Sisters of St Joseph of Lochinvar

Sr Anne Cavanagh

Sr Anne Cavanagh IMAGE

Died 02 April 2017

It was on 12th July 1916, as World War I was raging, that Anne Imelda Cavanagh was born at Wauchope, to the pioneering couple Patrick Cavanagh and Margaret O’Brien.  Anne was the third of their twelve children and when she was four the family moved from the security of Cavanagh territory on Rawdon Island to the largely untouched, forested beauty of the Comboyne Plateau. 

There, despite inevitable hardships, the Cavanagh children spent what Anne described in her family history as a ‘carefree and wondrous’ childhood, until the family moved down the mountain to Byabarra, mainly to further the children’s education.

In this staunchly Catholic family - able to attend Mass only three times a year - Anne imbibed a deep and unshakable faith, strength of character, and the freedom of spirit and self-reliance that characterised her long life.      

After boarding with our Sisters at Port Macquarie for her secondary schooling, Anne came here to Lochinvar and entered the novitiate on 28th December 1933 - at a time when society was beginning to recover from the Great Depression.  She was professed on 1st July 1936 as Sr Mary Fintan of the Child Jesus.  

For the next 40 years she taught in our schools from one end of the diocese to the other – Infants, Primary and Secondary classes – and for nearly 20 of those years she served as a Primary School Principal.  While her pupils recall that she could be very strict, they also remember with gratitude the creative and interesting education she gave them - without the resources available nowadays in our schools.

In 1972 Anne was awarded a Certificate of Competency as a Librarian and was elected to Membership of the Library Association of Australia.   In 1978 she had a year of formation and study in Melbourne at the Yarra Theological College.   Anne had a great love of learning, and in another era she may well have become a very successful academic.  She would have loved to continue her studies in Theology and Scripture, but came home to Lochinvar, as our centenary year was approaching, to take up the much-needed role of Congregational Archivist.  

She also took a keen interest in diocesan history and for years would travel one day a week to Hamilton to work as a volunteer in the diocesan archives. 

Anne held very strong views on many subjects, not least politics and the changes in the Church.  She was self-effacing, even self-deprecating in many ways, never wanting a fuss, happy to be in the background, hard-working whenever and wherever help was needed, thoughtful and kind especially to the sick and needy, and generous in sharing her many gifts. 

When finally she had to leave Lochinvar and move into care at Calvary St Joseph’s, she did so with the peaceful resignation that characterised her acceptance of so many other difficult things in her life.  

At the age of 100 years, Anne died peacefully in her sleep on Sunday 2 April 2017.  She is buried in the Sisters’ cemetery at Lochinvar.

Words of Remembrance by Sr Patricia Egan