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Friday 16 November 2018

Sr Ita was gentle and unassuming

Obituary

The late Sr Ita Prendergast
The late Sr Ita Prendergast

Brendan Keane

The St John of God Sisters in Wexford were saddened at the passing of Sr Ita Prendergast who, in her 96th year, slipped quietly back home to God on Thursday, September 20.

A gentle, unassuming person, Sr Ita was very popular among her fellow-sisters and among those with whom she came into contact.

Unfortunately, her health had been debilitating for some time and she had been cared for in recent years by the sisters and staff at Sallyville House on the Newtown Road.

One of her fellow-nuns in the order commented that everyone in Sallyville House 'was saddened by her passing'.

Sr Ita was born Mary Teresa Prendergast and was originally from Kiltulla, Athenry, Co Galway.

She was born on June 18, 1923, and was the eldest of 10 children born to John and Mary Prendergast. Unfortunately, two of her siblings died as children. Sr Ita was also pre-deceased by her brother, Jimmie, and sisters, Gertrude, Brigid and Peggy.

In 1943, Mary Teresa entered the St John of God Juniorate in Ballinamore, Co Mayo, bound for the Australian Mission. Her association with Co Wexford dates back to 1946 when she made her first profession here.

As a result of World War II, Sr Ita and her companions remained in Ireland until 1947, when they boarded 'The Austeria' in Southampton and sailed for Perth, Western Australia, on a voyage took them six weeks to complete!

In Perth, Sr Ita trained in General Nursing and Midwifery and she nursed in Subiaco, Northam and Geraldton. She undertook further study in child welfare in Melbourne.

Her interest in and willingness to help others saw her move to North West Australia to work among Aboriginal people in the area of community and child health services.

In Derby and Broome she pioneered Mother and Baby programmes and she also participated in the Flying Doctor service to remote areas of the Kimberley Region.

Sr Ita retired from nursing in 1983 and returned to Perth where she continued to be involved in her local parish and in Amnesty International work.

When Sr Ita eventually returned home to Ireland she lived first in Ballymote before eventually coming to Wexford in 2010 to receive nursing care.

One of her fellow St John of God sisters commented: 'Ita was a caring, committed member of the congregation, who was always interested and involved in community issues and church life.'

Blessed with a patient, caring disposition Sr Ita was a gentle and gracious lady who was loved by all with whom she ministered.

She was particularly close to the Aboriginal people in Australia and her love and respect for them was reciprocated.

A great letter writer Sr Ita was also very learned and was an avid reader. Until her health began to decline she also kept in close contact with family and friends.

She is survived by her brothers Martin [in Athenry], Dominic and Ray [in Boston], nieces, nephews, extended family and large circle of friends in Ireland, America and Australia.

Sr Ita's Requiem Mass was celebrated by Rev Con Kenneally CSsR at Sallyville House, after which her remains were laid to rest in the convent cemetery.

May her gentle soul rest in peace.

Wexford People

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