Words of Remembrance: Sr Mark LehmannPrint
Sr Mary Mark Lehmann RSC
9 January 1924 – 21 June 2021
Funeral Mass offered at Mary, Mother of Mercy Chapel, Barnet Avenue, Rookwood NSW on Thursday, 24 June 2021
Her motto: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
Sr Margaret Valentine remembers Sr M. Mark Lehmann:
We are here today to support each other and to express our deep love and gratitude for the life of Sr Mary Mark Lehmann.
Mark’s life, so well and faithfully lived, spanned 97 years. To her family she was “Norma” and to those of us who knew and loved her as a Sister of Charity, she was always known affectionately as “Mark.”
Born to Mortimor and Veronica, on January 10, 1924, she enjoyed the privilege of being the eldest sister to her siblings, Barry, Leslie, and Val. The family made its home in Lewisham, where they were surrounded by many other young families who enjoyed a similar life style, pursuits and activities.
Norma and her siblings commenced their primary education at St Thomas School, Lewisham. Mark, having won a bursary, travelled to St Vincent’s College Potts Point, to complete the final two years of her secondary education.
After Norma left school, she commenced her adult working life in the city. As a young woman, she greatly enjoyed this time with family and friends all of whom, it would appear, had quite a zest for life and all it had to offer.
She occasionally spoke to me about the years between leaving school and entering religious life. She said, that during those years, she was not conscious of thinking as to whether she should or should not enter religious life. She just did not give that possibility serious thought at all.
Typical of her energy and like many young women in those years, she was busy working, socialising with her CYO friends, playing tennis, and practicing her faith as she lived a full and meaningful life. However, at the age of 24, Norma decided that now was the time for her to enter Religious Life.
So on February 2, 1948 Norma entered the Sisters of Charity Novitiate, along with seven other young women. She was professed on August 8, 1950, and given the Religious name Sr Mary Mark. This was the name she carried throughout her Religious life.
Mark spent many years in education – she commenced teaching in the primary grades but it was quickly recognised that the primary aged children were not her best fit. She was then moved into secondary teaching where her giftedness and teaching skills were quickly recognised. She was a very popular and much loved teacher, a confidant and friend to many students and ex-students throughout NSW.
Mark’s journey through religious life – presented her with many ministries and challenges. $he was one our first Sisters to be sent on overseas mission. She went to Fiji where, as Mother Mark, she spent eight years teaching English and helping the Sisters of the Congregation of Our Lady of Nazareth to recognise and use their special gifts and talents on their educational pathway. They were very happy years for Mark and she was much loved by the Sisters.
Vocation director and formator of newly professed Sisters of Charity were other hats she wore during the 70s. Later she began a new group – “volunteer associates of the Sisters of Charity of Australia.” VASCA’s aim was to include members of all ages, faith traditions, and socio-economic groups to further the ministry of the Sisters of Charity. This group continues today.
She served the Congregation as Secretary General for many years, in partnership with her lifelong friend, Sr Claudia Doyle.
Retirement was not going to see Mark sitting around being idle. She kept abreast of Church matters, Congregational affairs and world news. And she was always on the look out to respond to someone in need, like teaching English to migrant women including some of the carers at Auburn.
While journeying with Mark over these past five years as her companion, it became apparent to me that she had many great loves: Her family, especially her sister Val (she and Val would often meet at a central location for long lunches. Later when Mark was in care, Val would visit her regularly, always bringing sandwiches for their lunch. They would then settle into a few games of scrabble – another great love of Mark’s).
She had the gift of writing comical stories for special occasions which were spot on in regard to the Sisters she wrote about. Those stories were sometimes set to music. Had she not become a Sister of Charity she often said, she would have composed the lyrics and themes for the movies.
Mark had a great sense of humour and loved to receive copies of jokes. She shared these with other residents and then they went into a folder for safe keeping.
Her Sisters in our Congregation and her ex-students also were among her great loves. She also loved to go out for lunch when she was well enough to do so (on many occasions Mark and I would set off for Lidcombe shopping centre where we would visit Woolworths in order to restock her cupboard, and then to one of the cafés for her usual Eggs Benedict.
Mark was never at a loss for something to do. With her prayers said and the rosary prayed the day would unfold for her: The newspaper would be read from cover to cover to be followed by the crossword puzzle and a read of a good novel; or listening to one of her many CDs – or a spot of television.
To the very end, Mark never failed to say thank you for what was done for her (except of course when the carers gave her a tablet – then she became stubborn and very uncooperative).
If you made her a cup of coffee she always said – now you have one, too, and sit down and tell me what’s been happening.
Many of you, present today, either here in the chapel or watching on live streaming, would have lots of stories to share with us about Mark. Your friendship and the interest and generosity you showed her were very much appreciated by her.
Mark, you will be greatly missed. Thank you for your wisdom, the example of your prayerfulness, your unfailing interest in and enthusiasm for life and the gratitude and hospitality you offered to all. Well done good and faithful friend.