by CATHIE BELL
The Sisters of Mercy have called time on 135 years in Marlborough, with an official farewell held in December.
The last two Mercy nuns based in Marlborough, Sister Elizabeth Mary and Sister Suzanna, left in early 2020, but they returned in December with nine other nuns, who had connections with the district, to say farewell officially.
The Sisters of Mercy set up a convent and a school in Blenheim in 1885, and also had a convent in Picton for 60 years, and they started a school there in 1914.
Congregation leader Sister Sue France, RSM, said the women of the parish in the 19th century had convinced the nuns to come here.
“They received a warm welcome, and generations of support.”
She said that, after such a long presence in Marlborough, it was important to come back for a farewell.
“The charism of mercy is alive and well in this place.”
Mary Hickman spoke on behalf of parishioners, saying that the Sisters of Mercy were special women, and were missed in many ways.
She had many in the congregation laughing about stories of various nuns and their exploits – or the exploits of pupils who had tried to outwit them – and aspects of parish and family life many had shared with people in the community.
Acting parish priest Father Pat McIndoe, CP, said that the sisters gave so much to the parish.
“They not only taught children reading, writing and arithmetic, but taught them many fine arts, drama, and music as well.
“They were pioneers in education here in Marlborough, not just in Catholic education, but in education itself.”
After Vatican II, the sisters took on more responsibilities in the parish as well, he said.
“Your works of education and faith are a shining example to us in Marlborough. Your spirit lives on among us, and we’re so grateful for that. So sisters, thank you, thank you, thank you.”