Sister Joan Farrell passed away peacefully on Thursday, September 23 at St Catherine's Aged Care in Bathurst, aged 94 years.
Born in Orange on June 24, 1927, she was the second of nine children to Coral and Edward (Ted) Farrell. Her early life was spent in Trundle and Sofala before returning to Orange.
At the time of her death, she is survived by three sisters, 25 nieces and nephews, 46 grand nieces/nephews and nine great grand nieces and nephews.
The Farrell family are well known in Orange as descendants of Michael Farrell who came with his mother from Ireland to settle in Orange in 1864. The family has been associated in community affairs over many years and Farrell Rd exists on the north side of Orange in recognition of them.
Sister Joan Farrell was the first born infant at Wontama - Nurse Lemmins Hospital, in Orange. She received a silver eggcup and spoon as a memento of the occasion. Her schooling was at Santa Maria College in Orange.
As the eldest daughter of the family, her early years were focused on assisting her family with domestic duties. Her mother ran a general store and accommodated boarders whilst her father worked and managed retail shops and stores.
Throughout her teenage years and early 20s she worked in the administration of Raffin's Men's Store in Orange and participated in social activities with her friends and family but always felt uncomfortable in that she lacked a proper purpose for her life.
She always had a feeling that joining a religious order would be right for her, as her life would only be fulfilled if she was helping somebody.
In 1954, at age 24, she entered the convent of the St Joseph Sisters (founded by Saint Mary MacKillop) at Perthville and took the name of Sister Mary Elizabeth.
After two-and-a-half years years in the convent, which included teacher training, she was sent to Gulgong as principal of the local Catholic school. She enjoyed her teaching of the children and claimed that her expertise was in "the three Rs" because it was in the basis of all learning.
She had many transfers throughout the western districts of NSW including Forest Reefs, Wattle Flat (a bronze plaque exists at the convent bearing her name), Coonabarabran, Oberon, Molong, Blayney, Manildra and Portland.
In later years, she ministered at St Joseph's College at Perthville and as student testing officer for the Catholic Education Office before acting as congregational bursar, and serving on the Perthville college board and membership of the rural ministry and Justice groups.
After her "retirement" she performed significant pastoral work in the parishes of Oberon, Molong, Manildra and finally in Bathurst.
Sister Joan touched the lives of many including family, students and their parents, church parishioners, friends and her religious community and maintained contact with many of them, including some that she taught in primary school.
With her placid, compassionate and friendly demeanour, it was easy to like and love her. Her innate ability to befriend and assist those whom she met certainly fulfilled her wish to be "helping somebody".
Her funeral under COVID rules comprised a Requiem Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael McKenna on October 1 at St Joseph's Chapel at St Joseph's Heritage Centre in Perthville and interment in the adjacent Sisters of St Joseph Cemetery.
- Kevin Vidler is the brother-in-law of Sister Joan Farrell
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