Blessed by good health
AS KINGSCLIFF resident Sister Mary Raymond celebrated her 100th birthday she said the milestone was quite unexpected.
"I don't feel 100 years old at all," she said with a smile.
"People ask me what's the secret to reaching 100 and all I can say is God's given me good health."
Speaking with the Tweed Border Mail, the Franciscan nun was relaxed in her home and excited about all the letters she had received for her very special milestone.
Along with the official letter from Queen Elizabeth II, she had also received congratulations and birthday wishes from Australian Governor General Quentin Bryce, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Premier of NSW Barry O'Farrell, Governor of NSW Marie Bashir, Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, Leader of the National Party Warren Truss, Member for Richmond Justine Elliot, State Member for Tweed Geoff Provest and the leader of the Franciscan order in Rome.
Born in Grafton as Jeanette O'brien on September 27, 1911, Sr Mary was one of five children.
She said one of her earliest memories was from when she was seven years of age in 1918.
"I remember my mum picked me up and put me on the fence in our yard and we cheered on all the soldiers who had returned from the war," Sr Mary said.
"The whole town had come out to see them and wave."
When she was still a young girl her family moved to Waverly near Sydney and it was there she learnt more about the Franciscan fathers and sisters.
"They loved the poor no matter what and always gave help to people who needed it," she said, explaining she wanted to help people too.
She joined the Franciscan order in her 20s and went to Rome to become a nun.
Upon returning to Australia she taught in schools at Kedron, Burleigh Heads, Coolangatta, Silkwood and out west at Dajarra.
Her whole life she loved to work with children.
In her service as a nun she celebrated her silver, gold, diamond and platinum jubilees - 70 years of service.
"I've loved it and I love working with children," she said.
She said she loved going out for walks in Kingscliff and visiting the shops.
On her last trip to Tweed City she said there were a group of high school boys out the front.
"I always like to talk to the kids out the front," she explained.
"I asked one of the boys what he was planning to do once he finished high school and he told me he was going to university to study engineering.
"What was most interesting was that as I walked away he said 'thank you for asking' - what a polite boy."
People ask me what's the secret to reaching 100 ... God's given me good health.