Margaret Mary Lyons was born in Brisbane on August 15, 1932 to Francis and Mary (nee Casey) Lyons, the second child in a family of three girls.
Growing up on a cattle station – Dagworth – in the Gulf country of North Queensland, Margaret and her sisters were taught by a governess and enrolled in the Brisbane-based correspondence school in their early years. From 1941-1943 the girls boarded at Mt Saint Bernard School, Herberton, conducted by the Sisters of Mercy.
When the family moved to Charters Towers in 1944, Margaret, who already knew the Sisters of the Good Samaritan as her two aunts were members of the Congregation, attended St Columba’s Primary School as a day student. She completed her education, successfully gaining her Senior Certificate, at St Mary’s College in 1950.
After leaving school, Margaret applied for admission to the Good Samaritan Novitiate. She began a new phase in her life as she joined other young women at Pennant Hills on July 2, 1951. Margaret was given the name Sister Mary Baptista, but later reverted to her baptismal name, Margaret.
On January 6, 1954 Margaret made her profession of vows. She moved to St Scholastica’s Training College and completed her Certificate of Teaching at the end of that year. To her great delight, she moved back to North Queensland in 1955 where she happily spent one year teaching in St Margaret Mary’s Primary School.
In January 1956, Margaret was asked to go to Japan. She answered this request with courage and enthusiasm and spent 22 years on mission in Japan living and engaged in ministry amongst the people.
After studying the Japanese language for four years in Nara and Tokyo, Margaret graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1960. This qualified her to teach English to middle school girls at Seiwa College, Sasebo, until the end of the school year in 1965.
Her skill and confidence in speaking Japanese enabled her to undertake parish work in Nara for the next five years before she joined the community at Yoyogi, Tokyo in 1971. Here she worked with the staff supporting young women university students in a hostel established by the Sisters.
In 1972 Margaret returned to Australia for a family visit. She enjoyed a happy year spending time with her sisters, her family and friends. The following year she returned to Sasebo where she engaged in ministry for a further seven years.
Margaret left Japan to undertake a year’s renewal course in Australia in 1980 before taking up teaching Japanese in Warriewood New South Wales. After 12 months Margaret returned to the north where she spent the next 20 years of her life teaching her much loved Japanese to senior students in St Margaret Mary’s College, Townsville.
During this time Margaret was a wonderful tutor and colleague to quite a few Japanese language teachers, a number of whom are still teaching in Townsville. She also developed a strong exchange program with Seiwa Girls College in Japan through which many students have experienced cross-cultural living in home-stay and education programs.
Margaret’s deep faith, love and trust in God were appreciated by all who knew her. She had a deep love for her siblings, her Good Samaritan Sisters, her colleagues, her students and their families who appreciated her presence and interest in their.
During her last ten years in Townsville, Margaret continued to contribute to life as a volunteer in the community. Her gentle spirit and dry sense of humour was enjoyed by many with whom she shared anecdotes of her rich experience of life and mission in Japan. She was a gracious woman, known and admired for her welcoming presence and hospitality for all.
After one last year in Japan in 2002, Margaret returned to Townsville where she continued to take an interest in the lives of staff and students at St Margaret Mary’s College.
In 2011 she retired to Marycrest at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane. Here, during the last years of her life, her love of music, her mastery and beautiful violin playing, and her love of singing, developed throughout her life, brought much joy and enriched the lives of staff and residents.
Margaret died peacefully at Marycrest in the twilight hours of November 29 with her sister, Monica, by her bedside. She is remembered with love and gratitude by her Good Samaritan Sisters, her extended family and many friends.