Sister Mary George
Sybil Marie Ann Costley
1932 - 2013
Sybil Marie Costley was born on January 23, 1932 in St. John, New Brunswick. At 18 months of age she was adopted by George Costley and Margaret Helen McKinnon. They had earlier adopted another daughter, Margaret, affectionately known as Maggie by Sybil and became a “big sister” to her. Sybil grew up in a loving, faith filled family for which she had fond memories and gratitude. Since her adopted parents were well on in years when Sybil was adopted, Maggie became not only a mentor and friend, but the one who was always there for her with words of understanding.
Sybil received her elementary education at St. Peter’s Girl’s School where she was taught by the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception. After grade 8 she attended Mount Carmel Academy as a day student for one year.
As long as she could remember, Sybil wanted to be a Sister and she thought that she would be a Sister of Charity of the Immaculate Conception. But, she related, God had other plans for her when Father Loftus, CSsR stepped in. He had worked with the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul in Brockville and advised her to join them. She applied in the spring of 1948 and was accepted to enter the class beginning August 15th of that year. Her father had died two years before, and this had been a difficult time for her. She experienced both excitement and sorrow during the months of preparation. But on August 13th Maggie, her husband, and their 2 year old son accompanied her on the journey to Kingston. Upon arriving at the station in Kingston, they were met by Sister Mary Claude.
Sybil’s novitiate was wonderful and yet very difficult for her. She experienced much loneliness. Her mother died suddenly on the eve of her retreat before receiving the Habit. Fortunately Maggie and her son were present for her Reception of the Habit.
After her First Profession of Vows on August 15, 1950, Sister Mary George was sent to the House of Providence to be responsible for making the desserts. Upon receiving this assignment, she made it clear to Mother Jean, General Superior, that she did not know how to boil water. After three months she was sent to the infirmary to help care for the sick Sisters. It was at this time that she fell in love with bed side nursing and the care of the Sisters. After she made her Final Vows on August 15, 1953, she was sent to St. Anthony’s Home in Moose Jaw. At first she experienced much loneliness but soon fell in love with Moose Jaw and the hard working pioneers whom she and the Sisters nursed.
From 1955 -56 she suffered from depression which the doctor felt was related to her mother’s death. After receiving treatment and experiencing a supportive community, she was restored to health.
In 1967 she was transferred back to the Motherhouse for 5 years where she wore many hats. She continued to long for the west and the elderly with whom she had worked. Then in 1973 she was assigned to Rosary Hall in Edmonton. She had mixed feelings there as she wanted to help the girls but felt helpless and again missed her beloved “old people”. In 1975 she was sent to St. Joseph’s Hospital where she again was back with the “old people” she so dearly loved. During the 16 years that she was there she did the portering of patients and worked with residents, staff and relatives.
In 1991 she was asked to take over Volunteer Services with her supervisor doing the paper work she doing the people work. The new St. Joseph’s Auxiliary Hospital opened in 1993 while she was still on staff. After her retirement later that year she continued on as a volunteer introducing pet therapy. She remained as a volunteer until ill health necessitated her return to the Motherhouse in early 2008.
Sister Mary George died peacefully on April 10, 2013. The Mass of Christian Burial, held in the Chapel of Mary Mother of Compassion, Providence Motherhouse on April 17 was presided over by Most Rev. Brendan M. O’Brien, Archbishop of Kingston. Her dear friend, Rev. Don Stein of Edmonton, was the homilist.