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Obituary: Sister Mary Teresa SSM

29 January 2021

Sister Mary Angela SSM writes:

EVELYN LUCY HUBBARD was born in Deal, Kent, on 14 June 1930, and was the youngest of three sisters. She grew up in Devon, before studying history at Kings College London.

Visits to St Saviour’s Priory, Haggerston, with college friends gave her a shock, as she received a clear call to enter religious life. Paddy, as she was known, did not complete her degree, but was re­­­ceived as a Postulant of the Society of St Margaret at St Saviour’s Priory early in 1951, at the age of 20. She was clothed as Novice Mary Teresa on 7 August that year, making her Profession in Life Vows on 6 August 1953.

Over the years, she was sent to assist in various parishes, including St Anne’s, Hoxton, St Chad’s Hag­gerston, Holy Cross, Cromer Street, and the now redundant St August­ine’s, Haggerston. She was busy in the Priory, too, with St Michael’s Guild for girls and young women, the Scripture School, and Associates. During the early/mid-1970s, she was part of the University of London’s chaplaincy team based at Christ the King, Gordon Square, and was very popular with the students, keeping in touch with many.

The St Michael’s Guild continued to meet at intervals. One Sister vividly remembers as a Novice being asked by Teresa to prepare refresh­­ments for the girls. She duly did so and wheeled in the trolley at the appropriate time, to be confronted by a group of grey-haired ladies for whom she had made large jugs of orange squash. Laughter was never far away when Teresa was entertain­­ing, and it was not unusual for some funny event to be recounted on the many occasions that she talked to a parish group.

My first meeting with this at­­tractive, friendly Sister was on King’s Cross station in Lent 1975 when she had already been Novice Guardian for nearly four years. I was a Postulant from the Aberdeen Con­­vent and had been sent for a month or so to experience life in a larger Community where there was a greater age range. Teresa was im­­mediately a friend and remained so for the rest of her life — my parents regarding her as “daughter number two”, who helped them to accept the strange step that their own daughter had taken.

Whoever she was with had the un­­­­spoken sense of being a most im­­portant person to Teresa and therefore greatly loved. She really ex­­em­plified John Mason Neale’s ad­­monition to his Sisters to “Love first, Love midst, Love last.” It was no great surprise to hear that she was elected Mother in March 1978 and was in office until Candlemas 1992.

The General Synod vote on 11 November that year to allow women to be ordained priest changed life considerably. Teresa became a staunch member of Forward in Faith and, with Fr Gregory CSWG, founded Traditional Religious, to support those Religious who felt isolated in their Community owing to their outlook; some time later, the name was changed to RooT (Reli­­gious of orthodox Tradi­­tion).

Walsingham had been a semi-autonomous dependency of Hagger­­­ston for about eight years, and Sisters were sent up for two-year terms to help out. The change-over was due; so Teresa and two others were moved to Walsingham in March 1993. Tentative enquiries had been made before their departure and arrival, and new vocations were soon tested in both SSM Houses. With Teresa at the helm and elected Mother, Walsingham was soon able to return to being an autonomous House.

From the 1970s onwards, Teresa had several spells in hospital, but never complained. She suffered from extensive osteoporosis and an as­­sociated bone con­­dition so that she was bent almost double, and resulted in her needing spinal surgery in the early years of the decade, followed by lengthy con­­valescence. Her knees became more stiff and painful, and bilateral replace­ments were done and replaced after a further decade.

Teresa had been riding a bicycle around Haggerston, but that was more prob­ematic now. A generous benefactor gave her a Honda 90cc that she quickly learned to ride in the early ’80s, even travelling all the way to Devon for her holiday. In typical fashion, she joined the 59 Club for bikers which met in St Augustine’s hall, and soon had a whole new circle of friends, most of whom had never before had any con­tact with a Sister.

By the ’90s, Haggerston Priory had a car; so Teresa learnt to drive. Sitting in the pas­senger seat when she was practising between lessons was a little challenging and sometimes hair-raising, but she passed her test at the first attempt and had the free­dom of the roads.

Her ministry to pilgrims, parish groups from elsewhere, and parishes in the Walsingham benefice was greatly loved and valued; but that all changed abruptly at the end of January 2016 when she fell and fractured her right humerus. It never healed, and her bones were too fragile for pin and plate. She was transferred to St Mary’s Convent and Nursing Home at Chiswick, where she received wonderful full nursing care for the remainder of her life.

The chapel is part of the whole complex, and she was wheeled there for mass most days, and also for Divine Office with our Sisters when possible.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

Sister Mary Teresa SSM (Evelyn Lucy Hubbard) died on 12 January, aged 90.

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