It may have seemed inevitable that Eileen Margaret Monagle would discern and respond to a call to religious life. Two aunts, Sisters Eina and Patricia O’Keefe, were already Sisters of the Good Samaritan when Eileen was born.
Of her two sisters, both tested a call to religious life – one as a Good Samaritan Sister, one at Carmel – but frail health dictated another direction in life for them. Three of her brothers became members of the Christian Brothers Congregation.
Eileen’s long years of cheerful, committed service as a Sister of the Good Samaritan have affirmed her desire for this way of life.
Born at Preston, Victoria, on June 18, 1923, Eileen was the tenth of twelve children born to William Monagle and Julia O’Keefe – a family of nine sons and three daughters. At 90 years of age, Eileen was the last surviving member of her family.
Eileen began her school years at Sacred Heart School Preston, and her secondary studies were completed at Santa Maria College, Northcote.
In 1940, after passing the Commonwealth Public Service Examination, Eileen was appointed to the Contracts Board of the Clothing Department of Supply and Development where she spent three years as stenographer. However, the call to religious life was strong in her, and in 1942, she sought approval to join the Congregation of the Good Samaritan Sisters.
This desire was fulfilled when Eileen came to the Novitiate at Pennant Hills on January 6, 1943, where she began this new stage in her life with the religious name of Sister Mary Eunan.
Eileen made her profession of vows on January 6, 1946, and following registration at St Scholastica’s Teachers’ College, began a ministry in education in the challenging area of infants classes in schools in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria. These appointments, in some instances, included the roles of principal of the infants school, and superior of the community.
Following a year of spiritual and physical renewal in 1983, Eileen spent the next 22 years in a variety of roles offering support, companionship and care through parish-based visitation of the elderly, sick or those in need.
Eileen was very diligent about everything that she undertook. Although quiet by nature, she was gifted with a ready wit and enjoyed singing and telling a good story.
In November 2005 Eileen moved from active ministry to a more restful pace of life in community at Marian House, Northcote. Here, she spent many hours meticulously tending the garden, which gave her great joy.
After some months of illness, Eileen moved to Villa Maria where she quickly made friends with other residents. She died on June 21 with the prayer on her lips: “Take me. Take me NOW”.
Eileen is remembered with love and gratitude by her Sisters of the Good Samaritan.