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Tuesday, 05 April 2022 16:51

Eulogy: Sr Yvonne Berecry fdnsc (21.10.1934 - 13.3.2022)

sryvonneberecry 250So long Thy Love has led me, surely it will lead me on”

As Yvonne looked back over her life’s journey, she realised how this prayer had helped her to accept the challenges, joys and difficulties of the many and varied apostolates she carried out as a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. On Sunday 13th March, Jesus gently took Yvonne to himself. She was 87 years old and 67 years professed.

To Yvonne’s relatives and friends who loved her so much and are deeply saddened by her death, we offer our deep sympathy, prayers, and love.  We also offer sympathy to those who join us via livestreaming from around the world and throughout Australia, especially our Sisters.

Yvonne Eleanor Berecry was born on 21st October, 1934.  She was the second child of Mathew and Annie Berecry. The family lived on Sydney Lower North Shore and she grew up in an extended family situation. Her father was an interior painter and decorator, and her mother was a dress maker and loved craft. It’s clear she passed this love onto Yvonne.  During the Second World War her father worked at the dockyards on Garden Island repainting warships. Inhaling these fumes made him seriously ill. Yvonne’s fathers illness had a great impact on her and at age 10 she decided she would be a nurse so she could care for sick. 

Yvonne attended Primary School at St Leonards, Naremburn and it was on her first Communion Day that Yvonne felt God was calling her to be a Religious Sister.  After completing the Leaving Certificate at Loretto, Kirribilli, Yvonne told her parents of her desire to enter Religious Life, but they asked her to work for at least one year first, so she found employment at Singer Sewing School in Sydney, teaching sewing and attending to administrative tasks. 

Yvonne said she tried to avoid answering God’s call to be a Sister even asking God to give her vocation to her only sister Gwen whom she believed would make a better nun than she would. Yvonne’s call to be a missionary sister grew stronger and stronger and eventually led her to the both the Marist Sisters and the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. After praying Yvonne felt Jesus was calling her to be a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. She entered the Novitiate in May 1953 at Hartzer Park.  After profession in 1955, Yvonne was sent to study at Kensington in preparation for teacher training.  However, after one year, the Provincial found out that she was interested in nursing so she was sent to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Hospital at Randwick to help out until the training school was commenced.  The sisters had to turn three houses into a hospital and, although most of the time she worked in the kitchen, there was also cleaning, painting and many other jobs, including assisting as a Nurse’s Aide on evening.  Yvonne was a hard worker and completed her tasks with enthusiasm and generosity.

Having completed her General Nurse training in April 1964, Yvonne went to Calvary Hospital, Adelaide, for midwifery training.  By May 1965, she took off on her first mission - an appointment to the rather small mission at Daly River, some five hours drive southwest of Darwin.  However, firstly she went to spend a few weeks with Sr Marion Whelan on Bathurst Island.  Sr Marion became quite sick and Yvonne was left at Bathurst Island to carry on the nursing.  This was quite a challenge but a very happy time in Yvonne’s life; she had a deep love and respect for the Tiwi people.  She did not make it to Daly River!

In 1968, Yvonne returned to Randwick for a year and worked as a nurse in the hospital.   The following year Yvonne was missioned to Papua New Guinea and ministered at Napapar in East New Britain, about 11 km from Rabaul, not far from the Baining Mountains.  Here she experienced two earthquakes in 1970, ten days apart.  The second one was quite severe at 6.4 and caused much damage at Napapar, particularly in the clinic.  After three years there, Yvonne returned to Sydney to do her Diploma of Nursing Education and in 1973 she returned as principal of the Nurse Training School at Paparatava, Rabaul.  In 1977 she transferred to the Diocesan Hospital at Vunapope – this was a 300 bed hospital with 100 trainees: hospital nurses, rural health nurses and nurse-aides. Yvonne was very competent, dedicated and an enthusiastic nurse who treated her patients with compassion and kindness.

With failing health, Yvonne came to Sydney for diagnosis and treatment.  As her health improved she worked in parishes in Toowoomba and Mascot and in 1986 she went to Santa Teresa to take care of the community library for a year. Yvonne enjoyed her time in this barren land in the heart of Australia and marvelled at the resilience of the local people who lived in the difficult desert conditions. The following year Yvonne moved to Darwin where she worked as the inter-church chaplain at Darwin hospital. Yvonne made many good friends in Darwin, and she remained close to them until her death.   Returning to Kensington, Yvonne ministered at St Joseph’s Aged Care Facility as Diversional Therapist for fifteen years. She had a passion for the supreme value and dignity of human life in all its stages from conception to death.

Like her mother Yvonne was a gifted dressmaker, she was always willing to put her many gifts at the service of community. She possessed a particular flare for creating all kinds of decorations for  Feast Days and other National Days such as Anzac Day and Melbourne Cup Day. These innovative talents were put to wonderful use in her role of Diversional Therapist for our Sisters and the Residents at St Joseph’s.

Sr Yvonne was a faithful, prayerful religious and always true to her vocation as a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. In 2013 as Yvonne’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 will be ever grateful to Matthew, Annie and Berecry family for the gift of Yvonne to our Congregation!

Go in peace dear Yvonne, your lifelong Motto has been fulfilled ‘so long Thy Love has led me, surely it will lead me on.’

Thank you for your faith filled witness, generosity, and kindness.

May your courageous soul rest in peace.

Philippa Murphy fdnsc

31st March 2022