IT is with deep sadness that Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor has announced the death of Sister Marjorie (Patricia) Byron oln in her 68th year of religious life. Born at Five Dock, NSW, in 1929, Sr Patty was educated by the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the ‘Brown Josephites’) at St Francis Xavier, Arncliffe. Patty and her sister, Marie, were in the Theresians in their youth. After leaving school, Patty trained and worked as an office clerk for several years.
Eager to do more with her life, Sr Patty learned about the work of Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor and entered the congregation in 1954, a week before her 25th birthday. She completed her nursing training at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Hospital, Randwick, and began a long and fulfilling vocation serving the sick poor in Sydney and Brisbane.
Sr Patty was fortunate to have known four of Eileen’s foundation nurses: Srs Julia Cooney, Ellen ‘Nell’ Fitzgerald, Agnes ‘May’ McGahey and Theresa ‘Cissie’ McLaughlin, as well as co-founder, Father Edward ‘Ted’ McGrath msc.
In a memoir collected in 2014, Sr Patty spoke of the deep devotion of the sisters to the sick poor, to each other and the congregation’s co-founders. “I particularly loved Eileen’s words that a dear OLN companion (Sr Kathleen Flannery) sent to me when I first entered: ‘Our love here will not be satisfied, so it will bring us nearer to that true love of God that in this Work you will gain, and I will gain, in loving it. This is all the use I am’.”
She went on to reflect on Father Founder's words: “We all heard him say so many times, ‘For the Poor only in their own homes’, and that is the great summary of our work as Nurses”. Her love for Father Founder and his writings of many hundreds of verses about Our Lady, The Sacred Heart, St Joseph and Saints was palpable. Sr Patty also loved the Holy Family and a prayer that was always on her lips:
Heart of Jesus, I adore you;
Heart of Mary, I implore you;
Heart of Joseph, pure and just;
in these three Hearts, I place my trust.
Sr Patty lived out her vocation with great fidelity and care. She would do all she could to help the sick poor and was a frequent visitor to Mission Home at Redfern. She had a particular interest in palliative care, preparation of the dead and the Prisons Ministry.
Sr Patty died peacefully at St Joseph’s Aged Care Facility, Kensington, on Saturday, April 30, 2022, following a long illness. She was accompanied by family members, friends and her companions from Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor and the Sisters of Charity during her journey home. She was very ready to meet her Maker and she would have met Him with all the joy with which she lived her life. Sr Patty was pre-deceased by her parents, James and Marjorie Byron, and her sister, Marie.
A Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated by Fr Phil Hicks msc and Fr Pat Mara msc on Thursday, 12 May 2022, at St Brigid’s Church, Coogee. Fr Pat spoke of the time he spent accompanying Sr Patty on the District when he was a Postulant. He remarked on her profound simplicity, her love for the poor and her acceptance of, and respect for, the sick poor in their homes. He recalled her sound advice and joy-filled approach to sometimes very difficult situations.
Sr Patty was farewelled by members of her extended family, life-long friends, nurses who worked with her in Kings Cross, nurses who gave many of their youthful years to performing the work of Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor; her companion sisters from Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor and the Sisters of Charity; and parishioners of St Brigid’s, Coogee. It was a happy day.
Visitors to Our Lady’s Home after the funeral and interment included Sr Patty’s great nieces, Leonie and Paula Tierney (standing left), cousin Jan and Peter Mears (standing middle), cousin Patsy (sitting right) and Allan Phillips (standing right) and friends Rick Goodwin (standing second from right), Georgie Jones (sitting left) and Margaret Sutherland (sitting middle).
Sr Patty was laid to rest at Randwick Cemetery with 24 Sister Companions who have gone before us and now know ‘The Secret’ of our Eternal Home in Heaven. Thank you, Sr Patty, for your fidelity to Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor and may you rest in the arms of our Maker and His Blessed Mother.
Contributed by Sister Margaret Mary Birgan oln