Sister Marilyn Kelleher (1942 – 2016)

Marilyn Kelleher SGS

Marilyn Kelleher SGS

Marilyn Anne Kelleher was born in Marrickville on February 26, 1942. She was the second but only living child of Mary Marcella (nee Troy) and Patrick Francis Kelleher.

Marilyn had precious family memories and recalled “my parents showed me great love, gave me a happy home and fostered the gift of faith through their commitment to God”. Her parents were enthusiastic supporters of St Brigid’s parish and school in Marrickville where Marilyn had her primary and secondary education.

The dedication of Sisters Theodore McMahon and Clement Baseden inspired Marilyn and her love of history and English was encouraged by them. On completing school, Marilyn worked as a library assistant at the City of Sydney Library.

Marilyn entered the Good Samaritan Novitiate at Pennant Hills at age 19 years on July 2, 1961 and was given the religious name of Sister Mary Marcella, later to change back to her baptismal name.

Marilyn was always appreciative of the foundation in Scripture, the Rule of Benedict, the current Resurrection Theology and writings of Dom Marmion, given to the novices by Mother Philomena, as well as openness to the teaching of Vatican II.

On January 7, 1964 Marilyn made her first profession of vows and teacher training at St Scholastica’s Teachers’ College, Glebe, followed. Also in 1964, she graduated with the Teacher’s Diploma in Theory and Practice of Speech from Trinity College London.

In Marilyn’s first appointment to St Patrick’s Campbelltown, with its limited resources but positive spirit, came the realisation of her passion for teaching. After seven happy years, Marilyn was transferred to St Scholastica’s and enjoyed the next 10 years there.

She was an enthusiastic teacher with a great love of learning herself, between 1971 and 1980 graduating with her BA, BA Hons, and MA Hons.

From 1982 Marilyn was principal of Stella Maris College, Manly in the difficult years of two building programs on an incredibly small site. For Marilyn these too were positive years. During these years and when she was on study leave, Marilyn was appreciative of the loving care given to her frail mother by the Good Samaritan Sisters.

In 1988 Marilyn had the opportunity of a Summer School at Oxford, by 1995 had completed five of the units towards a Bachelor of Divinity, and in 2001 was awarded her Doctorate of Philosophy at Sydney University.

In 1999 Marilyn had been appointed Executive Secretary of the NSW Catholic Principals’ Association and again she enjoyed these “exciting years” as she called them.

In the mix of these years of study and travel, Marilyn also allowed her interest in Mother Scholastica Gibbons and our early sisters to develop, and she pursued research on them in the Good Samaritan Archives at Glebe, in Kinsale, Ireland, and in the archives of Dublin, Rome, Manchester and the NSW State Archives.

With this intense interest came her appointment in 2005 to the formal research and writing of the Good Samaritan Annals volumes II and III.

At the time of her death, Marilyn had been working on volume IV, 1960 – 1969 of the Annals, despite grappling with cancer for the previous 11 years.

She had always shared a close relationship with her cousins Patricia and Russ Edwards and Mark Thompson, and she greatly valued their support in her time of illness. Her good friend Sister Katherine Larkey was particularly attentive to Marilyn who moved to care at Bethany Eastwood on February 8, 2016 and died peacefully on March 12, 2016.

Sister Marilyn Kelleher is remembered with love and gratitude by all her Good Samaritan Sisters.