Sr Ita was gen­tle and unas­sum­ing

Wexford People - - NEWS OBITUARIES -

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.

The late Sr Ita Pren­der­gast.

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