We Remember Sr Mary St Pius Lennon rsm23 February, 2023
Sr Mary St Pius Lennon
18 June 1933 – 16 November 2022
On 22 November 2022, Fr Bryan Hanifin presided at the Funeral Mass for Sister Mary St Pius Lennon in Our Lady of Good Counsel Chapel, the Range, Rockhampton. Sister Mary St Pius, baptised Carmel Veronica Therese Lennon, was the youngest of Jack and Anastacia Lennon’s four children and a sister to Margaret, John and Vince. A ‘true-blue’ Barcaldine local, Pius loved to tell the story about the night she was born, 18 June 1933. It was the evening that the Barcaldine Railway Station burnt down. Because Mr Lennon was helping to fight the fire, a shearer who had just come by car from Aramac, picked up Mrs Lennon and drove her to the hospital for the imminent birth of her baby. After primary schooling at St Joseph’s School, Barcaldine, Carmel attended the Range College, Rockhampton. Before entering the Sisters of Mercy on 3 October 1950, Carmel worked as a clerk-typist in the local Main Roads Department.
At her Reception ceremony on 3 June 1951, Carmel received the religious name ‘Sr M St Pius’ in honour of the newly beatified Pope Pius X. Throughout her life, Pius developed a great devotion to her patron saint and this was evident from the framed images of Pius X and relevant prayer leaflets that were part of her personal possessions. Following her First Profession on 23 January 1954, Pius taught primary school children in many places throughout our Diocese, including St Patrick’s Primary (Mackay), North Mackay, St Patrick’s Primary (R’ton), Farleigh, Neerkol, Marian, Springsure, South Bundaberg, Barcaldine and Biloela. Always totally committed to the children, her teaching duties and usually caring for the Parish Church, Pius had her longest stays in country areas such as Marian, Farleigh, Springsure and Biloela. Pius loved her forty years of teaching in these rural towns, feeling most ‘at home’ among the families as she involved herself in local church and community activities, especially craft groups. In her own words she once wrote: ‘From my mother, a tailoress, I inherited the gift of being handy with the needle’.
Above all, Sr M St Pius formed many life-long friendships, particularly in Springsure and Biloela. It is notable that with Sisters M Mel Carmody and Gabriel Kennedy, Pius was a member of the last Mercy community in Springsure (1982). Similarly, Pius was a member of the last Mercy community in Biloela (1992) with Sisters Josephine McMahon and Marietta Ryan; she was also the last Sister of Mercy to teach at St Joseph’s School. After retiring from teaching, Pius assisted at Meteor Park Conference Centre (1993-94), then lived at Loreto Convent (1995-97). In 1998, Pius was drawn back to Biloela. There, for almost fourteen years, Pius was a valued Mercy presence, visiting the sick, the elderly and living among the people. She also took the time to enjoy some leisure activities and further develop her embroidery and hand-work talents.
In late 2013, Pius returned to Loreto Convent, Rockhampton and when in need of more care, moved to McAuley Place in March 2020. In recent months, Pius endured serious health issues and she died very peacefully at McAuley Place on 16 November 2022. The presence of her niece, her nephews and their extended families at her Funeral Mass in The Range Chapel, was an indication of the love that family members had for their ‘Aunty Carmel’. We pray that Pius will rest in peace, in the company of those she loved in this life, who have preceded her in death.