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Gracious, attentive and understanding


Sr Shirley Mary Preston RSJ - Born: January 17 1925 | Died: August 14 2021

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Shirley Mary Preston was born in Victoria in 1925, beloved daughter of Harold Preston and Hannah (Sullivan).

Mary was one of four children: Harold who died as a young child; Francis who sadly lost his life flying a Lancaster bomber over the Zeider Zee in 1945, and Kenneth, who joined the Marist Brothers and who, like Mary, died at Calvary Flora McDonald Retirement Community.

The Preston family moved to a home on the Henley Beach Esplanade. Mary was a member of the Henley Beach parish and attended Star of the Sea School.

She later trained as a stenographer and worked in the Adelaide law courts for several years. Here Mary cultivated her meticulous attention to detail. She excelled in this work as in everything she did.

Mary entered the Sisters of St Joseph at Kensington SA in 1950 and then travelled to Sydney for her novitiate and teacher training. She was professed as Sr Mary Alphonsus in 1954 and took her final vows in the Mount St chapel in 1960.

After completing her teacher training in North Sydney, Mary taught in schools in SA for 22 years, including Port Augusta, St Peters, Dulwich, Beulah Rd, Woodville Park, Nangwarry and across the border in Wentworth.

Mary was a competent and much-loved teacher, principal and community member. Her pupils and their families experienced her compassion and pastoral care especially in times of sadness and challenge.

Younger Sisters who were new to teaching experienced her practical support and guidance.

Mary undertook studies in special education, accounting, and administration which served her well in her many tasks.

In 1978 Mary began her many years of working in the Province Office at Kensington as bursar where she was diligent in her stewardship in managing finance and administration.

Mary worked on the restoration of Josephite graves in various cemeteries and kept property records. She was adept at record keeping, filing, and organising. No issue or task was too big to solve. Mary made people feel that it was a delight to help them.

Mary was always gracious, attentive, and understanding, and always a friendly face. She will be remembered as a kind woman who always made sure that what was needed was easily and readily available to support the Josephite ministries.

She was very warm, hospitable and welcoming, and loved to join in social activities and fun.

In 2004 Mary retired and lived in Norwood until she transferred to Tappeiner Court in 2013 and then moved to Flora McDonald in 2016.

As her health deteriorated over the past years Mary managed to keep her beautiful smile. She was not one to complain and accepted her condition with patience.

Mary was a woman of faith and lived her Josephite life in the spirit of Mary MacKillop.

May Mary enjoy eternal life with God and the community of saints in heaven. She will live on in our hearts. May her gentle soul rest in peace in the fullness of God’s presence.


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