Marie was born to Rose and Cyril Foale at Pinnaroo, the eldest of 10 children. The family had a farm at Parilla in the South Australian Mallee and Marie remained at heart a Mallee girl.
Marie’s parents cultivated her two greatest gifts – her deep faith and her thirst for knowledge. Marie was devoted to her patron saint,
St Therese of Lisieux, and she knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a Josephite and serve God.
Her faithful service saw her ministering to children in many schools. Immediately after her novitiate and religious profession in Sydney, she spent three years teaching in Victoria. These were followed by 16 years in country South Australia and
10 years in schools in Adelaide, including Croydon, Hindmarsh, Dulwich, Macclesfield, Kadina, Peterborough, Wallaroo, Tailem Bend, Jamestown, Kensington, Hectorville and Siena College. At different times throughout these years she taught all grades from Reception through to Year 12.
The opportunity to study fed her thirst for knowledge. She had a talent for absorbing and remembering information and a very inquisitive mind. She was in fact such an outstanding scholar that she was awarded a doctorate when submitting her master’s thesis.
Through her study she acquired the position of Diocesan archivist where she became known for her generosity with her time in assisting people to find information about families and parishes. She held this position for 15 years and later became the archivist for the South Australian Province of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.
Throughout this time Marie was invited into most States of Australia and also to New Zealand as someone who had a thorough knowledge and understanding of local Church history and the life of St Mary MacKillop. She excelled in these areas and found it life-giving to be able to share her knowledge.
Marie’s storytelling ability brought Mary MacKillop and other characters from Church history ‘alive’. She has written a number of publications, including The Josephite Story, Providence and Never See a Need. Her legacy will live on in the written word.
Marie was in her 95th year of age and the 77th year of her religious life when she took her final breath at Calvary Flora McDonald.
With her death we have lost an encyclopedia of knowledge and a library of memories. Marie will forever be remembered for her humble dedication, her simplicity, her quiet wisdom and her unconditional love. She demonstrated to all who knew her what it means to be: ‘Faithful in service; Humble in wisdom; Strong in love’.
– Sr Maryellen Thomas rsj