Sr Norma Wood sm died peacefully at St Anne’s Nursing home on Thursday 31st December 2015. At her funeral held on Friday 8th January 2016 eulogies were delivered by Norma’s niece, Mrs Penny Noonan, and Sr Julie Brand sm.
Norma Alice Wood was born at home at 165 Westgarth Street, Northcote, Melbourne, on the 22nd August, 1920. She was the third daughter of John Walter Wood and his wife Catherine, who had been a Fitzgerald before her marriage. Norma (who very early in her life somehow was given the nickname of “Daudy” by her father) had two older sisters: Kathleen Alma who was 4½ and Evelyn May who was 2½ when she was born. The family was completed with the birth of John Fitzgerald who was born when Norma was 3.
All the siblings spoke of a happy childhood which was filled with the ups and downs of family life. All of them, with the possible exception of Ev, were blessed with a strong sense of humour and a good sense of the ridiculous which created a home full of fun and a lot of laughter.
John Walter, who was always known by his second name, Walter, had started his working life in the Commonwealth Department of Treasury and transferred to the Commonwealth Bank when it was set up in c1912. As a bank officer he was transferred to Sydney sometime in the mid-twenties to work in Head Office in Martin Place.
Our grandmother found a house in Vaucluse, which was close to some of her cousins, and was keen to live there. However our Grandfather had found the house in Rosebery Street in Mosman, which was to be the family home for more than 40 years. It seems a major consideration in his choice was that he thought the trip to work by boat was very attractive and even after the Harbour Bridge was built he continued to travel by boat.
The local church, Sacred Heart, Mosman, was an important part of the family’s life. The children went to school there – the girls to the convent, which was run by the Mercy nuns, and John to Marist Brothers, Mosman. It was an era of Sodalities and the Holy Name Society. There was also an active St. Vincent de Paul Society, which was very busy during the Depression years. The Wood children grew up in a friendly neighbourhood with many friends of all faiths. On completion of her schooling at the height of the Depression, Norma was fortunate to obtain work as a book-keeper in a millinery business. Read more…
On the day of her reception as a Marist Sister, 17th March 1947, Norma wrote in prayer: “This day that I have been longing for has now come. I aspired to wear Our Lady’s Blue and desired to give myself to You, the sweet Spouse of my soul. I know I am not worthy to wear Our Lady’s Habit but, O Jesus, since You have called me to the Religious life, will You not give me all the graces I need to be a worthy Marist, a true blue Marist, a good child of Your most Holy Mother?” We give thanks today that Norma’s prayer was answered. Called by gracious choice, she responded with the whole of her being and God did indeed give her all the graces needed to be a true blue Marist.
Norma came to know the Marist Sisters through her visits to Merrylands after her close friend, Patricia de Coek, entered the Novitiate there. Norma described Pat as a ‘real inspiration’ and said, “I couldn’t help noticing how serene and happy she was. There was an atmosphere of peace and prayer about the place. I began to feel that there were more important things than dancing and tennis and swimming etc. ……or was it that God and His love became more important to me than these other things? Somehow within my heart I knew He was the only One for me.” And so began what Norma described as her “Love Affair” with God.
For over 67 years Norma lived her Marist life in faithful love, doing all “for the great glory of God and the honour of Mary”. In her early years, known as Sr. Evangelist, she ministered in Primary Schools in Australia and New Zealand, later taking up the role of Provincial Bursar for Oceania. In this administrative role Norma gave assistance to bursars in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. She was so supportive and encouraging, initiating many of us into the complexities of accounting and bookkeeping, always with patience and ready humour. Norma was often appointed Local Superior or Local Bursar, serving the community with kindness and compassion, laughter and joy. Many stories are told of Norma delighting others with her great sense of fun, her comical acting, and ability to tell a good yarn. Norma loved engaging with people, and her gifts found ready expression in pastoral ministry, where her acceptance and understanding of others was so greatly appreciated. It was with much sadness that Norma set aside her pastoral work in 2004 when her health began to fail. She did not find it easy to move from active parish ministry in Laverton to a quieter life in Marian House. However, as with all her appointments, Norma accepted this move in a spirit of great faith. Read more…