WELLS, Sister Mary Joseph (aka Nora Cecil Wells)

born: 6 June 1870, Mount Gambier Yahl Paddock, South Australia
died: 20 August 1947, Mount Gambier, South Australia

Parents:  Thomas Allen Wells and Isabella Elizabeth Kelsh
Siblings:  Charlotte Isabella, William Edward Walter, Lawrence Allen, John Compton, Sholto D’Urney, Alice Mary, Edith Adelaide,

Nora was raised in the Yahl and Penola areas before boarding at the Convent in Mount Gambier following the death of her mother. Nora and her older sister Alice (Mother Mary Agnes Paula) converted to the Catholic faith at the end of their schooling with Nora entering the Mercy Order in Adelaide in 1887. She was professed as a Sister of Mercy in 1889 and took the name of Sister Mary Joseph.

In 1896, together with a group of five other sisters, she moved into a house near the St Raphaels school at Parkside.

She returned to Mount Gambier in 1902 and became very active in support of the poor and sick in Mount Gambier, performing many acts of mercy.  As a teacher she specialised in the training of children who needed extra assistance.  She was particularly involved with boys’ classes.

Sister M. Joseph oversaw the novitiates in the Convent, a very important role.  On weekends she visited hospitals, her visits much appreciated by patients and nurses.

Sister M. Joseph was the opposite in personality to her sister Mother Agnes Paula.  She was described as a definite extrovert, with a great sense of humour.  She knew everyone in Mount Gambier and visited everyone who was sick, Catholic, or otherwise.  Sister Joseph also had a pet magpie named Joe, who seem to dislike the boarding students.

She celebrated her Golden Jubilee, receiving the Papal blessing and congratulations in recognition of 50 years of self- sacrificing in the religious

Sister Mary Joseph died at the age of 78 years and is buried in the Lake Terrace Cemetery.

Women on the Move – Mercy’s Triple Spiral page 248

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