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A Fitting Farewell

On a late autumn morning, relatives, friends and Sisters of St Joseph gathered in the chapel at Lochinvar to celebrate the Eucharist and give thanks for the life of Sr Pauline Burgess whose long life ended on 10 May 2023.

Pauline Clarice was born in Merewether on 13 January 1930, the youngest child of Claude and Margaret Burgess (nee Coulson).  Pauline had three sisters, Joan, Moira and Norma.  They lived in Union Street, The Junction, close to St Joseph’s School.

Tragedy came into Pauline’s young life when her mother died in February 1940 aged just forty-five when Pauline was in Third Class at St Joseph’s Merewether.   At her mother’s request, Pauline went to board at St Joseph’s Lochinvar until 1943 when her sister Moira and her husband made a home with them in Hamilton.  She continued her schooling with the Sisters of Mercy at St Aloysius Girls High School, completing the Intermediate Certificate.

Pauline entered the Novitiate at Lochinvar on 1st January 1946 at the tender age of sixteen.   She was given the name of Sr Mary Audrey of Our Lady of Sorrows. She was professed as a Sister of St Joseph on 30th June 1948.

With her Novitiate, her educational and teacher training completed, Sr Pauline began her ministry of teaching which was extensive. She ministered in city and country parishes in the Maitland-Newcastle and Lismore dioceses and the Archdiocese of Sydney. It was in Summer Hill in the late 1960’s where Sr Pauline experienced a multicultural school as 92% of the students came from migrant families.

In 1977 after non-stop teaching appointments, Pauline took advantage of an exchange program within the Federation of Sisters of St Joseph and spent a year teaching in Hastings in New Zealand with the Whanganui Sisters. Pauline described it as a wonderful and memorable year where she made life-long friends. She loved the New Zealand landscape and its Maori culture.

Sr Pauline was a kind, hospitable and thoughtful person always ready to assist anyone in need. She had many skills in cooking, sewing and craft work.  She was an artist with flowers and cards, had a great sense of humour and enjoyed a good joke. Above all, Sr Pauline was a woman of prayer who lived out her vocation

Over the last few years, she endured much ill health.  Finally, after a number of falls Sr Pauline agreed to go into care at Calvary Retirement Community in Cessnock last December.  It was there that Sr Pauline Burgess slipped peacefully into eternal life last week after a long life of service.

Father Maurie Cahill presided at the Mass of Christian Burial on 18 May. At its conclusion, the funeral cortege moved through a guard of honour formed by students from the College to the Lochinvar parish cemetery where Sr Pauline Burgess was laid to rest among her Sisters awaiting the Resurrection.