by Sr ELIZABETH SNEDDEN,RSCJ
Sr Fleurette Caldwell’s parents met as Kiwi casualty and French nurse during the Great War and returned to raise a large family in Karori, Wellington.

Sr Fleurette Caldwell, RSCJ
Sr Fleurette Caldwell, RSCJ

When her mother was asked how she had the courage, knowing no English, to leave home and country, she would reply “Ah, you do not know what loff means!” Fleur’s two older sisters became Sr Jean Caldwell, RSCJ, and Sr Theresa, DOLC.
Educated at Erskine College and trained at Loreto Hall, Fleur discovered a gift for teaching that carried her merrily through 26 years in parish schools in Island Bay, Christchurch and Sadleir in New South Wales. In 1959 she was a foundress in the “absurdly austere” conditions and makeshift classrooms of Christ the King, Burnside.
“The teaching life was varied, exciting, challenging,” she wrote. “I loved the children, the families, the parishes, and I was able to use my creative gifts to the full.” She could
charm the parish priest. Her classroom was always a wonder to behold.
During the somewhat bewildering “changes” in the Church and in religious life in the 1970s, she retrained for work in Catholic Social Services and later in the Catholic Education
Office, 1982-1993. She gained a surprising number of certificates, from catechetics to counselling, from first aid to upholstery.
She zoomed round the poorer areas of Wellington South on her Nifty-Fifty scooter, visiting
the elderly and the housebound. She began “Golden Wheels”, a mobile vegetable van.
“Nun Starts Vege Run” proclaimed the press.
She was interviewed on radio about family counselling and care of the elderly.
Finally, at Massey, in Auckland, from 1993 to 2009, she became what she called a “general
practitioner,” a Westie living a strong prayer and community life, a tireless citizen and
parish worker — St Vincent de Paul foodbank, Citizens Advice Bureau, Communion to the sick, Marriage Encounter, teaching English to migrants.
Asked if all the workshops and conferences of the eighties and nineties had changed her life, she said: “Not really. But my attitude has changed… I trust the Lord more, deepening
my union with the Heart of Jesus… I go out to people with more confidence and purpose, fearlessly showing my values and what it means to be a religious.
“Perhaps in today’s world where there is so much insecurity, feverish activity and suffering, people can be helped by someone who is uncluttered, at peace with herself and her
God.”
Sr Fleurette Caldwell, RSCJ, 1927- 2015: May her loveable soul rest in the joy of the Lord.

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