Violet Adams was born at Toxteth Park, Liverpool, England on April 16, 1913, the youngest of two sons and three daughters born to Robert and Leah (nee Hynes) Adams. One boy, John, died in Liverpool. Violet’s father was in the Army for most of his working life and came to Australia to join the Forces here. When Violet, called Mary from her early years, was only a few months old, the family also moved to Australia and settled in Tasmania. Not long after their arrival Violet’s mother and younger sister died.
Before going overseas to war in 1914, Violet’s father sought the assistance of a good family, the Fitzpatricks, and entrusted the two girls – Leah and Violet – to them until his return. Violet loved living with this family in Taroona and often made mention of their kindness to her.
When her father returned from the war he settled at Kingston Beach. However work commitments and circumstances made it necessary for him to place Violet in St Joseph’s Orphanage in Hobart conducted by the Sisters of Charity. She lived there until she was 14.
The Sisters of Charity were early guides in Violet’s faith journey. She became a Catholic and received her First Communion in the church adjacent to the convent of the Sisters of Charity where Mother Mary Scholastica Gibbons, co-foundress of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, initially retired following her resignation as Superior of the young congregation.
Violet’s contact with the Sisters of the Good Samaritan began when she read in the local Catholic newspaper of the death in 1931 of Mother Mary Berchmans McLaughlin, third Superior of the Good Samaritan Sisters. Feeling called to religious life, it seems the name “Good Samaritan” attracted Violet. She wrote to Mother Mary Basil Carden, superior at that time, and was invited to come to Sydney. She was met at Sydney Central Station by Mother Mary Marcella Kenny and Sister Mary Dominic Cook, the first Good Samaritan Sisters she had ever met. She stayed at St Scholastica’s Convent one night before entering the novitiate on September 26, 1931 where she was given the name Sister Mary Inigo (a variant of Ignatius).
She made her first profession of vows on July 10, 1934 and to her great delight, her father attended the ceremony. Soon after her profession she was asked to go to St Magdalen’s, Arncliffe, “for a fortnight” which eventually extended to a period of 26 years. Her other ministries included supervisor of boarders at St Scholastica’s College and Lourdes Hill College, infirmarian, seamstress and parish worker.
In later years she changed to her preferred childhood name and became known as Sister Mary. Though small in stature, Mary was much loved and admired by those who knew her as a strong, dedicated and forthright woman. To the end of her days she never lost her ability to gently but firmly express her opinion and energetically ‘argue the point’.
She loved people and treated all, the young women at St Magdalen’s, the sisters in the infirmary and the novitiate, the students in the boarding schools or the people she visited in her parish ministries, her only surviving relative, Patty and her family, with love, respect and gentle but firm understanding and care. People sought her out for her lived wisdom and she willingly shared her deep faith simply with those with whom she lived and ministered.
In 2004, wanting to continue her pastoral ministry but, looking for “something easier”, Mary asked to move to Marycrest Hostel at Kangaroo Point. She felt a strong urge to be back with the Sisters of Charity, and took up residence there in January 2005. Here she was able to continue her ministry of visitation of the sick at Mount Olivet Hospital and she spent many hours visiting and assisting residents in the hostel.
In April 2013, Mary celebrated her 100th birthday during which she was presented with a papal blessing by Sister Clare Condon. It was a joyful celebration attended by many Good Samaritan Sisters, relatives and friends, who were delighted to see her humbly receive it.
Mary’s interest in and love of life was strong to the end. She died as she lived, at peace with herself and with faith and trust in her God.
In her later years, when her sight failed, the invocation, “Abba, my Father, in your great love I trust”, was her constant prayer. When asked how she was, Mary would answer quietly “I’m tired and waiting to go home to God”. Her longing was answered when she died peacefully on May 16 and returned home to her God.
Mary is survived by her niece, Patricia, and is remembered with love and gratitude by all her Good Samaritan Sisters.