Sr Marguerite Chapman
Died 24 March 2019
Sr Marguerite was born Marie Clare Chapman, the second of four children born to Christopher Chapman and Margaret Caddy in Merewether on 21 December 1922. She had two sisters, Patricia and Kath and one brother, Michael. After completing her primary and high school education at St Joseph’s Merewether (The Junction) Marie entered the Novitiate at Lochinvar 22 April 1942, was given the name Sr Marguerite and was professed as a Sister of St Joseph on 3 January 1945.
After her profession, Sr Marguerite ministered as a teacher of secondary and primary classes and as primary school principal in Taree, Port Macquarie, Shortland, Kurri Kurri, Lochinvar and Merewether. She was elected to the Congregational Leadership Council in 1967, again in 1973 until 1978 and for a third time in 1986. During this time she was also a member of the Council of the Australian-New Zealand Federation of the Sisters of St Joseph.
Her life changed when she went firstly to St Paul’s in Kensington to study scripture, theology and spiritual direction and then to Gonzaga University in Spokane, USA. On her return she worked with the Sisters of Mercy in their retreat centre in Toronto before opening, Anawim, the Josephite House of Prayer in 1981 at Wangi Wangi. In her later years she was engaged in pastoral work in the parishes of Toronto (Kilaben Bay) and Windale until she moved to a quieter life in Swansea and then when she needed more care to Southern Cross Apartments in Caves Beach.
She had a great sense of inner freedom herself and helped free-up many people who came across her path. Marguerite always had a great sense of social justice and was prepared to speak against injustice. She had a deep prayer life and loved her work at Anawim and elsewhere. She was an encourager and an enabler who encouraged individuals to be their best selves.
Sr Marguerite died peacefully and quickly on 24th March in the Southern Cross Apartments at Caves Beach. On the eve of her funeral, a very moving Vigil was held at those apartments to allow those who could not attend the Funeral Mass to feel included in her farewell, praying for her and sharing their memories of her. Father Bob Searle presided at her Funeral Mass in St Patrick’s Church Lochinvar on 28th March. Father Maurice Cahill and Bill Burston were concelebrants.
On leaving the Church the funeral procession moved through a guard of honour formed by students from St Joseph’s College at Lochinvar. Sr Marguerite Chapman was laid to rest in the Sisters’ section of the Lochinvar cemetery, after a long and full life. She was in her ninety-seventh year. May she rest in peace.
Taken from the Words of Remembrance given by Margaret O’Sullivan rsj