The Sisters invite you to share your story about Suzanne Aubert.

Did you have a family member or friend who might have met Suzanne, or whose life was significantly impacted by her wonderful works?

Would you like to share with us, why you think Suzanne should be recognised as New Zealand’s first saint.

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Your Story

Sister Annette Green, 22 February 2015

Lasting Influence for Generations

It all began with my mother Sarah Punch who met Mother Aubert as a child.  She would often speak of Mother Aubert and her connections with the family.The Punch family were early pioneer's in  Rateihi and Ohakune area were they had saw mills and settled on a farm.  There were only three European woman in the area at that time and the only route to travel was up the Wanganui River on the steamer and then on horse back to Rateihi.   When John and Rose Punch arrived they had three Young children and for the birth of the next five children Rose (nee Rogers) had to travel to her home, a farm on the Rangatiki Line Palmerston North.  On the journeys up and down the River they frequently met Mother Aubert and my mother believed Mother Aubert nursed her on her first journey as a tiny new born baby 1901.Five more children were added to the Punch family all born in Rateihi a developing little settlement where John Punch built shops a Boarding House run by his mother Catherine Punch who employed some of the girls, as Mother Aubert wanted her to prepare them for life after the Home.   My mother spoke of the medicines her father purchased from Mother Aubert for influenza and colds.  He was able to provide the Sisters with enough fire wood to keep them going through the cold wet winters.   Later, on his trips to Wellington he was introduced to the Homes there and sent Rail trucks of both wood and coal every winter.  My mother as a little girl and one of her sisters often stayed at Island Bay with the O'Reagan's who were family friends.  On such a visit she went up to see Mother Aubert at the Island Bay Home after it was Opened. The practice was carried on by my Uncles and while my family were staying with my Uncle Pierce we went to Jerusalem to pick cherries from the cherry orchard and we called on the Sisters, I was eleven at the time.  These stories and the great regard my uncles and all the family had for Mother Aubert, even keeping her letters, influenced my desire to follow her and so I enter the Sisters of Compassion in 1954 just over sixty years ago.   Sr. Annette Marie Green

Mrs B. Spellman, 24 November 2014

Sister Aloysius wrote about Suzanne Aubert to her sister Mrs B. Spellman.

‘When I entered the Home of Compassion in 1907, Mother Aubert was already seventy three years old, but still retained full use of her reason, her memory, and her fund of anecdotes were simply amazing. She was one of the wittiest and most charming of French women. All sorts and conditions of people from the Governor and his Lady to the poorest, was proud and glad to have a word with her. She was always the same, utterly unconscious of what people said or thought. If she was busy with hands and apron dirty, she would trot into the parlour to the most distinguished visitors. Human respect was entirely lost on her, and yet people loved her.

Pat Lawlor, 10 November 2014

Memory of Suzanne Aubert by Pat Lawlor

According to the fugitive two-line-a-day-entry diary I kept as a boy, my first encounter with Mother Mary Joseph Aubert was on September 13, 1903. I remember the occasion almost as though it had happened yesterday. I was at the time an altar boy at the old Saint Mary of the Angels’ Church in Boulcott Street Wellington. One evening as I was on my way to serve at Benediction I saw the figure of a nun sitting on the wooden steps leading up to the Church. She looked frail, pathetic and tired; her lips were moving as the work-worn fingers threaded her rosary beads. As I was about to pass she opened her eyes and looked at me. They were peaceful far-away eyes. Suddenly the eyes were lit up with such a beautiful smile and if I remember rightly she asked me to say a prayer for her.
After Benediction I looked for her again but she had gone but in the dim light I saw something glistening on the steps where she had been sitting. It was a neat pile of half-crowns! I took them to the Presbytery to old Father McNamara. When I explained, I think he said something about Mother Aubert “having a windfall that day”. As a matter of fact it was not unusual for the famous old lady to be halted by passers-by and given money for her precious charges. This seemed to happen always when she needed more help. 

Judge Blair, 10 November 2014

Judge Blair

During the last year of Suzanne Aubert’s life 1921-1926, he represented Sir Charles Skerrett as her legal advisor and most confidential friend.Speaking to Mother Cecilia in March, 1930, Judge Blair said, “Mother Aubert had struck him as being possessed of one of the greatest minds he had known”.  She had a great mind, occupied with great thoughts, so that she was mentally unfitted to take in small views and petty motives. Her mind simply could not take them in”. Judge Blair stated that he had known only one or two in New Zealand with what he described as the ‘greatest of mind’ he had observed in Mother Aubert. It made no difference to her whether she was speaking to one or to 10,000 persons, she was unconscious of numbers. She said what she wanted to say regardless of who was there:  Things of that kind did not influence her; they could not for she was unaware of them. Her mind was above such things.

Mrs Dempsey, 10 November 2014

Mrs Dempsey

My first meeting with Mother Aubert was when she was living at the Meanee Mission Station, Hawke’s Bay. Most of her time then was spent among the Māoris, often riding long distances from daylight to dark attending to their needs, both bodily and spiritual. For her own comfort she cared nothing, a crust of bread carried in her pocket often being her sole food for the day.
The Māoris she attended to, both body and soul, but to the Pakeha also she was ever a friend in need. Many cases of her kindness and charity, to say nothing of her skill, are recalled to my mind. In one case, a man named Joseph Jefferies was seriously ill and the doctors had given up all hope of him when Mother Aubert took the case in hand. The result was that the man was cured and lived for many years after.

Ida Grace Willis, 10 November 2014

Miss Ida Grace Willis

As I remember her in 1913-1914. She was the mist marvellous and famous woman I was ever privileged to meet, and the most lovable, gentle and courteous character, full of wisdom, grace and charm and real Christian charity. No one coming in contact with her could withstand her charm and the aura of goodness which prevailed about her, and yet so full of fun and wit.