OBITUARY - Sr Marie Therese of the Child Jesus, OCD (1942-2017)

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OBITUARY - Sr Marie Therese of the Child Jesus, OCD (1942-2017)

In between the two great Carmelite feasts of St Therese and St Teresa in October, the Tasmanian Carmelite community suddenly lost one of its long-time members.

Sr Marie Therese of the Child Jesus, OCD, died at the Carmelite Monastery in Launceston on October 11.

Born Marie Ellen Bird at Carterton, New Zealand, in 1942, she and her twin sister Josie were the youngest of five children in a happy family of strong faith and close ties.

During her early years, Marie heard a religious sister explain about St Therese of the Child Jesus who died in the Carmel of Lisieux aged only 24. Marie thought then that she would like to join the Carmelites.

Years later, while working as a psychiatric nurse in Melbourne, Marie met someone who knew of Carmel in Tasmania. Marie contacted the Prioress and went on to enter Carmel in Launceston in July 1980. She received the religious name of Sr Marie Therese of the Child Jesus and made her First Profession of Vows in February 1982.  She made her solemn vows and life-time commitment as a Carmelite in February 1985.

Sr Marie Therese served the Community in the altar bread department and the kitchen, as well as looking after the orchard and vegetable garden. A talented hand embroiderer, she made church linens for sale and in later years she also assisted in the sacristy.

In June, Sr Marie Therese was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. She gradually accepted in peace the plan the Lord had revealed for her while receiving treatment.

On October 11 her condition took a serious turn. The Carmelite community gathered  at her bedside and were praying the prayers for the dying as Sister peacefully rendered her soul to the Lord she had loved and served so faithfully.

Family members travelled from New Zealand and mainland Australia as the Archbishop of Hobart, the Most Reverend Julian Porteous, and six Tasmanian priests concelebrated a sung Requiem Mass on October 16. The community gives thanks for the life and peaceful death of this daughter of New Zealand and adopted Australian daughter of Carmel.

With thanks to Mother Teresa Benedicta, OCD.