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Sr Natalie Houlihan

inducted 2010 Service

About Sr Natalie Houlihan

Natalie Houlihan was a St Ann's student from the Class of 1981. Growing up in Winslow, Natalie completed a Bachelor of Science after leaving school and then trained as a teacher. Natalie joined the Loreto Sisters in 2000 and, in the early part of her training for the religious life, spent 8 months overseas teaching in Europe and living in a Loreto Community in South Africa.

Since being professed as a Loreto Sister in 2004, Natalie continued to teach and she also travelled twice to India with study groups, which reinforced her passion for working with the peoples of developing countries.

After undertaking theological studies, Natalie visited East Timor, where she developed a rapport with the East Timorese people and a wish to contribute to the betterment of life there.

Sister Natalie now works in East Timor to improve the quality of education. She mentors young teachers, trains volunteers and oversees the pastoral care of students, of whom ninety percent live away from home. Many are from poor, isolated villages and due to their absence from the traditional family structures; many are in need of ongoing emotional and spiritual support.

With a high incidence of poor health and nutrition, the students need support and assistance to access medical services and to ensure the provision of adequate living standards. One of Natalie's main focuses includes environmental education within the local community so as to strengthen links between the home and school. This includes a vegetable-growing program, which supplements the Government's school feeding program.

Natalie has said that that she is grateful for the privilege of having had a Mercy education at St Ann's. Natalie was inspired in her vocation after reading the memoirs of another past student, Veronica Keegan, who was five years her senior, saying, "I was inspired by her depth of character, her courage and her will to reach out and help others. I feel great pride to think that I, in my simple everyday living may also able to inspire other young people to follow their calling and to reach out in service to the greater good."