Sisters of the Past
Sister Pauline - Kathleen Coleman
Profiled in Jun 2003
10 February 1911 - 10 May 1998
When a teacher is remembered with affection and respect 55 years on by past pupils, then that person has been a great educator. Such a person was Sister Pauline Coleman.
Kathleen Mary Coleman was born in New Plymouth in 1911, the third of nine children, to Joseph and Theodora Coleman who were dairy farmers in South Taranaki. She remained a lover of the rural life style and the people of the land all her life.
Kathleen was educated by the Sisters of St Joseph at Manaia Catholic School and Sacred Heart College Wanganui. At age 20 she entered the novitiate of the Sisters and took the name Pauline. After her training went on to teach in Catholic primary schools in Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Wellington.
Pauline’s gifts as a teacher were recalled by appreciative past pupils at her funeral in Hawera. Both men and women spoke of her ability to spur them on to learn in spite of themselves. At the same time she became a mentor and friend who gave support and guidance at crisis times in their lives. The friendships that grew out of the initial pupil/teacher relationships lasted over the years, and Pauline was very faithful in keeping in touch with a wide range of people in many parts of New Zealand.
After 45 years as a classroom teacher and principal, Pauline moved into parish pastoral work in Ohakune, Gonville and St Mary’s parishes in Wanganui. Her chief concern was for the elderly, the sick, and under privileged.
She lived for seven years at Rothesay council flats in Wanganui. Her care and concern for people made her an active member of that community and she was sadly missed when she moved to Nazareth Rest Home in 1994. Despite her failing health, Pauline continued to keep in contact with her many friends, visiting where possible. The spirit which had led her to push against the barriers in many areas throughout her life, did not allow her to sit back and rest even at this stage.
In 1996, a strong desire to move close to her family led to her change of residence to Calvary Rest Home in Hawera. She died there on May 10 1998. That she was a much loved and respected member of her extended family was shown by the large crowd that attended her funeral in St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Hawera on May 13. Later that day she was buried at Aramoho Cemetery in Wanganui.
Sister Pauline surrounded by her pupils at St Joseph's School, Hastings.