Sr. Martin Dominic Austen, 97

 

Sister Martin Dominic Austen

OTISFIELD — Sr. Martin Dominic Austen (nee Elizabeth Jane Hampden Austen) passed away in Portland on Feb. 11, 2018.

Sr. Martin was born in Filkins, Oxfordshire, England to Rev. Arthur Samuel Cooper Austen and Mrs. Alice Elizabeth Austen, formerly Burrows, on Dec. 3, 1921. Her father was an Anglican priest and she grew up in the Church of England. In her teens she went to a boarding school for young ladies. During World War II she joined the W.R.N.S. (English Navy) and worked as a radio mechanic. After the war she worked as a secretary in different places. In 1952 she joined the Roman Catholic Church in London. Three years later, she joined the Dominican Sisters of Bethany in France and made first profession in the Congregation in Dec. 1957. In 1960 she was asked to join a few Sisters and go to the U.S. and start a new house of the Dominican Sisters of Bethany at the request of Cardinal Cushing. She went with much joy and stayed there till the community was well established and then returned to Europe to finish her formation in Fontana Candida, Italy.

In 1962, she made her Final Profession and then returned to Boston, Mass. She was a great help for the Sisters since she was the only one fluent in English and a good driver. In 1965 the Sisters, with the Postulants, moved from West Newton to the country, a town called Millis, making the adjustment to rural life on a sheep farm. In 1990, the Sisters closed their houses in the United States because of a lack of new members. At that time Sr. Martin Dominic, along with the other Sisters, returned to Europe, but this time to Switzerland to a small town called Chables. Soon thereafter, she heard that one of the Sisters of Bethany who was with her in America felt called to return there to start a new community with the same charism as Bethany. Sister Martin also heard this call and so left Bethany to join her. From this humble beginning the Community of the Resurrection was founded. There she did as she had done in Bethany, traveling for weeks at a time visiting different women’s prisons in Maine, Connecticut and New York. She did this until it became too much for her but even then continued to visit the women’s prison in Windham until she became too fragile to travel. After several years of declining health and increasing care needs, she moved to St. Joseph’s Residence in Portland, where she resided for the past three years. She was well cared for there and well loved by the staff, and she loved them.

The wake for Sr. Martin was at the Community of the Resurrection in Otisfield on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018 from 3-7 p.m. The funeral was held at St. Joseph Church in Bridgton the following day, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018 at 11 a.m. Online condolences may be expressed at hallfuneralhome.net

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