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Quiet determination and strength


Sr Marlene Henningsen rsj - Born: August 18 1942 | Died: November 25 2021

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Marlene Ann Therese Henningsen was born in Adelaide, loving and loved daughter of Harold and Agnes (McGee), sister of Lorraine, Elizabeth and Michael.

Marlene was baptised in St Ignatius Church Norwood and her strong faith was nurtured in a loving and faith-filled family. Marlene entered the Sisters of St Joseph on February 2 1959 at Kensington Convent. She was professed as Sister Agnes in 1962.

Her family was always involved with parish life and was a friend of the Sisters of St Joseph. Harold Henningsen worked on the maintenance and gardens at Mary MacKillop College for many years and was a familiar sight around Norwood and Kensington. The students were very fond of him. They always waved to him on their way to and from school and he would return their greeting by raising his cap. Like her father Marlene was a quiet achiever and made the world a better place by who she was and the way she lived her life.

Marlene trained as a teacher at the Catholic Teacher’s College in North Sydney. When she returned to Adelaide she began her teaching life as a junior primary school teacher. She excelled in this role and was loved by her students. She had a special gift for working with young children.  Her teaching years were spent in Yorketown, Penola, Clare, Nangwarry, Mansfield Park, Rosewater, Thebarton and Richmond.

In 2006 Marlene began a ministry in pastoral care with her Josephite Sisters and residents at Flora McDonald Nursing Home. Many years of beautiful pastoral care were given by Marlene as she accompanied residents through illness on the final part of their life’s journey. She was always there for residents’ families in their grief and loss and was a comforting presence and support. Marlene worked in a gentle, quiet way which endeared her to many. She had a quiet determination and strength and always wanted things to be done well. She had a great sense of humour and enjoyed fun times.

In her eulogy her niece said, “at the end of one’s life – when you die there remains only one question which is how much love did you give. When it came to Aunty Marlene, and all who knew her, they know she gave mountains of love.”

Her life was simply about love and the compassion she showed across her lifetime to immediate and extended family, her Josephite family and to the community of children she taught over the years.  She served others inclusively and without judgement. Undoubtedly many of Sr Marlene’s students took refuge in her compassion and remain touched today by her unconditional love and guidance.’

Marlene was a woman of faith who was committed to Josephite life.

When she became unwell in 2017, she moved to the Kensington community. Her health further deteriorated, and she moved into Calvary Flora McDonald Nursing Home where she was welcomed and loved. Marlene died peacefully in the place in which she dedicated many years of loving pastoral care.

As she was taken from Calvary Flora, a guard of honour was formed by many staff and residents. This gesture befitted the high regard with which she was held and is indicative of the way that she always treated others. Many a tear was shed by staff who had known and worked with her.

May Marlene rest in peace with her Loving God whom she loved and served with all her heart.


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