Sr Philomena Hall sm was called to eternal life on Wednesday 2nd December 2020.
Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord.
May perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.
We extend our prayerful sympathy to the Marist Sisters in Australia and to Sr Philomena’s family. the following Words of Remembrance were delivered by Sr Julie Brand Philo’s funeral held at Holy Name of Mary Church Hunters Hill on 14th December.
Sr Philomena died very peacefully at St. Anne’s Nursing Home, Hunters Hill, on the morning of 2nd December. When news of her death began to filter through the Nursing Home, the Staff were very saddened, telling us what a beautiful lady she was, how she never complained and how much they would miss her gentle presence.
Sr Philomena – Margaret Patricia May Hall – affectionately known to us as Philo, was born on 1st May 1925 in Gloucester, NSW, the second youngest of six children. The family moved to Belmore, Sydney, in 1933 but Philo never lost her great love for the Australian countryside. She completed her Primary Schooling at St. Joseph’s, Belmore, and Secondary Schooling at St. Brigid’s, Marrickville, before beginning work. Philo had happy memories of this period of her life, recalling joining the Parish Youth Group – a very united, active group that met at least twice a week and enjoyed dancing, socializing, sporting activities and working together on Parish projects. It was while she was participating in a Parish mission that Philo began to recognize God’s invitation to Religious Life. While resisting at first, Philo grew in readiness to accept the call. In a reflection she wrote that, after prayer and spiritual accompaniment, she was ready to say to God: “Whatever you want Lord, I want”.
Philo was received into the Marist Sisters’ Novitiate in Merrylands and made her First Profession on 8th September 1949. The following year she began her Teacher Training at St Joseph’s, Mount Street, North Sydney, qualifying as an Infant and Primary Teacher. Thus began her journey in the apostolate of Education, which spanned over 40 years, and through which she touched the lives of children and their families in New Zealand, Fiji and Australia. Philo took up positions of leadership in Schools, and was always ready to assist other teachers and offer guidance and support.
For approximately 32 years Philo was on mission in Fiji, teaching for many of those years in towns of the western district and in the Yasawa Islands. The Sisters of Fiji and her ex-students remember Philo as an excellent teacher, especially of infants – dedicated, kind, generous and hard-working – one who knew how to encourage her students, especially the slower readers – and who was always ready to give a helping hand to others, children and teachers alike. Philo was indeed loved by the Sisters and people of Fiji. Ex-students, fellow teachers, parents and friends all around Fiji have been praying for Philo and giving thanks for her life of service in Mary’s Name. Philo’s gift of herself to Fiji was also very much supported by her family, whose generosity helped the mission of our Sisters there and the further growth of our Congregation in Fiji. In particular the Hall family remember with affection Sr Maria Goretti Satoqi, to whom they opened their home in Belmore and provided a warm welcome when Maria Goretti came to Sydney in the mid-60’s to enter our Marist Novitiate. Goretti is united with us today, saying once again “Vinaka Vaka Levu” to Philo and the Hall family.
Philo settled back in Australia in the mid-90’s and was soon to begin a ministry of care and service in Marian House, Woolwich. For many years she worked tirelessly in attending to the needs of the elderly Sisters, taking up the work of local Bursar and supporting the community. Before we restructured Marian House in the early years of 2000, it was often Philo who showered Sisters and attended to their personal care. She always showed love for the frail Sisters and would visit the Nursing Home at St. Anne’s every Sunday morning to spend time with our Sisters in residence there.
Philo was an excellent Bursar who had a great gift for figures. She was competent in complex calculations such as wages and superannuation payments, well organised and meticulous. I believe her gifts and talents were also readily identified in other members of the Hall family. Philo often spoke of her two brothers – Joe and Ben and their families, her sister Mary (who joined the Sisters of the Good Samaritan) and brother Trevor (a Christian Brother). She loved her family and enjoyed spending time with them, particularly holidaying in Ballina.
It was no secret that Philo was very determined – some would say stubborn – and stood her ground firmly and resolutely. She could be fiery at times, and left you in no doubt about her stance on a matter in question. Philo was quite a fierce competitor too. Sisters recall that she loved a game of cards and knew every card that had been played in a game of 500. Woe betide you if you were her partner and had not kept track of the hands played! When Philo moved to St. Anne’s Nursing Home, she always participated in activities and particularly enjoyed Bingo. Once again she was very well organised and it quite delighted me to see her arrange the markers in right order ready to cover the numbers when called. She was often the winner!
Philo took delight in nature, enjoying animals, birds, flowers and trees. She loved the stars, the moon and the ocean. One of her joys in latter years was to sit in the car by the water eating ice-cream and watching the pelicans. Philo was also artistic and would join in art and craft activities, colouring and decorating.
Philo – we thank God for you and Mary’s gracious choice of you. It was your fervent desire to do great things for God in Mary’s way. You have followed in Her footsteps and been faithful unto death. Like Mary you prayed, “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord”. You have surely done God’s Will and God now welcomes you into eternity. Rest in peace.