November 17, 2020

Pauline Smith rsm RIP

Pauline Smith RSM, who would be known widely among Mercy members, died peacefully on 7th November.  Throughout her religious life Pauline had placed her great talents at the service of Religious and the wider church through her roles of leadership, education and the advancement of the rightful place of women in the Church. As a mentor and canonical consultant, Pauline was greatly appreciated for her generosity, balance, wisdom and insight.

A talented musician and linguist, and a renowned multi-tasker, Pauline spent some years teaching at OLMC Parramatta and OLMC Burraneer before pursuing what was to be her life commitment to furthering the role of women and laity in the Church. 

In 1979 Pauline gained a Master’s degree in Church Administration from the Canon Law Department of the Catholic University of America, Washington DC, where her major research paper was titled The Implications of the Right of Women to Respect as a Human Person in the Life of the Church.  Later, Pauline returned to Washington to gain a Licentiate in Canon Law (JCL), awarded in 1993.

In the 1980s Pauline played a significant part in the journey towards unification of the 17 groups of Sisters of Mercy in Australia.  As Executive Director of the Conference of Sisters of Mercy of Australia, she was member of the planning Committee for the First National Chapter.  Subsequently, she was elected for six years to the National Executive Council of the newly formed Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia (ISMA) alongside Dorothy Campion RSM, President, and Margaret McGovern RSM. 

From 1986 to 1992 Pauline served as Leader of her Congregation of Sisters of Mercy, Parramatta.

In 1984, the Conference of Major Superiors of Australia, forerunner of the CRA, established a National Council for Women in the Australian Church (WATAC), with the aim of raising awareness of the role of women in the Catholic Church.  Pauline Smith was appointed Convenor of the WATAC National Council and served on its national and state committees.  In 1985 She was nominated by the major Superiors of Women’s Religious Institutes to be part of the official delegation of 20 women from Australia to Forum 85, an international conference held in Nairobi, Kenya to mark the end of the UN Decade for Women.

Pauline was appointed to the role of Associate Vicar for Religious in the Diocese of Parramatta in 1994, a role she held for several years.

Pauline is survived by her sister, Margaret RSJ and her brothers Tom and Patrick and their families.  She was pre-deceased by her siblings Therese RSM, John Venard FMS, Mary RSJ, Leonie, Rita and Gerard.

—Catherine Ryan rsm

Messages to: Mary-Louise Petro rsm - Congregation Leader

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