernadette’s at Dundas, Sydney.
Sr Mary returned to SA in 1973, teaching infants at St Brigid’s, Evanston, until the end of 1977. In 1978 she took on the role of Religious Education coordinator for the Gawler and Hamley Bridge parishes, continuing the work of the Sisters of St Joseph’s Motor Mission. In 1979, she spent a year caring for the children at Sacred Heart Orphanage, Crystal Brook.
Sr Mary then moved to Port Pirie, teaching at St Mark’s Primary School from 1980-82. It has been said that she educated by ‘listening with the ear of the heart’ to the children in her care. In 1983 she ministered in Melbourne and then spent 10 years at St Mary’s School in Moruya, NSW.
Returning to Port Pirie in 1995, Sr Mary worked in St Mark’s parish and for the next 25 years she was a much-loved member of the Port Pirie community. She dedicated herself to a range of parish activities including baptism preparation, children’s sacramental initiation programs, spiritual support of the Monday prayer group, the Catholic Women’s League and the St Vincent de Paul Society.
With pastoral sensitivity Sr Mary supported the sick and frail elderly in their homes and was enriched by her association with other pastoral associates in the Diocese.
In October 2020 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and in late January scans revealed a brain tumour. She died peacefully at Southern Cross Care, North Plympton.
Sr Mary is remembered for her faithfulness, joyfulness, light-hearted humour and love of storytelling. She treasured the relationships she had made with many people throughout her life.Jump to next article