In Memory of Sr Mary Boyes

On Sunday 26 April, with sadness we learned of the death of Sr Mary Boyes RSM, the Chaplain at St John of God Halswell from 2001-2017.
Sr Mary Boyes

Sister Mary was approached in 2000 to consider taking on the chaplaincy role at Halswell. She was diffident at first. She had been a teacher and school counsellor, and was not at all familiar with the hospital environment. She often recalled with a laugh Brother Stephen’s sage advice to her in those early days  “Stick around. You’ll soon get used to it”. and she did. In August 2001, Sister Mary began a fifteen year tenure of total devotion to her new calling.

Sister Mary excelled in the role. She undertook chaplaincy education programmes, both clinical and pastoral, to upskill herself. At hospital chaplaincy conferences in Australia she noted the prime, reflective site given to the chapel in many hospitals and resolved to make the prayer-room at Halswell an equally sacred space.

Her ministry was not confined to Catholic residents. Sister Mary visited all St. John of God residents and got to know their families. Everyone was invited to the St. John of God feast day celebration she would help organise on 8 March each year. And when a resident of another faith, or no faith tradition, died Sister Mary would be on hand to help with funeral arrangements or sometimes lead the entire funeral service, often on site at Halswell. Then, in keeping with an established tradition, she would conduct a memorial service for those who had died throughout the year while in the care of St. John of God.

In 2012 Sr Mary was joined in the Pastoral role by Glenys Webster and Sr Mary reduced her fulltime role, but not her commitment to the residents at St John of God. With an eye to the future they began the formation of a Pastoral Volunteers group

Sr Mary’s ministry at SJOG was very important to the people who benefited from her care. She was always generous with her time and energy and meticulous in her planning and attention to detail. She was equally at home preparing the annual memorial service or tending the barbeque at a feast day celebration. She could enjoy a joke and happily organise the SJOG Melbourne Cup sweep stake. But those who appreciated her most will probably remember her for the times she sat with them as they shared their struggles and distress, for her prayerful presence and wise words, for the interest she took in their families and their stories, and the on-going support she provided to both residents and caregivers in difficult times.

Her decision to leave SJOG in 2017 was not an easy one, as her ministry here meant a lot to her too. But she was concerned that her deteriorating health meant she could not give it the one hundred percent she expected of herself, and anything less was not acceptable to her.

Sister Mary retired from St John of God in 2017, and despite her health concerns she continued as an active member of the Mercy community, particularly supporting some of the elderly Sisters.

She herself was in her 60th year of Religious Profession with Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa, the Sisters of Mercy New Zealand

She moved to Nazareth House just before the lockdown and was most concerned that she hadn’t been able to finish (to her standards) the packing up of her flat. While she had fought ill health over many years, resigning herself to palliative care in these last months was quite a journey, but Sr Mary tackled it with faith and courage.

We offer our sympathies to her family and to her Mercy Community. We will look forward to the opportunity of sharing with them, in easier times, a memorial celebration that honours her life, faith and commitment to ministry.

We remember her with gratitude and love.

Eternal rest grant to her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace.

From the Press April 27 2020

BOYES, Sister Mary RSM
(Mary Una):
On April 26, 2020, at Nazareth House, Christchurch, supported by staff, her Mercy community and family. Aged 78 years. Dearly loved member of Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa, Sisters of Mercy New Zealand, in the 60th year of her Religious Profession. Dearly loved daughter of the late Edna and Kenneth Boyes, loved sister of Margaret Shepherd, Peter, Frances Smith, Adrienne McGuinniety, John, David and Michael. Loved sister-in-law and aunt. Special thanks to staff of Nazareth House and Mercy carers. Messages to PO Box 6095, Upper Riccarton, Christchurch 8442. Due to current restrictions, a private burial will be held at Waimairi Cemetery, Grahams Road. A Memorial Mass for Mary will be celebrated at a later date.

Kia okioki ia i runga
i te rangimarie.
May Mary rest in peace.