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Sr M Francis McCarthy - Tasmania

February 13, 2017

In the Mercury Newspaper -

On February 12 1940 at Sacred Heart Convent New Town,
Sister Mary Francis McCarthy, aged 90 years.
Requiescat in pace.


Annie McCarthy was born in Dublin on 12 December 1849.  At the age of 25, and travelling on the Ann Duthie, Annie (to be known as Sr M Francesca) was one of the nine Irish postulants who came to Perthville, NSW, at the request of Bishop Matthew Quinn.  She and the other Irish postulants remained in Perthville with Sr M Hyacinth Quinlan at the time of the Separation.

12 years later, in 1887, she and four Sisters left Perthville and stayed with Mary MacKillop and the Sisters at Mount Street before they sailed on the SS Corinna to Tasmania, where Westbury would be their home, and where she would be known as Sr M Francis. To the island state she brought her own ordinariness, her simple faith, her compassion, her gaiety, her spontaneity, her patience in suffering, and a great love for both Julian and Mary.

With the faithfilled example of Sr M Francis to guide the Sisters, schools sprang up all over Tasmania. The school in Westbury, under the leadership of Sr M Francis had begun with eight students, but by the October the numbers had increased to over 100.

Sr M Francis’ burial, on 14 February 1940, was preceded by Solemn Office and Requiem Mass celebrated in Sacred Heart Church New Town. Archbishop JD Simonds presided and the Mass was celebrated by Fr F Bowman with two priests acting as deacon and subdeacon.  Altogether there were 16 priests present. The funeral procession then moved to Cornelian Bay where Sister was buried in the second large grave of the Sisters, not far from the burial place of Sr M Hyacinth Quinlan.

At her Mass the Archbishop quoted words that Sr M Francis had written to a postulant who contemplated following her to Tasmania.  She said,

‘It matters little what we do or where we do it, provided that it is His will, and we have Him alone in view.  If you leave, leave for Him, not for creatures or for yourself; if you remain, remain for Him, not for the fear of suffering or labour. Make up your mind for Calvary rather than for Tabor.’

Dr Simonds went on to say that even in the evening of her life, when most of her bright faculties had failed she always recognised Him in Holy Communion.  She died clutching the crucifix she loved so well.

Once, kneeling before a battered crib at Ulverstone Sr M Francis dotted down this prayer, "Grant, O Infant Jesus, that I may be like that shepherd, without head to reason or rebel; like that cow, without horns, to escape hurting anyone; and without feet like your little image here so as not to be able to run away from Thee.  Amen".

Sr Colleen Power rsj

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