I want to say one word to you and this word is joy. Wherever consecrated people are, there is always joy! - Pope Francis
This simple statement is a beautiful summary of our dear Sr Patricia Mawn’s whole life: a rich life of 95 years, lived with Jesus and for Jesus. On September 6th our dear Sister Patricia or Pat as she was known gently and peacefully breathed her last breath as she surrendered to her loving God whom she had served lovingly and faithfully as a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart for over seven decades.
To Pat’s relatives, especially her cousins, Margaret, Tom, Claire and Brian and their families, who loved her so much and are deeply saddened by her death, we offer our deep sympathy and love. We also offer sympathy to those who join us from around the world, especially, our Sisters the Parishioners and our associates from Corinda.
It was on 21st October, 1928 that Pat was baptised at St Francis Church, West End in Brisbane. At this time, she was known as Dorothy Dashwood, being the daughter of Charles Dashwood and Isabella Callahan. Soon after this she was adopted by Francis and May Mawn and received the name Patricia Mary. She then became the much loved only child in a devout Catholic family who by their loving example and deep faith formed our dear Pat’s loving, generous heart. She tells us that for years their house was open for the priests who came to say Mass and each of these would stay for the weekend. It is clear that Pat inherited her open welcoming heart from her parents.
Because her father was a policeman, she was influenced greatly by the many moves around the city and outback Queensland. She was educated by the Sisters of St Joseph and the Good Samaritans in Brisbane, at a State school in North Queensland, and spent four years boarding at a school conducted by the Sisters of Mercy at Huberton. It was at these schools that she received her music lessons and her great and lifelong love of music.
After she left school she worked for some years as a telephonist in different country towns. For her like many others of her age the years of the second World War left a lasting effect on her. She clearly remembered that during her time in North Queensland several divisions of the Army were stationed nearby. Then, in 1948 she joined the Novitiate of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Bowral. Her Parish Priest wrote a glowing report about her during the time he knew her from 1943. He tells us that she was a good, pious, and exemplary Catholic girl who gave religious instruction to the children of the parish and prepared them for their first confession and Holy Communion and helped with turning the local hall at Landsborough into a church for the Sunday Mass. At times she also acted as the Altar Server. Pat was a capable young woman and when she saw a need she responded with enthusiasm and joy.
When she was professed in July, 1950, she began her life long ministry as a music teacher. She was a wonderful teacher, very gentle and caring of all her pupils. To become better equipped for her teaching in 1960 she gained her Association in Music, a diploma awarded to outstanding candidates in musical performance and theory. After this she taught music in OLSH Schools in many parts of Australia including Toowoomba, Daceyville, Alice Springs, Darwin, Mascot, Bowral, and Kensington. Her music teaching began and ended in her much loved Corinda. In community she is remembered as always being interested in others, full of fun and a pleasant person to be with who enjoyed her recreation time.
During her retirement in Corinda she kept up with her music by playing the organ in the church for many years and she so loved playing music that frequently at night she went into the back room of the convent where there was a piano and with her headphones on, so as to not disturb anyone, she would play the piano for quite a long time. She also played the guitar, which came to St Joseph’s with her and which she played whenever she could, until her fingers could no longer pluck the strings. Pat was a much loved member of the Corinda Parish, She was especially loved by our OLSH Associates in Corinda for her graciousness, listening ear and sense of humour.
She kept busy with other interests too. Pat helped with Meals on Wheels and the people she worked with thought very highly of her. She made good friends among those she worked with preparing the meals in the kitchen for the drivers to collect. She did this for many years each Friday after Mass at Canossa. Pat loved travel. She really loved going by train. Each year she would go on a train trip to Cairns; stay in a backpacker hostel there for a couple of nights; and then make her way back to Corinda by train. Her last trip was just before she turned 90. When she knew she could not manage it any more, she just said, “this was my last trip”, and she was very sad about it. If Pat needed to go to Sydney, her preferred mode of transport was by train. She couldn’t be persuaded to go by plane. Pat enjoyed family gatherings with her cousins Margaret and Tom and she loved her trips to Bilinga. Quite often she went on these trips with her cousins Claire and Brian, who remember these times with great fondness
Pat was a deeply spiritual woman. At Corinda she was known to sit in the Chapel for hours at a time just conversing with her God. She loved these times and her life at this stage centred around these precious moments of prayer. She could say with Fr Jules Chevalier, “After so many signs of love, could we hesitate in giving him our boundless trust.”
Those who lived with Pat can say that their lives were greatly enriched from having known her, because in her own quiet, and determined way, she had so much to give and always gave graciously.
In 2019, as Pat’s health was failing, she joined the community of St Joseph’s at our aged care facility, where she was beautifully cared for until her death.
We thank God for the many gifts given to Sr Patricia, we thank the Mawn family for their gift of her to our religious family. We know Pat loved her family greatly and held her cousins close to her heart.
We thank you Pat for your welcoming heart, your deep spirituality, graciousness, and warm smile. May your gentle soul rest in peace.