Vale Sister Margaret Baker rsj 1929-2014

Sister Margaret Baker (formally Sister Philomena) died peacefully at St. Catherine’s Aged Care, Bathurst on 4th September, 2014 in her 64th year of Religious profession.  

Born in Murrumburrah on 8th May1929, Margaret was one of six children born to James Baker and Mary Victoria Baker (nee Toner). Margaret, who was an only daughter had five brothers who were all very fond of their beloved sister. Her father worked on the railway, which meant the family were often on the move, making their home in various parts of the state. Margaret’s early schooling was completed in many different places around NSW such as Rankin Springs, Mercy Convent in Junee, State Schools at Ardglen & Kentucky and St. Joseph’s in Uralla. Margaret’s secondary schooling was completed as a boarder at St. Joseph’s College at Perthville, where her talent for music was nurtured to the fullest. She passed her Leaving Certificate in 1946 and spent the following year at home in Dungog, where she gained employment as a cash register operator until she entered the Novitiate at Perthville on 19th March 1948. 

Margaret continued to study piano, violin, singing, musical perception, theory and harmony gaining the Associate of Music Australia (A Mus A) in piano in 1949. After her first profession on 12th October 1950, Margaret began teaching music both privately and in the classroom, including preparing school concerts. She was also involved with music in the Liturgy in the parishes where she ministered within the Bathurst Diocese - places such as Cargo, Canowindra, Coonabarabran, Perthville, Gilgandra, Molong, Oberon and many more. 

Margaret thoroughly enjoyed her renewal year at Assumption Institute in Melbourne in 1977 and went on a decade later to study at the Catholic Theological Union at Hunters Hill, graduating with a Bachelor of Theology in 1989. In her later years, Margaret ministered as a pastoral presence in the Parishes of Coonabarabran, Blayney and Dunedoo. In 1998, she retired to the Emmaus community in Bathurst until ill health necessitated her transition into aged care. Margaret loved art and was a prayerful person. Margaret always remained vitally interested in the sisters and in Congregational affairs. She expressed her desire for the fusion of the Perthville Sisters with the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, prayed earnestly for this during the sisters’ discernment process and rejoiced at the chapter decision.

Margaret was, for the last four years, a resident at St. Catherine’s Aged Care in Bathurst. Prior to that Margaret had spent seven years at St. Anne’s Home, Perthville. A deeply spiritual woman, Margaret bore her frailty, illness and incapacity with patience and perseverance. Throughout her life Margaret lived the Josephite charism with simplicity and gentleness. May she rest in peace.


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