Born at Marrickville on July 24, 1929, Marie Patricia was the second of two children of Francis and Ellen (née Troy) Kelly. Her early years were spent in the loving environment of an extended family which included parents, grandparents and aunts. Apart from her kindergarten year spent at Narrabri, Marie’s education was begun and completed at St Brigid’s School Marrickville.
Even at an early age, Marie was no stranger to religious houses, especially Good Samaritan convents. Her grandmother’s sister was Sister Aloysius McMahon, and her cousins were Sisters Cecily Marlborough and Veronica Morris.
Later she would count among peers in her family five Good Samaritans – Sister Marilyn Kelleher from her mother’s side, and Sisters Kathleen and Maureen Reynolds (both deceased), Sister Marie O’Connor and Sister Kathleen Bourke, from her father’s side of the family.
Growing up in Marrickville, she also gained a great respect and admiration for the Congregation of the Passion (the Passionists).
In 1948, Marie requested to be admitted to the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Pennant Hills. This wish was realised when, with ten other young women, she joined the novitiate on January 6, 1949. Later in the year, this group would grow to 18, of whom 13 made their first profession of religious vows on January 5, 1952.
After gaining her Certificate of Registration as a teacher, Marie embarked on a ministry in education that covered the years 1953 to 1984 in infants, primary and secondary schools in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. In several of these schools, Marie also filled the role of principal, deputy principal, and subject co-ordinator.
Teaching was always a great joy for her despite the sometimes heavy demands and responsibilities that called for resilience, patience and good humour. She was an excellent teacher, much loved by her students and staff members. A few students from each school – especially Rozelle, Wollongong and Queanbeyan – kept in touch with her even when she had moved to Rooty Hill.
From 1986 to 1991, Marie was engaged as secretary in what was at that time identified as the Congregation’s country province of New South Wales. She still found time, however, to include literacy classes for adults and people with a disability.
Following a series of intensive courses in basic and specific areas of counselling, Marie was delighted to return to the school scene in the role of student counsellor, a role she carried out for four years at Wollongong.
Problems with her health had not been far from Marie’s experience, which had entailed many visits to hospital for surgery. In 1995, it became necessary for her to retire from full-time active ministry, and after periods spent at Avalon and Windsor, she took up residence at Polding Villa Hostel in August 1998.
When it became necessary to close the operation of the Hostel, Marie, with three other sisters from Polding Villa, was transferred to Our Lady of Consolation Home, Rooty Hill on April 14, 2005. Marie was the last surviving member of this little group of Good Samaritan Sisters. Here she showed a remarkable acceptance and patience in coping with her physical disability, still ready to enjoy what outings with family, friends and loyal ex-students her limited mobility would allow and would ultimately prevent.
Marie died on the morning of April 27, 2014. She is survived by her nephew, Mark, niece Marie and Marie’s daughters, Emma and Hayley, and remembered with love and gratitude by her Sisters of the Good Samaritan.