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dePazzi Conlon, CSJP (1927 - 2017)

Sister de Pazzi (Rose Anne Conlon), born on December 9, 1927, was the seventh of eight children in her family. She is named Roseanne, one word, on her birth certificate but she herself wrote the name as Rose Anne. However, she also seems to have been known as Kathleen. Sadly, both parents died while Rose Anne was a child and she was brought up from nine years old by her aunt, Mrs John Galligan. Rose Anne joined the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace in 1948, was given the name Sister de Pazzi, a name she carried for all her years among us.

After a novitiate spent in Rearsby, Sister de Pazzi made First Profession of vows on August 15th, 1950 and then moved to Mapperley Road, Nottingham to continue her education at the Convent School before attending Sedgley Park Teacher Training College in Manchester. On obtaining her teaching qualification she taught junior age children in St Joseph’s, Burslem (1952-1958) and then went to University College, Cork where she gained an Arts Degree in Geography. Upon graduation she taught at St Peter’s High School, Doncaster and at the request of the Bishop of Leeds transferred with her community to the about-to-be-opened very first Catholic Comprehensive School in the diocese, St Wilfrid’s, Featherstone. For seven years she taught Geography and Religious Education there and then moved to Bradford for ten years as Senior Mistress at St George’s High School.

When St George’s became a Middle School, Sister de Pazzi chose to leave the formal atmosphere of the classroom in order to take on a less concentrated, but still connected, role as a School and Family Social Worker, a ministry at which she excelled. She was discreet, non-judgemental and respectful of the families and their confidences. For seven years she moved among schools in the Leeds diocese and was very much loved by everyone - except, perhaps, those unfortunate enough to be offered a lift in her car! Bradford people still talk about her attention to everything, except her driving. Her final years were spent in Wollaton, Nottingham where she was well known and active in the parish.

Sister de Pazzi had a great sense of humour, was very considerate of others, especially the more feeble Sisters, and was never too busy to sit and chat with callers whom she welcomed with superb hospitality. She enjoyed cooking, reading and knitting and, when she was younger, liked to walk in the fields or parks of her neighbourhood. She enjoyed close contact with her family and loved visiting her sister, Sister Angela, who had entered the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1943 and ended her days at The Bar Convent, York, not a great distance from our houses in Featherstone and Bradford. She was interested in the doings of her nephews, nieces and all the members of siblings’ families.

Sister de Pazzi always appeared to be untroubled and carefree and carried her deep and prayerful presence through all eventualities. She remained rooted in her trust in God and obviously instilled it in her students from their earliest days in her classes. One of her former students, now a teacher in Featherstone, gave a lovely pen-picture of de Pazzi, “rosy scrubbed cheeks, John Lennon glasses and shiny lace-up shoes”, and dwelt on the fact that even on field trips de Pazzi led then in prayer “at mid-day on top of Malham Tarn” – a noted geological site in Yorkshire. She remembered that Sister passed on “a deep devotion to Our Lady – plenty of miraculous medals” and that the pages of their exercise books (jotters) all started with AMDG, so everything in de Pazzi’s and her students’ lives was “For the Greater Glory of God”. In later years the lace-up shoes gave way to fur-lined boots, worn summer and winter, and she scoured the shoe shops, or had others scour them on her behalf, looking for boots of the precise make that she found comfortable. Taking no for an answer was never her style and when the shops failed to carry the boots she wanted, a couple of Sisters were commandeered to trawl the internet until finally the right pair was found. Even on the warmest day, de Pazzi would not leave the house without her woollen coat and scarf and, of course, the boots and veil with head piece securely covering her ears. No draught would ever reach her. And it has to be said that her skin was practically wrinkle-free right up to the end.

She died on November 10, 2017, one month short of her 90th birthday. Her funeral in Rearsby was attended by a large gathering of family members, by visitors from Bradford and Wollaton and, of course, by many Sisters. She had left instructions that her coffin was to remain closed and, given that we always knew her as de Pazzi, it was somewhat disconcerting to see her baptismal name rather than her religious name on the coffin. Sister de Pazzi was buried in the convent cemetery at Rearsby on Friday, November 17th, 2017. May she rest in peace.

dePazzi Conlon, CSJP (1927 - 2017)

"If our role as messengers of God’s good news means anything to us, the chorus of people begging for peace will touch a special place in our hearts. "

Patricia Lynch, CSJP