Sister Philomena Barry (1924 – 2014)

Philomena Barry SGS

Philomena Barry SGS

Philomena Mary Barry was born at Jindabyne to William and Alvina (nee Rankin) Barry on August 20, 1924. She was the youngest of nine children, one of whom died in infancy.

Philomena lived on her parents’ property at Moonbah, near Cooma until 1945. It was from this family home she joined the Sisters of the Good Samaritan.

Philomena’s early education began at Moonbah State School and her secondary education continued at Cooma High School. Her religious education was undertaken within the family and Philomena had no doubt that her call to religious life was fostered by her faith-filled parents.

Before coming to the novitiate, Philomena had little contact with religious women, but had a connection with the Sisters of the Good Samaritan through her aunt, Sister Mary Scholastica Barry (1881-1961).

In July 1944, she wrote requesting to be admitted to the congregation. This desire was eventually achieved when Philomena joined the novitiate of the Good Samaritan Sisters, Pennant Hills, on January 6, 1945 and was given the name, Sister Mary Chrysanthus, to mark the new phase in her life as a religious sister. When the opportunity came later to revert to her baptismal name, she was once again known as Philomena.

Following her first profession of vows on January 6, 1948, Philomena obtained her Certificate of Teaching at the Good Samaritan Teachers’ College, Glebe Point, before embarking on a ministry of education that would continue for some 36 years.

From 1949 to 1985 she taught infants and primary school children in schools in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and Queensland. During this time, Philomena often joined the responsibilities of school principal and community superior to her classroom duties.

In 1977 she was engaged in religious education of Catholic children in State Schools in the Campbelltown-Macarthur region.

From 1986 to 2005, Philomena’s ministry was largely centred on the parish – as parish assistant, pastoral visitor and co-ordinator of the sacramental program. These ministries were carried out at Koroit in Victoria, and at Queanbeyan, Macquarie Fields, Windsor, Wollongong, Nowra and Campbelltown in New South Wales.

In 2006, Philomena joined the community at Polding Villa and, until her recent illness, she shared in the community ministry of offering hospitality to both community and guests.

Philomena is survived by her many and much loved nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and remembered with affection and gratitude by her Sisters of the Good Samaritan.