The words ‘I have no claims to great deeds; just small ones with love’, appearing on the cover of the Mass booklet, summed up the life of Sr Ann Gallagher whose Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on October 15, 2023 in St Patrick’s Church, Swansea. Ann may not have done great deeds but she did the ordinary everyday tasks of life and ministry with great care, love and commitment.
Ann, the third child of Joseph Leo Gallagher and Elsie Agnes Bourke was born in Gloucester on 9 July 1933. Her siblings, Leo, Mary, Patrick, Michael and Helen grew up on a farm, first in Gloucester and then in Krambach before moving to Enfield in Sydney because of her father’s poor health resulting from injuries suffered in the First World War.
At the end of Primary School at Joseph’s Enfield, Ann won a bursary to the Boarding school in Lochinvar, where she completed her secondary education. With eight of her classmates, she entered the Novitiate on 16 June 1950 and was given the name, Sr Mary Helena.
After her profession as a Sister of St Joseph, Ann embarked on her life of service firstly as a teacher in many parish schools in the diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and as a member of the motor mission, teaching State School children around the Gresford area. Later, Ann’s ministry changed to pastoral work in parishes, the last being in Wauchope where she served for thirteen years and was much loved and respected for her kind and compassionate ways.
Father Gerard Mackie, parish priest of East Lake Macquarie who knew Ann well presided at the Mass where a number of Ann’s nieces and nephews joined with her Sisters in praying for her eternal rest. Also present to pay their respects were representatives from the Wauchope parish.
The Scripture readings carefully chosen, expressed something of Ann’s life motivation. The first reading from Philippians 3: 8, 10-12 said, Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. The gospel from John 14:23, 25-27 said Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Sr Brigid Linehan in delivering the Words of Remembrance spoke of Ann’s love of family and poetry. She loved life and continued to be interested in the people with whom she lived, firstly at Southern Cross Tenison Apartments, Swansea and finally at Mawson Court, Caves Beach where she died peacefully on 10 October 2023.
At the conclusion of the Mass, the cortege moved to Lochinvar to the Sisters’ section in the parish cemetery for burial. There Sr Ann Gallagher was laid to rest with all the Sisters who have gone before her into eternal life, including her many relations from the Gallagher and Moy families. RIP