The Society of St Margaret

The Priory of Our Lady, Walsingham

OBITUARY FOR SISTER MARY TERESA SSM

Evelyn Lucy Hubbard was born in Deal, Kent on 14th June 1930, and was the youngest of three sisters. She grew up in the village of Offwell in Devon, was educated in the local primary school, then at Ottery St Mary and on to Kings College, University of London where she began studies in History. 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 and was received as a Postulant of the Society of St Margaret at St Saviour’s Priory early in 1951 at the age of 20, and clothed as Novice Mary Teresa on 7th August that year, making her Profession in Life Vows on 6th 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 and one Sister vividly remembers being asked when a Novice 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 Kings Cross Station in early Lent 1975 when she had already been Novice Guardian for nearly four years. I was a Postulant from our 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 2’ who helped them accept the strange step 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 Candlemass 1992. The General Synod vote to allow women to be ordained priest on November 11th that year 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 due to their outlook; some time later the name was changed to ‘RooT’ (Religious of orthodox Tradition) and any Religious is welcome to attend meetings as part of our mutual flourishing. 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/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 70s 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. I’ve known her only with a very straight back! 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 problematic now, and 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 that 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 the 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. Amen.

Sister Mary Teresa SSM (Evelyn Lucy Hubbard) – 14th June 1930-12th January 2021

Professed 6th August 1953

This article was first published in the Church Times on 29 January 2021. To subscribe, please call 01603 785911 or email [email protected]

Photo taken by Stephen Parkinson