WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Sr Joan Manson celebrates her 90th birthday

WelCom July 2019:

Ethne Maher

Sr Joan Manson (centre), her sister Margaret Walsh and her brother Brian Manson celebrating her 90th birthday in St Mary’s Parish with family and friends.

A large group of family, Sisters of Mercy and friends gathered in Palmerston North to celebrate Sr Joan Manson’s 90th birthday on 28 May this year.

Sr Joan was born in Whanganui where she spent her childhood years as well as in Palmerston North. After leaving school she worked as a dental assistant in Whanganui and on joining the Sisters of Mercy in 1951 she moved to Wellington.

During the early years of Sr Joan’s formation she trained as a teacher and returned to Palmerston North in 1954. She taught in Palmerston North’s three Catholic Primary Schools – St Mary’s, St James and Our Lady of Lourdes for several years. As a foundation teacher at St James, when resources were scarce, Sr Joan’s ‘monkey puppet’ became famous, teaching young children to make the Sign of the Cross, the Road Rules and helping them with reading. Sr Joan also taught in Westport, Blenheim and Wellington. During her teaching years she saw many changes in education.

Siblings Joan (centre) Margaret and Brian spent their childhood in Whanganui and Palmerston North.Photos: Supplied

From teaching Sr Joan moved into leadership roles within the Sisters of Mercy and the wider Catholic community. She completed training in Spiritual Direction and Liturgy in America and Australia, which she put to good use at the Star of the Sea Retreat and Conference Centre in Wellington.

Sr Joan moved back to Palmerston North and teamed up with Rex Begley to run ‘Retreats in Daily Life’ in the Diocese, which involved travel to Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki areas. Her influence has been felt in a large parts of New Zealand and through her membership of a local Rebus Club and the St Mary’s Parish Community she is still touching people’s lives today.

Bishop Peter Cullinane presented Sr Joan with a Papal Blessing at the lunch held for her birthday. Her brother Brian proposed a toast and Sr Joan replied with some help from her monkey puppet. You could have heard a pin drop!