Sr Margaret Woodward
Died 04 April 2019
Margaret was the second of four daughters born in Merewether to Tracey and Gwenllian Woodward on 14 August 1938. Her sisters were Evelyn, Dorothy and Judith. After completing her schooling at St Joseph’s Merewether she entered the Novitiate at Lochinvar following in the footsteps of her elder sister, Evelyn. She was given the name of Sister Mary Gerard and was professed as a Sister of St Joseph in 1962.
As Sr Mary Gerard she began her teaching ministry as a Secondary School teacher in Taree for six years and in Lochinvar for three years before beginning her tertiary study first in Armidale at New England University and then in Melbourne at Monash University and at the National Pastoral Institute (NPI). On her return to Newcastle, Margaret lived at Merewether Beach while working at the diocesan Catholic Schools Office as the Secondary Schools’ Religious Education Coordinator. In 1979, she extended her knowledge in this field when she studied at the Boston College in USA.
From that time on Margaret, as she became known after the Vatican 11 renewal of religious life, made her home in Melbourne. She became a lecturer in education, especially the education of adults at NPI and also at Monash University. One colleague from her Melbourne ministry days wrote after her death: Margaret was a stunning, great educator, a believer in the equality but also the difference of each person, respectful of individuals, but personally a creator as well as an intellectual (a rare combination). Adult students recognized and valued her enormously.
Under the umbrella of the Monash University, Margaret became very active in the Monash/Asia Foundation, fostering and promoting community values between Asian cultures and our own. During these years she organised a number of student tours of China, long before others ventured there. Her stories of those visits reveal the perseverance, forward thinking and sense of humour she must have had to bring those ventures to a satisfactory ending.
Margaret returned to Newcastle, her home town when her health declined in December 2018. Her time back home proved to be short as she died peacefully and suddenly at Southern Cross Apartments in Caves Beach on 4th April. She was in her 81st year of age and the 57th year of her religious profession.
Father William Burston presided at the Mass of Christian Burial at St Joseph’s Church, The Junction on 12 April 2019. After Mass the cortege moved to Lochinvar where Sr Margaret Woodward was laid to rest in the Sisters’ section of the parish cemetery.
Taken from Words of Remembrance given by Evelyn Woodward rsj