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Thursday, 31 March 2022 09:31

Eulogy: Sr Nora Hanrahan fdnsc (11.11.1939 – 7.3.2022)

srnorahanrahan 250Come you whom my Father has blessed, take for your inheritance the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.

We heard these words from the Gospel of Matthew the day our much-loved Sister, Nora, suddenly came face to face with the one she had so lovingly and faithfully served as a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart for over six decades.  ‘Come you whom my Father has blessed’.

To Nora’s siblings, Bryan, Patrick, Leslie, Frances, Joan, Mary, Peter, Margaret and Eileen and their partners, and all her relatives and friends who loved her so much and are deeply saddened by her death, we offer our deep sympathy and love. You know well her deep love for you, her pride and joy in you, and her gratitude to you.  We also offer sympathy to those who join us via live streaming from around Australia and the world, especially our Sisters.

Nora Mary Hanrahan was born in Ballarat Victoria, on 11th November 1939, to Edmond and Noreen Hanrahan, the eldest daughter of twelve children. The family lived on a farm in a rural community where all in the neighbourhood were known to each other and cared for one another, especially during the war years when many struggled to keep their farms going.  Her parents lived a life of integrity and their strength during the difficult years living in Rural Australia came from their deep religious faith and devotion to the Mass.

 Nora was taught by the Presentation Sisters in the parish primary school.  The classes were small in this two-Sister school and, importantly for Nora, there was regular access to the Sacraments.  For secondary studies, Nora attended Sacred Heart College, run by the Mercy Sisters in Ballarat East. Nora’s family received a subscription to the Annals and the Far East, Nora enjoyed reading the stories of the Missionaries and as a young girl was convinced that Jesus was calling her to follow him in religious life as a missionary Sister. She had a deep sense of Jesus love for her and this realisation made her want “to do something for God, to give up Australia and go somewhere else”.  And so in 1957 she entered the novitiate at Hartzer Park and made her first vows in January, 1959. She was given the name, Sr Dominic.

Nora was gifted intellectually. She did her initial teacher training here at Kensington and later completed at Bachelor of Arts/Education degree at St Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, Canada. Upon graduating from our Teachers’ College at Kensington, Nora taught in our Colleges in Australia. Always learning, Nora studied Latin and French so that she could teach these subjects.  In  1964 her dream of being a Missionary was realised when she began her epic voyage  to  Kiribati. It was a long journey on a phosphate ship to Ocean Island and from there on a smaller ship to Teaoraereke. Despite the challenges of extreme heat, lack of resources, living in a difficult isolated Mission, Nora felt a sense of deep peace as she realised her heart’s desire to be a Missionary as a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. 

Initially Nora taught in the primary school at Marakei so that she could learn the local language.  1965 saw the beginning of Nora’s involvement in secondary education in Kiribati, a role which was to last over 35 years.  She was a passionate educator and was delighted when in 1974 she travelled to Fiji to participate in a meeting of Pacific Island nations (Solomons, New Hebrides,

Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati and Fiji) to develop a Junior Secondary Curriculum for all subjects for these Pacific Island Nations.

Nora made an invaluable contribution to the education of young people in Kiribati and she made a lasting impression on so many young people and their families. Her former students remember her with fondness and that Nora was a dedicated, approachable teacher who had a genuine care for them personally.  

Her contribution to education was not confined to classroom teaching but included pre-university tutoring of students, adult religious education, and curriculum development. Many of us were delighted to be present when the then President of Kiribati, Mr. Anote Tong, visited the Convent here at Kensington, a few years, ago to bestow the Order of Kiribati upon Nora in appreciation of her contribution to Education in Kiribati. President Tong, whom Nora had taught, made a point of saying that he had waited until he was passing through Australia for Nora to receive the award as he wished to bestow it personally: a lovely tribute to her.

At times Nora had been unwell and was grateful for all the support she received. She was a woman who endured her suffering and all her physical disabilities with great acceptance and dignity. She drew her strength from her deep desire to love as Jesus loved, excluding no one, especially the poor and marginalised who held a special place in her heart. She advocated for those who have been made poor, she wrote   letters to politicians to challenge unjust policies and structures and when she was able, she would join rallies to support refugees, climate justice and peace. She was wholeheartedly committed to this.

Nora’s final years were spent as a member of the Notre Dame community at Kensington. These were happy years living in a loving community sharing faith and friendship. She enjoyed her daily household tasks, reading at Mass, listening to her audio books, sharing conversations with the Sisters, weekly chats with her family and so much more. I am grateful to Sr Moya for her loving care of Nora during these past years and to her Sisters in community whom she loved, respected and cared for equally.

Nora was an unassuming, kind and generous Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. She was courteous to all, spoke ill of no one and rejoiced in the successes and achievements of others. As one Sister noted Nora was easy to love.

We will be ever grateful to Edmond and Noreen and the Hanrahan family for the gift of Nora to our Congregation!

Go in peace dear Nora united with the one who says ‘Come you whom my Father has blessed, take for your inheritance the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.’

Thank you for your faith filled witness and your beautiful generous heart.

May your humble soul rest in peace.

We will miss you dearly Nora.

Philippa Murphy fdnsc
23rd March 2022