Saturday, 8 December 2012

Mother Mary Morgan

My paternal great grandmother's name was Mary Agnes Morgan.  

Her brother, Alexander Morgan and his wife Lavinia nee Stuart, also named their second daughter  Mary Agnes.

This Mary Agnes Morgan was born in New Zealand on the 19th of April 1898 and I was told by grandchildren of her sister that Mary joined the Roman Catholic order of the Society of the Sacred Heart.  They spoke of her with very high regard and told me how she became Bursar of the Baradene College in Auckland.

I knew Mary wasn't buried with her parents and infant sister at St. Joseph's cemetery, Pauatahanui but I had no idea where to look.  I put a query to the Facebook New Zealand history and genealogy group
asking "When a Catholic nun died would her death be recorded under her birth name?"  I was given not only her burial information but also a link for New Zealand Archives of the Society of the Sacred Heart

I sent an email to the archivist Sister Dorothea Hewlett who was so very helpful.  
I received much  much more than I had dared hope for.  

Sister Dorothea's reply and the items she sent me follow:
Dear Kerryn,

The document I'm sending you is the eulogy that was read at Mother Morgan's
funeral. The photograph in which she is wearing the habit is probably from
the 1960's; the other is marked 1970's, and shows her great love of animals.

By a strange coincidence, I have just received an account of the adventures
of the Sisters of St Joseph of Orange, California, who escaped from the
Solomons in early 1943 and spent a week here at Baradene, though at that
time it was simply known as Remuera. The account includes a lovely reference
to Mother Morgan's great kindness, which I have added to the other document.
I hope you find these details helpful in your research.

Wishing you every success in it, and blessings for Christmas and the New

Dorothea Hewlett rscj.

Sisters of St Joseph of California

January 14, 1943

            “The four Sisters of Saint Joseph were the pets of the convent. We were showered with kindness on every side. Mother Morgan was assigned to us as a sort of guardian angel. Whenever we would turn around, there was Mother Morgan to do something for us. We couldn’t suggest a thing, as it was always there before we could ask for it. There were books to read, soap and water, and ironing equipment, in fact, everything . Soon we were all starched and ironed and wearing our regular head-dress.” 

This is the eulogy 

and last but not least the TWO photos!

You can certainly see the twinkling eyes mentioned in her eulogy


  1. Thanks Kerryn... I enjoyed reading about your Mother Mary Morgan very much. Congrats on your sleuthing and how wonderful that your queries provided such a wealth of information which you are now passing onto all of her family :-)...

  2. Kerryn, You have inspired me to contact the archives of The Sisters of St Joseph here in Australia to see if tbey can tell me more about a great great aunt.

  3. Thanks for sharing such wonderful info, and your family history, Kerryn. Am pleased to pass onto you the "Blog of the Year 2012 Award", which Pauleen gifted to me. For more info just go to: Cheerio for now... Catherine.

  4. You can see the humour in her face!! Lovely and I love the bit about her care for the homesick children at school too.

    I had lots of help from the Sisters of St Joseph in Adelaide who sent me the obituary for my 2x great Aunt Sister Mary Carolus (Anna Augusta Elisabeth Buring). They also found a photo of her which they sent to me too. Their record keeping is very good.