Margaret Mary Murphy was born in Streaky Bay, the second child of John and Elsie Murphy. Kevin, her older brother, died in 1973 and Margaret greatly mourned his loss.
She spoke of a very happy childhood and her parents taught her and Kevin to be strong, independent, and resilient. She loved the rural life and all that the West Coast offered. Margaret stayed connected with friends, family and the community who lived there. It was said at her funeral Mass that ‘it was almost as though she carried the soil from the West Coast in her pockets’. She did, in fact, have a piece of granite from the farm and she had asked that it be buried with her.
Margaret completed her secondary education as a boarder at St Aloysius College, Adelaide. She returned home and worked with her father on the farm at Streaky Bay, showing his Clydesdale champions, travelling as far as the Royal Sydney Show. She earned her own prizes too as a brilliant horsewoman. She took an interest in following the career of another local from Streaky Bay, the champion jockey, Kerrin McEvoy. She was extremely proud of him.
In her 25th year Margaret entered the Sisters of St Joseph at Kensington. She was professed in Sydney as Sr Margaret Mary of the Sacred Heart on January 6 1958. She did her teacher training at North Sydney and then returned to South Australia.
Most of Margaret Mary’s ministry was as teacher and principal and she ministered in both metropolitan and country primary schools including Beulah Road, Mornington, Port Lincoln, Berri, Thebarton, Clare, Renmark and Woodville Park. She spent one year on the Motor Mission, residing at Hectorville. As much as was possible, she stayed connected with staff, parents and students. One of Margaret Mary’s past students from Clare was the international best-selling author Monica McInerney. Monica credits Margaret Mary with ‘kick starting’ her writing career.
When Margaret Mary retired from formal education as principal in 1984, she worked as a volunteer for many years at Mount Carmel College, helping students who required extra tuition. In 1995 she began pastoral ministry as a volunteer at Flora McDonald Lodge and supported staff and residents in any way she could. She genuinely cared for all, not intruding, but always alert to the needs of others.
Margaret Mary treasured the friendships she made throughout her life and was a loyal friend to many. She was humble, down-to-earth and had a great sense of humour. She was a woman of Earth and loved her garden tending her plants with great care. She particularly loved her rose bush called ‘Tinkerbell’ quite a small unpretentious rose, which flowered regularly.
Three years ago when she was admitted as a resident at Calvary Flora McDonald, Margaret Mary continued her pastoral ministry, rode her ‘horse’ as she called it, (a motorised scooter), around the facility, visited other residents and continued her relationships with staff and volunteers.
She lived into her title Sr Margaret Mary of the Sacred Heart and was generous in her kindliness to others. She was very grounded in the Josephite mission and charism, living Gospel values in the ordinary everyday events which emerged.
Her health deteriorated significantly in the last 12 months, but she never complained. She slipped quietly and peacefully into eternal life, where her longing for union with Jesus found its fulfilment.Jump to next article