Sisters of Saint Joseph of Annecy


Sr. Ann Teresa – Margaret Herritty

of Newport, South Wales

who died at Llantarnam Abbey

on 7th March 2022, aged 77 years, 57 of Religious Profession.

Margaret Herritty was the eldest daughter of Pat and Bill Herritty born on 24th May 1944 at St Woolos Hospital in Newport, South Wales. She had two younger sisters Trish who died 6th December 2014, then Angela who has been a great support and a brother Kevin who died on 19th March 2016.

Margaret started her education at St Joseph’s Primary School Maindee, Newport. After that, she attended the Holy Family Secondary school in Emlyn Street, Newport. She loved school, singing came naturally, and she excelled in all subjects especially commercial subjects -Shorthand and Typing. She soon found here her best friend Kay Driscoll from Cwmbran. They were inseparable and Kay remained in touch with Margaret to the present day. Their favourite teacher was Sr. St Christopher and both were quite influenced by her, always willing to stay behind and help her out when needed. They had a weekly job of taking the ‘Biscuit’ money to the bank each week. Kay often laughs and remembers the money was usually still covered with Jam!!

Margaret attended Gwent College {Newport Technical College} for a year to study secretarial subjects. She left there at 16 and wanted to leave home to enter the Convent at Llantarnam Abbey. Her Dad refused her request and suggested she get a job first for 2 years. If she still wanted to enter the convent, then she would be allowed after she had a little experience of the outside world. So, she started work as a ledger clerk in the National Bank in Commercial Street with Mr Walters as her Manager.

Margaret’s heart was still set on joining the convent, so at 18 she left home to begin her new life as a Postulant at Llantarnam Abbey on 12th September 1962. Auntie Polly (Margaret being her favourite) thought it was an horrendous idea, shutting herself away from the world and never really accepting her idea. As a postulant the family were not allowed to visit her for a while. She was allowed to write letters home and her Mum treasured these letters and when her Mum died, most of these letters were found in a box tied up with a ribbon. To this day the family have them.

On 2nd September 1963 Margaret’s Clothing Ceremony was held in St Joseph’s Chapel, Llantarnam Abbey. There were 10 Postulants; all dressed as lovely brides, together with only a few family members joining them for the ceremony. At this service they entered as brides in white dresses, then left, and returned in the black habit. They were then given a new name – in Margaret’s case Sister Ann Teresa. After the ceremony, Kevin & Angela (her brother and sister) were allowed to join in the rest of the celebrations. On 3rd September 1964 Sister Ann Teresa made her First Profession at Llantarnam Abbey. Between 1964 and 1967 Sr. Ann helped with the infants at Stow Hill convent. Her Final Profession, at the age of 24, took place on 5th August 1968. She then trained as a business studies teacher in Bristol and later went to study theology in Canterbury. She gained a Diploma in Theology in 1978. Her first teaching post was at Bishop Mostyn School in Cardiff. (1971-1972). Then she went to St. Joseph’s Comprehensive School in Newport.

Sr Ann Teresa has had a varied career at St Joseph’s Comprehensive School since joining the staff in 1972, she has been an assistant Head of Year, Head of Commerce and Head of Religious Education. It is difficult, in a short space to write an appreciation of Sr. Ann’s undoubted achievements at the school. However, as colleague Mrs Helen McCann writes “If ever Sister saw that something needed to be done, then she devoted all her energies to achieving that goal” As a result of Sister Ann’s energy, two charities were persuaded to donate two minibuses to the school, and by working alongside staff, pupils, parents and friends at the school, Sr. Ann helped to transform an old laundry into a superb Chapel which was known as the Joseph Witherington Pastoral Centre. However, Sr. Ann’s achievements cannot be measured solely in material terms. Her impact on the development of the spiritual life of the whole community has been immense and in her work. Sr. Ann Teresa made religion a joyful and meaningful experience for many. The school prayed that God would bless her in her new work in Southampton.

But everything changed in 1997 when she was invited to start a new community in Southampton. The first intention was that this community would promote Vocations. However, this did not work and a new enterprise came into being; this became The Medaille Trust, named in honour of the founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph. In 1650 a Jesuit priest called Fr. Jean-Pierre Medaille, founded the Sisters to work especially with the poorest, most neglected people. For seven years Sr. Ann worked with women in street-based prostitution.

She helped so many women during this time, finding work in nearby bed and breakfasts and inviting them together to share a meal at the house. Her dear friend Kelly was very special to Sr. Ann, but sadly died suddenly very young leaving behind 2 children, Lexi and Capelton. She took the children under her wing and she and Sr Joanna arranged private schooling and coaching them for 2 years of their life. They then were fostered by Trish and have excelled in their lives.

Through her work, Sr. Ann started to realise the shocking scale of human trafficking (it’s estimated that between four and ten thousand women are trafficked each year) and was “nudged by God” to do something about it.

In 2005, after she’d given a talk on the subject, a couple offered to buy a house for the Trust. At around the same time she went to Rome to the first Pontifical Conference on the subject. On her return she sat down and wrote hundreds of letters to leaders of religious congregations, inviting them to a meeting. Around forty-five came and a working party was established. Over the next 9 years various Sisters, Colette, Anna, Ann Rutter, Joanna & Edmund and many others were generous in helping the work to grow. Not forgetting lots of help from     Fr Louie McDonnell and Fr Des who were both in Southampton.

Sr. Ann Teresa raised a considerable amount of funding by writing to many Religious organisations. Meetings took place with Police, Social Services, even had a mention in Parliament followed by a visit to Teresa May then the Home Secretary.

It became very evident that each step along the journey required great trust in God and a very deep commitment to the task in hand. Sr. Ann would say “I just don’t know where to turn next so I can only hand it over to God”

This complete trust in God enabled her to keep going and her prayers were always answered. Sr. Joanna felt that the Medaille Trust was a house built on solid foundations and that this surely accounts for its ongoing success as an organisation.

Sr. Ann became an honorary member (Life President) of the Medaille Trust indicating that present day members appreciate that her vision and zeal determination were responsible for success of its growth.  The first safe house was opened in 2006 on a wing and a prayer, and the second in 2007. The Trust has since worked with around one hundred and fifty women and their children, supporting them in overcoming the trauma they’ve been through, and in regaining their dignity and self-worth.

Gary Smith (C.E.O. of the Medaille Trust) writes: ‘The opening of Medaille’s latest safe house, in the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, comes 15 years after our founder and Life President, Sister Ann Teresa (SSJA), opened the first safe house in the same diocese. We are delighted to have completed our first purchase and to be going back to the roots of Medaille, where Sister Ann Teresa first made it her mission to do something about the injustice of modern slavery.’

In 2008 Sr. Ann was nominated and congratulated for being Catholic Woman of the Year. Sisters together with family & friends were invited to the 40th Annual Luncheon held at the Thistle Hotel in London. The theme was ‘Finding God in Today’s World’ Each year nominations propose women, some famous and others almost unknown, who do wonderful work for the Church in Parishes, Hospitals and workplaces. A great celebration was enjoyed by all.

Southampton - Family Celebrations

Sometime during the year, usually in May, Sr. Ann would invite all the family to spend a weekend together in Southampton. The family took over the whole house as there were so many of them including grandchildren. They had a wonderful time.

In 2001 – Sr. Ann joined in a family holiday to Thassos in Greece to celebrated Kevin’s 50th birthday. They were enjoying a Greek meal together on the seafront and always remember Ann’s excitement to have the sea splashing up to the table, lovely memories!

The Golden Jubilee 2014

For many years Ann was making plans for her 50th Golden Anniversary Celebrations. A marquee gathering held with the group of Sisters who all joined the Abbey at the same time – Sr. St Joseph, Sr. Fidelma, Sr. Teresa Anthony and Sr. Paul Gerard together with many family friends and priests to enjoy a feast together.

During the years 2015- 2017 Sr. Ann developed health problems and it was decided that she should return to live at the Abbey. She took part in going to Day Centres, and days out with family to the cinema or Barry Island (which was her favourite) providing there were Fish/Chips followed by a huge Ice Cream!!

Later she joined the Forget me Not Choir for people living with Dementia helped by Jennifer (her neice), Kevin and Angela which she really enjoyed.

Hearing about Sr. Ann Teresa’s life, a life, lived to the full we give thanks for the place Sr. Ann played within the community of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Her dedication to the mission of the Sisters underpinned her life. She was very interested and supportive of young people and tried to help them find their place in life. Hence she was entrusted with Vocation Promotion. (1983 -1993). She was a local Superior and between 1993 and 2002 a member of the Provincial Council. She was forward thinking and stimulated awareness of the new Universe Story. It would be impossible to capture such a vibrant life!

With her declining health she was cared for by the wonderful Nurses, Carers, Sisters & staff of St Joseph’s wing at Llantarnam Abbey. During her final week of life Sr. Ann rapidly declined but remained peaceful. She slipped away quietly on Monday 7th March in the presence of her sister Angela and some of the Sisters. A faithful Sister of St. Joseph had finished her mission. The family are grateful that Sr. Ann was able to complete her journey at Llantarnam Abbey where she had arrived 59 years ago. The Requiem Mass and burial took place at Llantarnam Abbey on Tuesday 15th March. A Memorial Mass took place in St. Patrick’s Church, Newport, on Thursday 24th March. (This was Sr. Ann’s home parish).

May she Rest in Peace.