Almost nun left

THE LAST remaining Good Samaritan Sister Joy Edwards is leaving Queanbeyan signalling the end of the Order of St Benedict in the local area.

It's the end of 134 years of work from the sisters who first came to Queanbeyan in 1879 and made their mark on the town that can still be seen today. 

One of the most notable would be St Benedict's Convent, now known as "Benedict House".

Sister Joy said she first had the desire to become a nun when she was seven-years-old entering the convent as soon as she was eligible at 17-years-old."I entered the convent as soon as I was old enough for them to take me," she said.

She taught for 40 years around different parts of Australia and then moved into social work which included helping the Indigenous community in Charters Towers, Queensland.

"We are a contemplative but active order," she said. 

"You look at the sign of the times, where the help is needed. First it was education but now we are moving more into social work."

Sister Joy has been in the Queanbeyan for the past 13 years and said she enjoyed visiting various community organisations and running a prayer group in town. 

But she decided now was the time to move on before it all got a bit too much for her. "Age is against me, I'm almost 90," she said. 

"If I leave it too late it'll be too hard to pack up, it's a daunting situation ... "

One upside of the big move will be reuniting with 24 of her fellow Good Samaritan sisters who will travel back to Queanbeyan to say goodbye.

On Sunday, there will be a Mass of Thanksgiving at St Raphael's Church followed by a farewell ritual.They will also turn the sod on new classrooms and a community centre at St Gregory's Primary School to be named after the first Superior at St Benedict's Convent, Mother Lucy Nihill.

There are currently 256 nuns in the Order of St Benedict across Australia, Japan, Philippines and Kiribati."We are very bonded as a community ... it's important we keep together and feel connected," she said.

Sister Joy said she is looking forward to her new home at Bateau Bay as she will be closer to family.She said she's looking forward to the warmer temperatures after more than a decade of cold winters in Queanbeyan.

"Frost is no good for old bones," she said. 

"I won't be putting my feet up all the time. Something will crop up, new things do all the time. You just wait and see, don't step straight into it just sit back, watch and see what and where the need is."

The Mass of Thanksgiving will be held at St Raphael's Church on Sunday, February 10 at 9am.

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