Sisters of St Joseph of Lochinvar

Sr Mary Bell


Died 30 December 2022

Sr Mary Bell was one of thirteen children born to Michael Bell and Mary Ellen Waxand on 23 August 1932 in Taree.

After completing her schooling in Taree, Mary entered the Novitiate at Lochinvar on 1 January 1949, and was given the name of Sr M Martina.  On 4 July 1951, she was professed as a Sister of St Joseph.  Mary then began her teaching ministry as an Infants teacher. She taught in a number of parish schools including The Junction, Aberdeen, Lochinvar, Wauchope and St Paul’s Gateshead. She loved the children and took a keen interest in their progress.

In the 1970’s, the Australian New Zealand Federation of the Sisters of St Joseph set up two missionary outreaches in Papua New Guinea. Mary felt the call to volunteer as a missionary in the diocese of Vanimo where she worked with a community of Sisters from the Goulburn Josephite congregation and the Passionist missionaries.

Riding a Honda 90 motor bike, Mary visited the scattered villages.  She worked in the clinic where mothers brought their babies and the sick came to have their ulcers dressed and receive malaria tablets.  In addition, she worked to improve the lives of the local people by running groups for women, educating them in nutrition, sewing and sacramental preparation. She loved the people and was keen for them to be educated so that they could take control of their own lives.

On her return from Papua New Guinea, Mary immersed herself in a wide range of pastoral ministries mainly in the East Lakes parishes in Newcastle. She visited the sick and elderly, encouraged lay participation in the Liturgy and the running of prayer groups and served the needy as a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society.

Her active life came to an abrupt end when with deteriorating health Mary was admitted to Calvary St Joseph’s Home Sandgate where she spent eight years until her death on December 30th 2022.

It was fitting that her funeral Mass was celebrated in the parish church in Charlestown, the last parish in which she ministered. Following the Mass, the cortege moved to Lochinvar where Sr Mary Bell was laid to rest in the Sisters' section of the parish cemetery.

From the Words of Remembrance given by Sr Brigid Linehan rsj