Monica was born in Hampstead on the May 26, 1931, the eldest of six children. From her parents she inherited a deep faith and a creative talent which was to influence all she undertook in later life.
Like her sisters, Monica was educated at St Joseph’s Convent Grammar School in Abbey Wood, London. Much later, in 1948, she was to start her formation to become a Daughter of Jesus, and member of that Congregation founded in Brittany, to which St Joseph’s school belonged.
Monica made her vows in 1950 and returned to England, to High Wycombe where she taught and continued her studies until 1956, when she was asked to join the Abbey Wood community. Here she taught Home Economics and instilled in her pupils that care and attention to detail which was a hallmark of her life.
In 1967 she had the opportunity to follow a course of studies established in England as a result of the Second Vatican Council. Sr Monica was deeply influenced by this year and her very capable skills as a teacher began to be directed towards sharing the faith she had lived with other adults and children.
By this time, 1968, she was back in High Wycombe, and began her work as a Catechist in the Northampton Diocese. She was soon recognised for her qualities and was made a Religious Education Advisor in the different parishes: giving talks, organising meetings for adults, Bible study groups and prayer groups, as well as preparing children for the sacraments.
In 1972 she moved to Chesham Bois to support the newly established provincial house and take on the work of Archivist for the Province. Two years later she was called upon to help the Princes Risborough community where a small residential home was expanding. Here, her organisational and culinary skills were much appreciated but her evenings were still devoted to the parishes.
In 1976 the Northampton diocese was divided to form a new diocese of East Anglia. Sr Monica maintained all her previous contacts, and she became part East Anglia Diocese in 1993 when she was asked to be responsible for the retreat house in Massingham, Norfolk. By this time Monica had also taken on the care of an elderly uncle.
1997 saw Sr Monica move to North Walsham and become part of the parish there – accepting a diminishment of her evening classes and travel. In 2011, she moved to Lincoln Gate here in Peterborough. Sr Monica liked to be busy and soon found herself responding to many calls on her giftedness and generosity: anything from preparing children for Baptism, First Communion, advising on a liturgy, teaching English, making cakes for special occasions or a simple afternoon tea, altering a dress or pair of trousers, or making cards for a friend’s celebration.
She often said: “I’d like to do more, but I don’t have the breath.” And it was this shortness of breath that made her call for help and subsequently accept a place in Longueville Court.
“Sr Monica was a strong-minded and forthright person,” remembers Sr Mary Clare Mason DJ. “As the saying goes, she didn’t suffer fools gladly, but she also had a gentle side to her character as witnessed to by so many of those who knew her.”
In the few weeks she was in Longueville, Monica was peaceful and full of praise for the care she received. She appreciated the visits from the few who were allowed to see her and expressed her concern and love for the many people she’d known, and her gratitude for all the tokens of love and thanks she had received.
In her room she had a card entitled ‘A Tribute’ written by a former pupil:
Daughters of Jesus
Courageous and kind
Holding a hand out
To the needs which they find.
Both feet on the ground
Giving their help
Spreading Jesus around.
Pictured above is Sr Monica Wyard.