On April 18, 1934, Monica Mary Sparks was born to William and Sabina Sparks (nee Corlis). William was a labourer and born in Sunny Corner, NSW; Sabina was born in Ben Bullen, NSW. Monica described herself as a much-loved and much-anticipated child. Her father was her hero and mate, and her mother helped form her creative and sensitive daughter in wonder and delight. Monica’s brother Lawrence was born three years after Monica.
Even at a young age at St Dominic’s School, Kandos, Monica developed an earnest spiritual life; her keen sense of social justice earned her the name “Sparksfire”. She was popular and a natural leader. Monica won a bursary to secondary school at St Scholastica’s, completing her leaving certificate in 1951.
On leaving school, Monica returned to Kandos. She helped with teaching Grade 5 until she entered the Good Samaritan Novitiate on July 2, 1953. Monica was given the religious name of Sister Mary Dominic but later returned to her baptismal name.
Monica made her first profession of vows on January 6, 1956, followed by teacher training at St Scholastica’s Glebe. This led to a rich and rewarding career in teaching in our Good Samaritan Colleges for close on 20 years.
Always a warm and deeply caring woman, Monica did further study in pastoral care. This led to Monica and Sister Marcia Magill opening, in 1988, a house which became known as the House of Sacred Space. Here adults were offered space for rest, reflection, retreat and the chance to be listened to. Having trained as a masseuse, Monica was also able to offer massage to the guests. She volunteered at Malawa Women’s Prison where she also offered massage.
Monica gained her Masters of Pastoral Studies in Chicago and then returned home to Australia. She offered spiritual direction and counselling at Najara near Nambour, and then developed a passion for eco-spirituality.
After a fulfilling life of loving service, Monica moved to a retirement village at Galston in February 2014 where she continued her interest in eco-spirituality, but at a slower pace. Here, too, she was committed to the life of the parish, St Benedict’s, Arcadia.
Monica was an enthusiastic lover of life; her spirituality was profound. She painted, sang and danced! Knowing with certainty that she was loved by God, family, friends, students, colleagues and Good Samaritan Sisters, she too loved deeply. Monica moved to Bethany Hostel at Eastwood on March 19, 2018 following a marked deterioration in her health. She died there peacefully on December 11.