Pages

Friday, March 23, 2007

Mother Mary Garson



The Times Obituary section has a full obituary on Mother Mary Garson who turned one care home in Brighton into a Benedictine congregation with over 200 Sisters and 27 homes for the elderly and needy in three continents.

Garson worked as a psychologist before converting to Catholicism in her early thirties. In the 1950s she used Church money to buy a local house to care for the infirm. The house became a congregation, which adopted the rule of St Benedict in 1978, with Garson as its first Prioress-General. Garson oversaw the establishment of foundations in south Asia in the 1970s and Africa in the 1990s.

Mother Mary Garson was the foundress and first Prioress-General of the Sisters of Our Lady of Grace and Compassion, a Benedictine congregation with over 200 Sisters running 27 homes for the elderly and needy in three continents.

Garson worked as a psychologist before converting to Catholicism in her early thirties. In the 1950s she used Church money to buy a local house to care for the infirm. The house became a congregation, which adopted the rule of St Benedict in 1978, with Garson as its first Prioress-General. Garson oversaw the establishment of foundations in south Asia in the 1970s and Africa in the 1990s.

Mother Mary Garson was the foundress and first Prioress-General of the Sisters of Our Lady of Grace and Compassion, a Benedictine congregation with over 200 Sisters running 27 homes for the elderly and needy in three continents.

She was born in Aberdeenshire in 1921, educated at Aberdeen University, where she took an MA degree in Psychology, and was commissioned in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force during the Second World War. After leaving the WAAF, she worked as an industrial psychologist with Philips before joining East Sussex Child Guidance Clinics as an educational psychologist.

As a “reluctant” Catholic convert in her early thirties, Garson visited a half-blind lady who was trying to look after her blind sister and an elderly friend, both of whom were bed-ridden. Convinced that wider action was needed, she secured £800 from her priest to get a mortgage for a local house in Brighton.

When the first house was opened, Mary Garson was still going out to work. The growth in spirituality, with the desire for stability and the strength to be gained from a dedicated Community life, together with the advice of the Bishop of Southwark, Cyril Cowderoy, led the group in 1959 to plan for the foundation of a Religious Congregation.

The need for direction and deepening of family life led the congregation to follow the Rule of St Benedict in 1978.

From 1974, the congregation spread overseas beginning with a house in Sri Lanka. In 1975 Garson visited India and was shaken by the extent of poverty. There are now five foundations in India, including a school of nursing and farms.

Work started in Africa in 1990 with a convent at Mundika, Kenya, followed by a home for the destitute elderly. The most recent expansion was in 2003 with the opening of the first house in Uganda, where the sisters are engaged in schools, nursery education and parish work.

Mother Mary was awarded the Papal Cross, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, for services to the church and the Papacy in 2002, and an appointed MBE in 2004.

Mother Mary Garson, nun, was born on October 3, 1921. She died on March 8, aged 85