Remaining survivor of Mandurah estuary tragedy dies aged 94

Friday, 21 June 2024 11:02

By Monique Welhan

Sister Rita (Augustine) Goodchild, originally from Ireland, passed away on June 10 aged 94. PIC: Iona Presentation College/Instagram

The last remaining survivor of a boating tragedy in the Mandurah estuary that claimed the lives of three nuns and a priest in 1959 has died.

Sister Rita (Augustine) Goodchild, originally from Ireland, passed away on June 10 aged 94.

She was a Presentation Sister and for the past 30 years had been living at the Iona Presentation College convent in Mosman Park.

In a statement released by Iona Presentation College, Sister Rita was described as a "unique, spirited woman, who possessed a deep faith, and transformed many lives over the years through her role as educator, Sister, and friend".

"In addition to her role as a teacher, Sister Rita delighted particularly in her ministry with Rocky Bay in Mosman Park which saw her provide love, support, and assistance to people with a range of needs.

"Sister Rita was the final remaining survivor of the Mandurah Boating Tragedy; a devastating event on 28 January, 1959 that resulted in the loss of life of Father O’Hara, and three Presentation Sisters – Mother Finbarr Tarrant, Mother Patricia Lynch and Sister Joachim Delahunty. Sister Rita clung onto the side of the upturned boat in the water overnight and together with Sister Aquinas McMahon, survived, showing immense bravery and faith.

"In these final days, Sister Rita asked the Sisters to “keep her in the prayers” and for a woman who dedicated her life to the service of God’s mission in our world, we offer this prayer on her behalf."

Sister Rita and Sister Aquinas were announced as honorary lifetime members of the Mandurah Marine Rescue in 2021.

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