BRISBANE-born Sr Mary Theodore has received an award recognising more than 50 years of service to disabled children in India.
The Asialink Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop Medal was presented in Sydney on February 1 by the Prime Minister’s wife Jeanette Howard.
The 83-year-old nun, who humbly calls herself “God’s Donkey”, joined the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in 1948, but subsequently went out on her own and now works independently in India.
One of eight children born to wealthy Lebanese migrants in Australia, she wanted at 17 to become nothing more than a penniless missionary nun.
Her family made her wait another four years before she could join the order.
The day she finished her religious training she received her travel orders to India.
Sr Mary Theodore dedicated her life to the care and rehabilitation of mentally and physically disabled children in Madras, now Chennai, when she arrived in 1951 from Australia.
She recommended to the Archbishop of Madras to found an institute for the physically and mentally disabled.
The Madras Institute to Habilitate Retarded Afflicted (MITHRA) was registered in 1973.
Sr Mary Theodore was nominated for the award by Australia’s ambassador to India, John McCarthy.