It seems that Sister Mary Paule of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, Glen Avent Convent suffered a heart attack when she was hijacked on 15th June 2014. This event has completely disrupted my head space and only now that I know that she wasn’t actually murdered am I able to think straight again, as straight as I am ever able! She was my very close friend and support when we lived at Ikwezi Lokusa Mission where Joe built and managed a pottery for disabled adults. We lived there for 8 years and it was a testing and growing time for our whole family. Our children still hark back to that time frequently and especially to our relationship with Sr Mary Paule who was closely integrated into our lives as she was to all the families living on the mission and also to so many others in the town and environs.
To do justice to her life in our lives I would have to write a book and there has been much in the South African press anyway so I will not duplicate just add my voice and gratitude for her life and include here the ‘letter’ I sent with Ruth to be added into the tributes at her funeral.
On the Road
Dear Sister Mary Paule
This is Vale Sister, Hamba Kahle uSister Mary Paule.
Tomorrow Ruth will go to Mthatha to attend your memorial service. It will be 10 days since you met your untimely death. She will carry with her all the love and gratitude for your life that the Faraghers feel. In the greater scheme of things that won’t be much given the huge difference that you made to so many thousands of lives. The lives of the babies abandoned by their mothers and families to whom you gave a caring home and chance for a decent life, the abused girls and young women you created safety for and the many hundreds of us who you taught to care and forgive. Not that you actually ‘taught’ in any didactic way, it was just the way you were, that taught us how to live in the love of God and in His light. Your presence at Ikwezi Lokusa Mission during the years that we lived there 1977 – 1984 was often a kindly light in dark times when we needed someone to give us strength. We had some truly dark times in our family during those times and your care and practical responses made it possible for us to endure and grow through it all.
Of course we know that you didn’t do all this single-handed but in the teams and support you mustered you also gave some troubled souls a way to live their lives with meaning in the service of others less privileged. You were able to identify potential in the most unlikely places and release it through your many schemes and contacts in the community. You were a legend from Matatiele to Mthatha and all stops in between. I met people who remembered you as a young nun riding on horseback from village to village doing your work as a catechist from Mariazell, I always wanted to ask you what you wore to ride in in those days? The sort of habits you wore then as now wouldn’t have made it an easy thing to do to ride a horse! I am sure you found a way to do it with dignity and modesty as you did with all your many achievements. I cannot remember you ever claiming credit for any success, but I do remember you working in the background constantly to keep the school and the after care in a harmonious state.
Of course there is much more I could write and during the last 10 days I have been having flashbacks of the many and varied incidents in which you featured and I feel privileged to have had you as a close friend and companion. You were always there when I needed you except of course when you were at the Convent, (you never missed a service or ritual with your Sisters there) and I so respected the way, that although you didn’t sleep in the convent you were as much part of the life there as if you did.
We loved you and love your legacy and want you to know that whenever we can we will support Bethany and Thembelihle and the people managing them as much as we can. Tamsin gave us all an image to hang on to of Joe, Mr Faragher, to you (you never used our first names) rushing forward to welcome you to Heaven with a huge and loving hug! I add to it for myself and hear you saying “Oh Mr Faragher, have some care for an old lady with a bad back’ with your wonderful twinkle and smile.
So this is it and I thank you for your life and causes and the role you played for us when we were part of the Ikwezi family and since then when we have had time together.
May you rest in peace
Tamsin added this story…
one of my fondest memories of her, was driving home from pre-school in one of the Hiace kombis. It was one of the nun’s birthday’s and she had a cake for her with lots of white icing and blue writing on it. She carefully put it into my lap and made it K and my responsibility to keep it safe. But the potholes were too much and not long after heading off, the cake and I bounced, me back to my seat, it levitating off the board and onto our bare, dirty feet and gravelly foot well. The sheer horror of it is indescribable. She, on the other hand, took one look, carefully put it back together again, patted us on the knee and exclaimed that it was OK – Americans like upside down cakes. I will never forget that moment. And it was with great appreciation that I discovered pineapple upside down cakes when we were teenagers and realised that she wasn’t joking about Americans and upside down cakes…
Sister dining with us and Sister at Bethany.