This page, including text and images, is Copyright To Anne Frandi-Coory
All Rights Reserved 6 August 2015
Excerpts from a letter sent to Anne Frandi-Coory by Sister Bernadette Mary, Archivist
Home of Compassion, Island Bay Wellington, New Zealand.
In response to your enquiry about the time your mother spent as a novice with the Sisters of Compassion, the following is what I have found in the Convent’s Register:
Your mother was 19 years old when she entered the Convent at Island Bay on the 7th December 1939 as a postulant. This is a kind of probationary period to find out whether or not a person is suited to the religious life. There was a separate wing set out as the Novitiate in the red brick building which had been built in the early 1930s, and was where all the novices were trained.
A note made four months later, in April 1940, reveals that the Novice Mistress found Doreen to be a very highly strung person, but her manner was always pleasant. By July, Doreen always seemed to be worried about her family at home, especially her mother. However, she wanted to become a novice and looked forward to her reception into the Novitiate, the next stage of training to be a Sister of Compassion.
In July Doreen had to write to the Superior General asking to be admitted into the Novitiate, and giving her reasons for wanting to do so; that is the usual procedure. Apparently she was formally accepted, for on 15th September 1940 she was received as a novice, together with four other young women. She was given the name Sister Mary Martina.
We all had to go through the same kind of training that Doreen would have had during her postulancy and Novitiate days, and although looking back, things were hard, we were never unhappy or abused in any way. Most of the time we were kept very busy indeed, either working in the laundry or caring for the babies and children, which didn’t give us much free time for idleness, I can tell you from experience.
At the age of twenty Doreen requested to go home and subsequently left the Convent on 16th November 1940. There are no further comments in the Register. Any medical records were returned to Doreen when she left and there is no record of her being sick or having a nervous breakdown during her eleven months at the Convent.
I believe that Doreen often came to visit the Sisters after she had left the Sisters of Compassion. She rode out to the Convent on her bicycle which she had named ‘Martina’.
Sister Bernadette Mary