Sr Margaret Cummins sm was born into eternal life on Monday 21st March. At her funeral on 30th March eulogies were delivered by her niece Sr Daphne McKeough rsm and by Sr Carmel Murray sm on behalf of the Marist Sisters.
Daphne Margaret Cummins was born on May 28th 1921, in Crookwell in southern NSW, the fourth of seven children of Oz and Catherine Cummins. With her four sisters and two brothers she grew up at “Cliffords Creek,” the family farm near Laggan. With numerous branches of the family on neighbouring farms, also involved in sheep raising, the extended family scene was a significant part of life. The children, particularly the three youngest girls; Daph, Joan and Grace, had a carefree and happy early childhood. With only eighteen months between them they were a close knit trio, full of pranks and energy around the house, ranging across the paddocks, climbing rocks and trees. And it seems Daph was the ring leader in planning the mischief and encouraging her sisters to carry it out. In their latter years when they met up they regaled each with memories of these prank and giggled like school girls in the retelling.
Along with the extended family, their faith was a defining feature of the family life. Catherine was a very devout Catholic, and passed on this gift to her children. They made the trip to Laggan for Mass each Sunday, and the usual features of the rosary etc shaped their formation. Their mother shared with them a strong gratitude for what God had given, and reliance on what God would provide.
That strength of faith and family ties were called on in a special way with her father Oz’s untimely death aged forty two, when Daph was only seven.Both her parents had fallen ill with a severe flu, and in those days before antibiotics her father was unable to fight the pneumonia which developed. He died after a short illness. Daph sometime shared the story of what as a young child she observed and sensed in that terrible time, of how she struggled to understand what was going on; and of the grief carried deep in her being . Read more from the family eulogy…
Five years ago this coming May, Sr Margaret’s family and her Marist Community gathered together in Marian House to celebrate her 90th Birthday. We gathered in joy and happiness with much laughter and fun. Today we gather again, this time in sadness but with Easter joy, as we farewell Margaret, who was the oldest Marist Sister in the Australian Unit at the time of her death.
Margaret was born in Laggan, near Crookwell, in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales to John and Catherine Cummins and was one of seven children. Her country roots were always strong in Margaret and her character displayed those traits we associate with country women – strength, perseverance, openness, generosity, simplicity and close family ties. The Catholic Church played a central role in the life of Margaret’s family and so it was not surprising that in 1940, at the age of 19, Margaret heard and answered the call to religious life – to the Marist Sisters at Woolwich.
On her reception as a Marist, Margaret received the name Sr. Domitilla. She was professed at the end of 1942 and was sent to Mittagong where the Boarding School from Woolwich had relocated during the War years. Though untrained, she taught in school and also studied. It was a testing time for the sisters and students . Conditions were not conducive for a convent or school. Accommodation was limited and some of the sisters and girls slept on open verandahs often in freezing conditions. However, it is remembered as a time of great happiness, lots of fun and lasting friendships. This was Margaret’s introduction to her life as a Marist Sister.
On her return to Woolwich, Margaret spent time studying and teaching in the secondary school. She even had a year as a Music Teacher. It is evident that she must have been a most versatile young woman with many talents to her bow and ready to undertake daunting tasks. We can only marvel at her adaptability and her willingness to truly live out her Marist calling in a great spirit of faith. Read more from Sr Carmel’s eulogy…
Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace. Amen