Eleanor Mary Kennealy, who died on Sunday, January 8, 2017 at the age of 75 years, would claim that nothing exceptional happened to her when growing up: “it was a simple, normal family upbringing”.
This “normal” family of Joseph Kennealy and Ellen Creed included five daughters and three sons, Eleanor being the fourth of their children, born at South Camberwell on September 26, 1941.
Along with her siblings, Eleanor gained her early education at St Raphael’s School, West Preston. Leaving school at the age of 14, Eleanor gained employment as a sales girl at Buckley and Nunn Department Store, and then moved to Kodak where she worked as an office assistant.
She took an active interest in the life of her local parish of West Preston, including membership of groups that were current at the time – the Children of Mary, the Legion of Mary and Young Catholic Workers.
At the age of 19, Eleanor sought and obtained permission to join the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, and on February 2, 1961 she began this new phase in her life journey.
After her period of preparation was completed, she made her profession of religious vows on January 7, 1964. After a year at the Good Samaritan Teachers’ College, Glebe Point, Eleanor embarked on a ministry as teacher for some 27 years, interrupted only for further study to upgrade her teacher qualification.
Her teaching ministry, which included the role of principal, took her to schools across New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland.
In 1992, Eleanor took up another significant ministry in pastoral care and chaplaincy for the sick and aged at Sacred Heart Hospice, Darlinghurst where she was considered a “most valued colleague”. Despite health issues, Eleanor continued this work of care in varying situations until 2004, when changes in her health necessitated a lighter involvement in active ministry.
In the ensuing years, Eleanor maintained her Good Samaritan commitment in reaching out to others in her Good Samaritan community and the wider community, especially the parishes in which she lived. In these years she lived both at Marian House and Thornbury.
Despite serious illness and its impact, Eleanor was uncomplaining and always outward-looking. In 2011 when Eleanor returned to Marian House, she volunteered in the local Parish of St Joseph’s Northcote. For the next four years this was a significant and much appreciated part of her life.
In 2015, Eleanor moved to St Margaret’s Community Retirement Village at East Reservoir where she enjoyed participating in that community.
Eleanor died peacefully on January 8, 2017 in the Olivia Newton John Cancer Centre after a long struggle with cancer.
Eleanor’s Vigil service was held at Santa Maria Chapel and her Funeral Mass was held at St Joseph’s Parish, Northcote.
She is remembered very fondly by her siblings: Margaret, Joseph, Patrick, Elizabeth, Frances, Dennis, Maureen and their families, and by all her Good Samaritan Sisters with love and gratitude. Eleanor was a loving family member and a true Good Samaritan.