Marie was our only Diocesan President to serve two non-consecutive terms. After heading the MU Sydney Speakers’ Department which later became the Education and Resource Department, Marie served as MU Sydney President from 1975-1980 and then from 1986-1989.
I have very fond memories of Marie from the 1970s. Bishop Donald Robinson was appointed Bishop of the Western Region of our diocese in 1973. John and I had just arrived in the parish of Sadleir in that region and both Bishop Robinson and Marie offered us tremendous support as a young clergy family. I well remember their first visit to encourage us when Marie gave me a huge fuschia in a hanging basket to start the Rectory garden. That was the first of many pastoral visits. When I inquired about starting an MU group in Sadleir, Marie was the first person to come and visit and suggest ways forward. It was she who introduced me to the MU Executive members and made building a branch of MU such a joy. In those days we were all young mothers with children except for Bev Ovens mother Jesse, and Betty Biffin. Some of the members from those days are still contributing hugely to MU ministries.
Another fond memory was the Bishop and Marie coming on Christmas Day to take services so my husband John, could lead the Green Valley Children’s Choir on a trip to Israel to sing in Bethlehem Square. They were so kind to me and the littlies that day it is engrained on my memory.
Later in 1989 Marie asked me to become MU President of Sydney Diocese. I had not served on the Executive Committee so it was a very steep learning curve for me. Marie invited me to spend a day with her at Bishopscourt where she led me through how she saw the leadership role. I went home with books and ideas which I use to this day.
On reflection, one of the greatest gifts Marie gave to me was her time. I remember the way she had conversations. You felt as if you had her undivided attention and what you said really mattered. Marie also gave me helpful advice as I negotiated my way around the Australian Church as President of MU Australia.
Many MU members will have similar memories of Marie’s Godly leading, her emphasis on the scriptures and prayer and her kind and gentle manner. I count her as one of the most influential people in my life.
Life Vice President, MU Australia