Farewell to Sister Mary Nora
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Mary Nora Connolly began with the congregation singing "In faith and hope and love, with joyful trust we move towards our Father's home above. How fitting were these words in describing the way Sister Mary Nora lived her long life of ninety years. Relatives, friends and fellow Sisters of St Joseph of Lochinvar gathered in St Joseph's Chapel at Sandgate on 2 October to pray for her eternal repose and to honour her many years of service in our Maitland-Newcastle Diocese and beyond.
Sister Mary Nora was born Nora Margaret in Newcastle in 1928, the youngest child in the family of Peter Connolly and Hannah May Campbell. Though all her siblings, Mary, Luke, Raymond, James, Rita and Peter had predeceased her, a number of nephews and nieces were present in the congregation. At a very young age, Nora entered the Novitiate of the Sisters at Lochinvar in 1944 and received the religious name of Sister Mary John, the name she retained until the renewal of Vatican 11.
After her professions in 1947 she began her ministry, firstly as an Infants and Primary School teacher and principal, then as the State School Catechetics Coordinator in the Newcastle area and then as a Parish Pastoral Assistant. During these years Mary Nora moved around the diocese, living in Taree, Merriwa and Cardiff multiple times. She spent a year on exchange with the Sisters of St Joseph in New Zealand, living and teaching in Levin, was also a member of the Parkside community in Ayr in North Queensland as well as having a renewal year in Melbourne in 1990. With her health declining Sister Mary Nora became a resident in the Martin De Porres Hostel in Waratah in 2006 before moving to St Joseph's Home in Sandgate where she died quietly and peacefully on 25 September.
Father Peter Street presided at the Mass and was joined by Father Tony Brady who as parish priest of Wallsend was a frequent visitor to Sandgate. Sister Mary Nora had chosen the Scripture Readings for the Mass: the first from John's letter which states that we are already the children of God; the second from Philippians that reminds us that our homeland is in heaven and the Gospel from John where Jesus assures us that he is going to prepare a place for us. Sister Mary Nora was well prepared for her journey into eternal life.
After refreshments the funeral procession moved to Lochinvar where Sister Mary Nora's remains were laid to rest in the Sisters' section of the Lochinvar cemetery in the shade of a grand old gum tree.