Fanad Head, County Donegal, stretches bravely into the swirling Atlantic Ocean at the Northern tip of Ireland.
Into this land of stunning views was born in 1913, Brigid McGinley, daughter of Mary Friel and Michael McGinley.
Her only brother Michael was born in Fremantle where the family lived for many years.
She was baptised in St Finian’s Church in Fanad, County Donegal and was confirmed in St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth on May 24, 1926.
Brigid was a trained teacher and entered the Sisters of Mercy in Victoria Square in 1935, receiving the name Sr Mary Rosarii.
In her ministry of Catholic education in both primary and secondary schools, she displayed excellence and competence.
Beginning in 1935, she taught at Victoria Square (now Mercedes College), East Perth, Victoria Park, Bassendean, Queens Park, Attadale, Harvey, Armadale, Toodyay and Bunbury, completing her teaching ministry in 1981.
She taught in those years when there were no government grants and the financial constraints of the times impinged on Sr Mary Rosarii.
She quickly proved herself to be an excellent and very competent teacher, and to help support the community – which of course lived as simply as the families who sent their children to the schools – was called on to undertake extra duties in order to balance the books.
This hardworking, dedicated Sister of Mercy at some time wrote: “In my early years of teaching the school money was practically nil.
To make up for that minus quality, I taught music and speech before school, during lunch period, after school dismissal and after tea until 8.45pm during the weekdays, and on Saturdays from 9am until 5pm.
“Very large numbers in grouped classes robbed the weaker pupils of extra help and concentration on the part of the teacher.”
In spite of the difficulties of these days, Sr Mary Rosarii loved teaching.
She said: “The chalk and the blackboard and happiness in the eyes of the trier was forever a sheer delight”.
When transferred to Harvey, Sr Mary Rosarii taught some of the many children of the Italian migrant families who had settled there and her manner of teaching gave them confidence to continue their studies.
On her return at one time as a visitor, the word went around that she was there and she had many visitors who had previously been those students – they loved her for her acceptance, encouragement and persistence in her teaching support.
Sr Mary Rosarii was a strong, quiet, prayerful woman.
She was a woman who was a gentle, lovely member of any community.
She had a few good friends, many talents and was occupied with responsible tasks in the convent, in addition to her professional work of education.
In addition, it was evident from her floral decorating of chapels that she was also an artist. Her beautiful floral works were greatly admired.
Sr Mary Rosarii was at one time the sacristan in charge of the altar and all the requirements for the various religious ceremonies that were performed in the chapel at Victoria Square convent.
It has been remarked that the quiet, reliable Sr Mary Rosarii would finish her tasks for the chapel, then sit in the sacristy – sometimes for hours, communing with God.
Sr Mary Rosarii, a woman of great integrity, had for her motto “He did all things well”.
This motto influenced all of her life as she was a perfectionist in all her undertakings.
In her retirement, she loved to travel on her ‘free-travel’ ticket to the Goldfields and the South West with a friend.
She loved to stop on the journey for a “hot cup of tea”.
Over the last 13 years Sr Mary Rosarii’s memory dimmed and she lost her ability to live independently.
Through all of this she was specially supported at Mercy Aged Care, Wembley, by many carers, nurses and doctors.
Having celebrated her 100th birthday in 2013, she passed away peacefully on May 24, 2014.
We believe the words of St Paul in his second letter to Timothy can be applied to Sr Mary Rosarii McGinley.
She fought the good fight to the end; she ran the race to the finish. She kept the faith.
All there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for her.
May she now rest in peace and be reunited with the family she loved and all her Sisters of Mercy.