Vale Sister Mary Gregory SGS

Lilian Mary Gregory was born at Grafton on February 25, 1923 the first of six children born to Alfred and Lilian (O’Neil) Gregory.

Mary first attended the local school at East Bank, Coramba, and when this school closed down was welcomed by grandparents at nearby Coffs Harbour, where she attended the local convent school conducted by the Good Samaritan Sisters.

Mary’s secondary education was completed as a boarder at St Mary Star of the Sea College, Wollongong. She went on to become a teacher of commercial studies and took up a teaching post at her Alma Mater.

In 1944 when she turned 21, Mary entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan at Pennant Hills and was given the religious name of Sister Mary Processus, a name that would later become familiar and respected in civil courts and in various social institutions and agencies that cared for people in need.

Mary made her first profession of vows on January 6, 1947, and after teacher training at St Scholastica’s Glebe, spent some years in secondary education at St Benedict’s Broadway, at Braidwood and a few years later at Moruya.

Throughout her life, Mary Gregory remained strongly committed to her family, to her Good Samaritan vocation, and to her ministry of social welfare. Numerous newspaper cuttings confirm her life of service of others. Invariably the articles contain the words “family” or “families”, “the marginalised” or “poor”. These words aptly describe where her heart lay, and identify the people who welcomed her care and compassion.

From the time she began studies for a Diploma of Social Studies in 1955 to her latter years, Mary’s list of ministry appointments and representation on committees and delegations contain a veritable compendium of welfare agencies for every social need.

In 1957 she was charged with converting the home for dependent children at Mater Dei Narellan to a special residential school for girls with an intellectual disability. It was a task requiring competence and great sensitivity. Mary’s strength of character, courage and humility was shown in the way she accepted an abrupt transfer from this ministry.

These qualities came to the fore in Mary’s future appointments – as Director of the Good Samaritan Training Centre at Arncliffe for socially disadvantaged adolescents, and in setting up a School Social Work Service in conjunction with the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau, and initiating a School Community Program on the campus of three Catholic schools in Marrickville.

In 1981 Mary spent a month in Suva, Fiji, assisting a local community with their Social Welfare Program for the rehabilitation of young women in need.

After gaining a Master of Arts degree with Honours in 1986 from Fordham University, New York, majoring in Family Ministry, for ten years Mary devoted her services to the field of family ministry in the Diocese of Canberra-Goulburn.

She then pioneered the Animation Project, sponsored by the St Vincent de Paul Society in the public housing estates across the Macarthur Region. Her enthusiasm for, and practical involvement in, such enterprises endured to the end of her life.

Mary was respected and much loved within her Good Samaritan communities. Her encouragement of other sisters was a hallmark of her life, as too her commitment to personal and communal prayer.

In May 2013 when she herself needed more physical support she chose to live at IRT Macarthur to be among those she had known and loved in the Macarthur Region.

After a short illness, Mary died peacefully at Campbelltown Hospital on January 3, 2019.

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile,” observed Albert Einstein. Mary Gregory, a truly good woman, lived fully for others. She lived a most worthwhile life.