Sisters of St Joseph of Lochinvar

Sr Mary Damian Harrison

Sr M Damian Harrison IMAGE

Died 01 March 2019

Sr Mary Damian was born Margaret Joan Harrison on 29 March 1926, the fourth child of William John Harrison and Margaret Lowrie.  Her family consisted of Alex, Jack, Dorothy, Allan and Maree.  Damian was born and bred in Carrington and grew up during the depression, learning from her parents how to care generously for others. It was her great joy to return, towards the end of her life to live among her own people.

On leaving school Joan entered the Novitiate at Lochinvar in 1942, at the age of sixteen and was given the name of Sr Mary Damian.  She was professed as a Sister of S Joseph on 7 July 1944.

For the next forty-three years, Sr Damian’s ministry was in the school, teaching Infants and Primary classes and as principal in many places in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, as well as in the Lismore Diocese at Port Macquarie and in the Sydney Archdiocese for ten years at Clifton Gardens and Summer Hill.  Her out-going nature won her many friends in the school communities and parishes where she lived and worked.

Sr Damian’s ministry went in a new direction in 1990 when she became the Coordinator of the Redemptorist Retreat Centre at the Mayfield Monastery. She followed this with the appointment to the Tenison Woods Education Centre at Lochinvar as the original coordinator of its residential service.  In both places her friendliness and home-making skills were evident and much appreciated.

A highlight of Sr Damian’s life was her participation a renewal program at the Redemptorist Monastery and Retreat Centre in Perth in Scotland.

Sr Damian retired from active ministry in 2002 and returned to her beloved Carrington.  There she lived out her calling to be a presence in the community, visiting the elderly and shut-ins, taking Holy Communion to those unable to attend Mass, lending a listening ear  and offering a comforting word to those in need. She continued to do this on moving to Morisset and Fennel Bay before making her home in St Martin de Porres aged care facility in Waratah. 

Sr Mary Damian died peacefully on 1st March at St Martin de Porres after almost ninety-three years of living, seventy-five years of which were as a Sister of St Joseph. Her funeral Mass was celebrated on 8th March in St Patrick’s Church Lochinvar as St Joseph’s chapel was unavailable due to a recent fire there.  Father Paul O’Neill who presided at the Mass was joined by Father Maurie Cahill.  Sister was then laid to rest in the Sisters’ section of the Lochinvar cemetery.

Taken from the Words of Remembrance given by Brigid Linehan rsj