Montstra te Esse Matrem” – translated – “Show Thyself a Mother”
Sr Theo died peacefully at Calvary Healthcare Bethlehem on 12 November 2022.
Sr Theophane, known by all as Theo was born in Stanhope Victoria on 20th May 1930, to William and Martha Forster, deceased, and was a loving sister to Helen and brother Jim.
After leaving school in 1948 Theo worked as a clerk before entering the Little Company of Mary at Lewisham Novitiate in September 1954.
She made her final vows on the 11th October 1960 and took as her Motto “Montstra te Esse Matrem” – translated – “Show Thyself a Mother” a motto she lived out in her ministry to others. Theo’s faith journey was one in which she had a deep conviction and belief in the God who had called her to the Little Company of Mary.
After completing her General Nurse training in 1959 at Lewisham, Theo worked for a short time in the general wards before she attended the NSW School of Medical Records Librarians where she attained a Medical Records Certificate. She then worked in the medical records department of Lewisham hospital until 1968, before returning to her hometown of Melbourne where she was appointed the Bursar for Bethlehem Hospital until 1971.
Theo’s ministry was very important to her, so evident when she was transferred to Hobart to undertake District Nursing. This was a work that Theo loved, she was always available to those she cared for and was generous with her time for the many that she visited on her daily rounds. In recent weeks before her death she told me in a moment of sharing, how much she had loved those that she had cared for in those years of district nursing.
She spent 25 years caring for the vulnerable and those in most need on the St Vincent de Paul District Nursing Service in both Hobart, and then continuing this ministry when she was transferred to Somerset. She returned to Melbourne in 1996 to undertake Community Health Pastoral Visiting and later Pastoral Care at Bethlehem Hospital. Completing her time in Pastoral Care she then became the sacristan at Bethlehem Hospital Chapel.
Theo was a woman who knew what she wanted – one could describe her as unique. She was quite determined and valued her independence but was also ever the realist and made the decision to give up the car and then, more recently with the advice of her doctors, accepted the decision to go into care saying that she realised it was time.
Theo was an intelligent woman who had a very retentive memory, well read and with a keen interest in the world around her both locally and globally. She could converse on almost every topic and let’s not forget those many crosswords that she would do every day in the company of loving friends.
Theo was an LCM woman who discovered her own way of living her LCM life – this may not have always been conventional, but no one could doubt her deep faith and conviction to her LCM vocation. Some years ago, when asked “what does the world need of us as contemplative women of the gospel” she wrote: I believe the most important thing in our vowed life is to be a healing presence through our prayer and ministry and to live fully our LCM identity and mission in our small part of the world each day.
She expressed her LCM spirit of compassion, prayer and presence through her interaction with people and taking an interest in what they were doing. She always had time to give to others and she never forgot a kindness that others did for her, especially her neighbours.
She nurtured her spirituality in her own way and continued to live out her expression of the spirit and charism of our Founder Mary Potter. Her journey had not always been easy, and she has stood with Mary on Calvary during her lifetime.
It meant a great deal that she was able to return to Calvary Healthcare Bethlehem for palliative care on the last part of her journey.
And so we say farewell Theo – your presence among us will be missed, may you rest in peace and in God’s love.
(Taken from the funeral eulogy by Sr Kathleen Cotterill, Region Leader)