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A pilgrim at peace with God

Jennifer (Jenny) Anne Moloney (nee Healy)

Born:  September 27, 1939, Port Moresby, New Guinea

Born to Eternal Life: November 13, 2013, Longreach

AFTER  Jenny was born in Port Moresby, parents Michael James Joseph Healy and Mary (Molly) Josephine (nee McGrath), she was placed in a bathtub which sat in a canoe and floated down the Fly River to the family home in Kairuka.

Her father, appointed in 1949, was the first District Commissioner ever to be formally recognised by the Crown.

Jenny was not named for some time after she was born as her mother had expected to have a son, to be called Michael.

 It wasn’t until her socialite mother was looking at the beautiful Jennifer-Ann shoes in a magazine that Jenny was named.

In March 1942, when war broke out, an immediate evacuation order was given for all women and children.

As the family’s only form of contact, a two-way radio, was broken at the time, the message was not received until three days later.

After a quick trip up the river, Jenny and her mother arrived in Moresby to watch the last ship sailing away.

They were finally put on the last plane out of Moresby and three weeks later made it to Brisbane.

In 1949, Jenny’s parents received a telegram to say she had been accepted by the Sacred Heart Sisters into Stuartholme, Brisbane, to begin Grade Four in 1950 as a boarder.

During the following eight years, Jenny lived with the Sisters in the Convent only returning home once a year by The Flying Boat, to her family.

When Jenny finished school in 1958, she was not sure what she wanted to do.

The Mother Superior at Stuartholme took matters into her own hands calling Jenny into her office and informing her that she was going to be a Librarian at the South Brisbane Library.  After six months she left the library and was called back to Moresby and to the family.  Finding herself with duties befitting the daughter of the District Commissioner, Jenny spent six months before deciding it was all too formal and moved back to Australia living at the YMCA Hostel at Newmarket and returning to work at the Library.

Jenny met Bill Moloney through her friend Trish Quilter (De Sallie) in early 1960.

 During her three day Easter break, Bill invited Jenny to the family property, Breedon, west of Longreach.

 It was during a mid-week trip to Breedon by train in May a few weeks later that Jenny attended the Carinya races on the Thursday.

On Saturday night at the fourth furlong post, Bill surprised Jenny by proposing. Though she was a little shocked, she said yes.

 When they returned to Breedon the next day, Jenny got sick with the flu and was in bed for a week so the news of the engagement didn’t go out.

Bill simply mentioned it to his mother.

The next Saturday night was Movie Night at ‘Breedon’ and everyone came.

“The Boss”, (Bill’s dad, Colin Moloney), got out the wine and proposed a toast announcing, “Billy has decided to take a wife”.

  She was not quite 21 and he was 31.

Jenny and Bill were married on Friday, August 13, 1960 at St Lucia Catholic Church by Fr Alfred Hogan.

Their reception was at the Bellevue Hotel in Brisbane.

There were 115 guests at the wedding and her bridesmaids were Trish Quilter, Alice Ann Delahunty, Del Curran (Blackall) and Erica Finnemore (Healy).

Bill’s groomsmen were Paul Solaski (a stand in for Mike McAuliffe) and Edgar Ahern (standing in for John Ahern who was the best man).

There was no accommodation in Brisbane so they spent the wedding night driving from the Bellevue to the Broadbeach Hotel, which was then Lennon’s Hotel.

When they were first married they lived at ‘Old Dahra’ but would spend more than months of the year living out of suitcases at Breedon.

On her 21st birthday, she was pregnant with her first child.

Michael was born May 25, 1961; Michelle was born June 18, 1962 (the first girl in the Moloney family in two generations); Gordon was born June 10, 1963; Mark was born July 23, 1964; Matthew was born March 17, 1968 and Madelaine was born in Brisbane on July 9, 1970. Madelaine was the only child to be born outside of Longreach.

 Bill only took Jenny mustering once – a complete disaster.

He thought he’d try once more later that day giving her the job of holding open the gate during the drafting.

As she spied a big horned ram coming toward her, she let go of the gate and was never seen in the yards again.

She was the “Lady of the House”. On December 23, 1963 they moved from Old Dahra to Yarraman until they retired into Longreach at Kingfisher Street in the late 1990’s.

Jenny was involved in Isolated Children parent’s Association and she and Bill were leading local advocates for government assistance for funding to help fund the education of their children.

Jenny was on the Qantas Board for a period of time and volunteered for the Hall of Fame and many country associations.

When I went on holidays a few months ago I had this urgent phone message to ring Mum.

 It was an excited Mum who wanted to tell me that she had just read this most fantastic book, it was called: I Am Pilgrim.

As I reflected on today, I thought what an appropriate title for a book of Mum’s life.

She indeed was a Pilgrim, someone who journeyed: not lightly, not always easily, but she cherished and lived it to the full, taking in whatever was put in front of her and dealing with it in the best way she could.

 For the first time in her life perhaps she had a lasting and lifelong attachment, which she had longed and searched for.

She had already the beginnings of a faith that had grown within her and now she had someone to share it with: our Dad and her soul mate.

When I think of Mum and her life, especially with Dad, the word attachment comes to mind. For me it represents something deeper than just a simple connection, Mum and Dad were soul mates and it was their faith that was the glue that bound them together.

It was here in the west that she lived out her faith in the day-to-day struggles in life, raising children, and working and living in isolation that perhaps this generation doesn’t understand in the same way.

Life today is very different to fifty years ago.

But it was her faith and deep attachment of love to Dad, which was hers and both their foundation.

They were never two people but were one.

Whenever you saw them alone, the question was always: where’s the other? Even now as I think where Mum is … she’s with Dad.

In our first Scripture reading, which was from dad’s funeral, it says: my soul longs for you and my spirit within me seeks you out.

As a couple they drew strength from each other and that strength came from God. Mum in her life and faith had a longing for Dad and in these later years she sort that attachment again which she had with him and drew strength from her faith and love of God to hold her in her times of need.

From her days at Stuartholme till her final hours: She was alive but no longer was it her alone, but the attachment and longing for Christ was the one working in and through her to give her the strength she needed.

To the very end she indeed was limited, she wasn’t perfect, but she believed the Christ within her and the attachment of love that Christ had for her, (Galatians 2:19-20) was what she needed now.

This attachment was what our Gospel speaks of in the vine and the branches.

Without Christ she was lost and adrift in life and without Dad that something was missing in her.

The image of the branch withering without the vine was real in Mum’s life. It was her love and faith in God, in marriage and love for Dad, in her attachment and love for her children and especially her grandchildren, which made her whole.

Eventually when little William, her first great grandchild was born, she was ever so pleased to spend time with, just a few weeks ago.

She was ever so in love with all her grandchildren and especially with little Olivia who brought a sparkle to her eyes again in these last years. Nanny loved her dearly.

Mum chose her life with God at her side first, with Dad, and her family, and she loved us all.

 She had many dear friends, which she shared many laughs and tears with.

She scared an odd priest or too with her comments about this or that topic including myself and her fingernails if ever pointed at you, you knew you were in trouble.

Indeed she was a friend too many, she said it like it was, she didn’t coat it in honey, if she didn’t like what was said or done she made sure you knew about it.

She was larger than life, she was our remarkable Mum; she was your friend, she was a pilgrim who journeyed in life and now she has completed that journey and is at last at peace.

Her attachment and love of God, her attachment and love of Dad, is complete, and she is now finally at home.

She was a pilgrim in this life and now her journey has begun in eternal life. God bless you now Mum and rest in peace.

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord; may perpetual light shine upon her; and may she rest in peace. Amen.

From the Requiem Mass celebrated by her son Fr Matthew Moloney

With Parishioners, Friends, Family and Priest’s of the Diocese of Rockhampton.

Written by: Staff writers
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