Sister Mary Anita Conroy
Died 07 June 2019
Sr Mary Anita was born Marjorie Rita in 1926 in Glen Innes to John Conroy and Hilda Condon, the third child in a family of nine: Hilda, Clare, Marjorie, John, Clement, Angela, Peter, Moira and Aileen. As her father had been a Station Master in the railways, the family moved around the state before finally settling in the Newcastle suburb of Merewether.
It was there that the Conroy family came in contact with the Sisters of St Joseph of Lochinvar. Marjorie was a student teacher when she was drawn to the Sisters’ life, entering the Novitiate at Lochinvar in 1944. She was given the name Sr Mary Anita of the Sacred Heart. At the conclusion of her Novitiate, she was professed in 1947 and was appointed to St Joseph’s Secondary School, Merewether. This was to be the beginning of her ministry of interacting with thousands of young people until 2006 as teacher, principal and pastoral care worker.
Sister Anita taught in the secondary School at Summer Hill in the Sydney Archdiocese and St Mary’s Gateshead. During those years, she studied science, graduating in 1964 as a Bachelor of Science from the University of Sydney. Returning to Lochinvar in 1966, she was appointed College principal in 1968 and held that position until 1983.
Her ministry took a different path in 1984 when Sister Anita attended a Christian Spirituality Course at Randwick. On its completion, she was employed by the Catholic Education Office for five years as the coordinator of the St Laurence Counselling and Special Education Centre at Broadmeadow. From there Sister Anita returned to the schools, going to St Clare’s High School in Taree in a pastoral care role from 1991 to 2006.
After such a life of dedicated service Sister Anita moved to congregational accommodation in Denison Street Mayfield for a quieter life and then to the Southern Cross Retirement Community at Caves Beach. It was there that she died peacefully in the early morning of Friday, 7 June, 2019.
Father Paul O’Neill presided at the Mass for Christian Burial on 13 June, 2019 and was joined by a number of concelebrants. Many former students, staff, colleagues and representatives from the Catholic Schools Office came in great numbers as did student leaders from St Clare’s High School in Taree and St Joseph’s College. They were joined by Sister Anita’s three remaining siblings, Josephite Sisters, Clare and Angela and her youngest sister, Aileen Murphy. Clement, John and Peter had predeceased her.
Sr Mary Anita Conroy was laid to rest in the Sisters’ section of the Lochinvar cemetery to await the Resurrection. May she rest in peace.