May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be everywhere loved!
O God, be a sheltering rock for me, a walled fortress to save me!
For you are my rock, my fortress;
for the sake of your name, guide me, lead me on.
I put my trust in you, Yahweh, I say, ‘You are my God’,
My days are in your hand, rescue me;
Let your face smile on your servant, save me in your love. (Psalm 30, 2-3;14,16)
Last Friday, as her community was at lunch, Sr Lorraine went quietly to meet her Lord, who, throughout her eighty years of life had been her, ‘rock and her fortress’, who had guided her and lead her on and who ‘let his face smile on her’ as he took her to Himself in love.
Lorraine Elizabeth Denier was born in Melbourne, the youngest of James and Mary’s three daughters. Her parents and her two sisters, Antoinette and Margaret have gone ahead of her, to their eternal rest and would, no doubt, be rejoicing in the fact that they are now re-united with their daughter for all eternity. To Lorraine’s nieces and nephews, some of whom are with us today, when you visited Lorraine, we were left in no doubt as to the depth of her love for you, as her face would break into that beaming smile of recognition. You were very special to her. We offer you our deepest sympathy and the assurance of the support of our prayers.
In 1952 Lorraine completed the Leaving Certificate at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College at Bentleigh. She was noted for her sporting prowess, especially in the areas of swimming and tennis. After two years of study at the Toorak Teachers’ College in Melbourne Lorraine gained the Victorian Education Department’s Primary Teacher’s Certificate. For the next two and a half years, Lorraine worked as a librarian in a number of Melbourne State Schools, before having her own early childhood classes in Victoria’s Upper Yarra Dam area, Yarra Glen and Hampton.
During this time Lorraine was discerning God’s plans for her. In 1956, Father Jones wrote to the Provincial of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart: For the past 15 months, I have been stationed in St Kevin’s Parish Ormond, (Melbourne), where I have known Miss Lorraine Denier quite well. She came to see me a couple of weeks ago to discuss the possibility of her vocation, and from that interview, and former knowledge, particularly from the apostolic spirit she showed in Catholic Action, I am convinced that she has the makings of a vocation to the Religious Life. She comes from an excellent Catholic Family, of the type which one can quite easily see as blessed by God with the grace of a vocation to one of its members. The Parish Priest, Father O’Brien, has a longer acquaintance with Miss Denier and the family, but unfortunately is away from the parish for the time being. Were he present, I am sure that he would give the best recommendations to Miss Denier. I pray that she may be accepted and persevere to do a great work for God in religion. Sincerely yours in Christ. (signed) Rev I Jones.
Fr Jones prayers were answered and Lorraine was accepted as a Postulant, entering Hartzer Park Novitiate in 1957. She was given the name of Sr Mary Grignion, in later years reverting to her baptismal name. Lorraine made her First Profession of Vows in January 1959, after which she moved to Kensington. As Lorraine had already completed her primary teacher training and had classroom experience behind her, she was given a year 3 class at Our Lady of the Rosary School at Kensington, followed by a year and a half at St Pauls Bentleigh and three months at St Thomas Aquinas School Bowral.
1962 saw Lorraine’s missionary dream being realized when she was appointed to Papua New Guinea. Overall, Lorraine spent a total of thirty six years in PNG, firstly as a primary teacher in Port Moresby, Ononge, and Araimiri. Then, with the change in Government Policy, Lorraine was granted registration as a Secondary teacher. Lorraine became an Education Officer Levels one and two, working in the High Schools at Marianville and Hagita where she excelled as a Maths teacher. She successfully undertook the Typewriting, Advanced Grade examination conducted by the Commercial Education Society of Australia. She was also a Member of that Society. Lorraine held a Proficiency Certificate in Dog Obedience Training, which it seems, was an essential skill for one charged with the supervision of the watchdogs that patrolled the Marianville precincts in order to protect the boarders. Then between 1984 and 1986 Lorraine had a break from the education scene and undertook pastoral ministry in the villages in the Waima area before transferring to Vunapope.
Here Lorraine was appointed as the Coordinator of the College of Distance English or CODE as it was known. This was a centre recognized by the Education Department, which provided for students who had completed Grade 6 and later Grade 8 in primary school, but who did not have the opportunity of a secondary education. Young woman who wished to join our Congregation in PNG, were required to gain further education and they were able to do so through this Centre. Lorraine’s role was to assist these aspirants as well as some MSC and FMI Sisters. It was a long, slow process, but Lorraine, with much patience, helped these young woman to reach the required standard. Her efforts were very much appreciated. Here too, her swimming ability was greatly admired! Lorraine would take every opportunity to go swimming. She was renowned for swimming ‘far out, to the horizon’, as the girls would say. Lorraine also proved to be a very informative guide and chauffeur, to the many tourists who visited the Rabaul area in the post-war years.
Between 1997 and 1999 Lorraine was a member of the Secretariat at the Liturgical Catechetical Institute at Goroka and spent some time at Napapar and then at Kabaleo, where she again worked with young woman and the Sisters in Vocational training.
Returning to Australia in 2000, Lorraine spent the next thirteen years in various Communities in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania. Her own deep love for Our Lord and her strong belief that she was deeply loved in return, was reflected in her acceptance of and her ability to take people as they were. She was noted for her outgoing manner and her friendliness to all people. She was much loved, whether it was by the members of the Seniors Group, run by the local Council, the ladies tennis group, the parishioners or anyone else who came across her path. Lorraine offered to all, a sympathetic ear and a hand in friendship. Over a number of years, no matter what Melbourne weather produced, Lorraine and two other Sisters would travel to a well-known abortion clinic, where they would join a group in prayer. Such was her passion and her dedication.
In 2013 it became necessary for Lorraine to leave Bentleigh and make her new home at St Joseph’s. Here Lorraine was able to spend time in the silent, peaceful presence of her beloved Lord, where she was most at home. During recent weeks, after a short stay in hospital, Lorraine returned to St Joseph’s. She was becoming noticeably weaker. Then last Friday, not long after the nursing staff had made her comfortable, her loving God took her to Himself, where we pray Lorraine, you may now rest in peace for all eternity, with ‘the Lord, your refuge in whom you placed your trust’.
Sr Elizabeth Little fdnsc
February 24, 2016