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Tuesday 11 April 2017

Services confirmed for Paula Brettkelly

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 2nd September 2008

A Requiem Mass will be celebrated tomorrow in St Mary's Catholic Church, Wanganui, for the late Sister Paula Brettkelly, an early and tireless worker in the fight against the spread of HIV and the stigmatisation of people infected with the virus.

Sister Paula Brettkelly (Pic: Chris Sibley)
The Mass will be celebrated in St Mary's Catholic Church, Guyton Street Wanganui at 1.30pm and will be preceded by a vigil service at 7 o'clock tonight in the Mt St Joseph Chapel, Hillside Terrace, Wanganui.

Although no service is yet confirmed for Wellington, where she was based for many years, close friends say they are likely to arrange a remembrance service very soon.

Brettkelly is remembered by gay rights and HIV activist Bill Logan as a very human person with an earthy chuckle and sense of humour who could "play the nun when it suited her purposes."

"In 1986 she walked into the Awhina Centre, located in Newton in those pre-NZAF days, and offered to help in the fight against HIV and AIDS," Logan recalls. "The initial reaction was a slightly cynical: 'Oh, yeah, a nun... how long will she last in this environment.'"

But Brettkelly did last and became one of the lynchpins of the campaign for the campaign for Homosexual Law Reform which underscored HIV prevention and support initiatives. "She did her parish duties too, and I can remember her saying that she was driving some elderly ladies of the parish around Wellington one day when her glove box popped open and a scattering of condoms spilled out. She stuffed them back in and closed the glove box and continued as if nothing had happened."

Logan says Brettkelly had a strong sense of social justice and, although she had been extremely unwell and in great pain in recent weeks as her cancer neared its end stage, "she hoped to live long enough to cast a vote against the National Party."

Paula Brettkelly's funeral arrangements are being arranged through the Cleveland Funeral Home in Wanganui (06) 345-5522

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