by Jeff Dillon

Residents of the Sacred Heart Home and Hospital run by the Little Sisters of the Poor in Brockville, Dunedin, were treated to a special visit in early May when Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae arrived. 

General Sir Gerry Mateparae visits Sr Marie, centre, at Sacred Heart Home and Hospital, Dunedin. Photo credit: Government House
General Sir Gerry Mateparae visits Sr Marie, centre, at Sacred Heart Home and Hospital, Dunedin. Photo credit: Government House

The Governor-General, while interested in the lives of residents, was on a special mission. He was there to meet a special treasure there, Sr Marie of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Sr Marie, born Annie Fitzpatrick, in Arrowtown, celebrated her 102nd birthday on April 22. Sir Jerry had sent her a birthday card at the time, but as he was visiting Dunedin a few weeks later decided to fit in a visit to pass on his best wishes in person.

Sir Jerry had met Sr Marie on August 29, 2012, when she had attended the ceremony at which she was awarded her Queen’s Service Medal. He had been impressed at the time by Sr Marie’s spirit and her dedication.

As a birthday present, Sr Marie received a framed photo of Sir Jerry meeting Pope Francis in 2014. She was delighted with the gift and thought it was “wonderful” for the Governor-General to visit the home.

Afterwards Sir Jerry spoke to a gathering of residents and staff about how inspiring Sr Marie was in her devotion to her vocation. He was delighted to find out when he first met her in 2012 that she still helped the elderly, despite many of the residents being younger than
her by quite a few years.

Although offering Sr Marie his best wishes was the main focus of the visit, Sir Jerry also took time to meet residents and greet a few of the more senior ones, including Jean Millar (102), Rena Clark (101), and Arthur Cook (100).

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