Sisters of Today

Sister Mary Leonard

Profiled in April 2005 (updated March 2013)mary_leonard

I was born in Ohakune, to Apolonia, nee Fabish, and Francis Mischewski, the 12th child in the family.  My family had originally migrated to New Zealand from Poland in 1876.  I was baptised Barbara Barecia Mischewski.

My childhood memories are of the timber industry at Ohakune, in which my father was prominent.  He was also a great collector of articles of furniture, and I was delighted when he bought us a beautiful piano.  My sister taught me to begin with, and then I had lessons from the Sisters of St Joseph, in the local Convent School I attended.  After gaining my Proficiency I spent an extra year doing commercial at school, then left to help out at home.

In 1932 at 16 years of age, I took the opportunity to enter the community of the Sisters of St Joseph in Wanganui, and I was professed as a sister in 1935.  Now named Sister Leonard, I trained as a primary school teacher, and began my teaching ministry in schools in Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, and the country areas of the Central North Island.  I taught the whole range of age groups, taught music, looked after the local Church, gardened, studied, and visited school and parish homes.  I was also appointed to lead some of the communities of Sisters.  Every two years I travelled to Hastings for the reunion of a class I taught there in 1937.

When I retired from teaching, I spent some time helping in the infirmary in Wanganui, and then time in community in various branch houses.  I was one of the first to put my name down to be a resident of Quinlan Court when it was being built, and I was one of the original residents on Opening day in 1998. Thanks to my electric scooter I remain active and I keep in touch with family and friends, visiting them when I am able.

In 2005 I celebrated my 70th anniversary of Profession.

Gallery / Whakaahua

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