Sr Marie on her 100th birthday yesterday. Photo by Gerard
She might have just turned 100, but Sr Marie Fitzpatrick
still helps other residents and staff at Little Sisters of the
Poor Sacred Heart Home, in Dunedin.
She celebrated her birthday yesterday with more than 70
family and friends.
Religious Superior Sr Bridget Donnelly said Sr Marie assisted
hospital residents at mealtimes, and sometimes set the staff
members' dining table for meals.
Sr Marie, who was imprisoned by the Nazis in France in World
War 2, gave a speech in which she said she had led a
The Little Sisters of the Poor order that gave her 81 years
of ''companionship'' ensured she was never alone, she said.
Speaking to the Otago Daily Times, she said she had
''no idea'' why she had kept such remarkably good health, but
believed ''God is very good to me''.
Asked about her assistance to other residents, she said
helping at mealtimes was not ''too strenuous''.
Community living was ideal for the elderly, as it prevented
loneliness, she said.
She greatly enjoyed her party, and said she had another
planned with younger members of her extended family.
Pope Francis had issued a certificate of celebration, and she
received ''the usual'' recognition from the Queen.
A delegation of seven nuns from Australian and New Zealand
centres, led by the Sydney-based Sister Provincial, Sr Ann
Kilmartin, attended the birthday celebration.
Sr Ann said while it was becoming less remarkable to live to
100, Sr Marie was exceptional for her vitality.
Born Anne Fitzpatrick and brought up in Arrowtown, Sr Marie
left home in 1933 to move to Dunedin to enter religious life.
She travelled to China with the order in 1936, where she was
posted to Shanghai to serve in a rest-home, which was
besieged by the invading Japanese army, following a civil war
that broke out soon after she arrived.
In 1940, she was sent to occupied France, where she was
declared a spy by the Germans and imprisoned for weeks.
After the war, she served various overseas postings, before
returning to Dunedin first in 1962 and then, following other
postings, permanently in 1975.
Retired Catholic Bishop of Dunedin Len Boyle led a Mass to
mark the occasion.
Sr Marie was ''extraordinary'' for her age, he said.