Last week, we sadly announced that Monica Meadowcroft had passed away. She passed on September 22 and her funeral was held on September 26. Monica was a NZCMS Mission Partner, council member and life long member of NZCMS. Below is a tribute written by her son Tim Meadowcroft, which we would like to share with you and the wider NZCMS family. Please pray with us for the Meadowcroft family during this time.
Our mother, Monica Meadowcroft, died on 22 September 2018 aged 91. She was born Monica Morris in 1927 in Wantage in the south of England, where her father was teaching at King Alfred College. The family came to New Zealand when Mum was three, for her father to take up a post as head of maths at Christs College. He held this post till his retirement. So much of Mum’s upbringing revolved around Christs College and the house in Watford Street, Papanui.
She attended Christchurch Girls High and is remembered to have had lunch regularly with a group of friends on the roof of the old school in Cranmer Square. During this period she was influenced to faith by, among others, Alison Moore who later married Ken Dalley and served with him in medical mission with NZCMS in East Africa. She attended a strong young people’s ministry at St James, Lower Riccarton in the 1940s. She met Dad, who had come down from Nelson to university in Canterbury while washing dishes in the vicarage after evening services and then walking home with him through Hagley Park. The washing of dishes seems to have been deployed as a courtship device in such circles.
Mum completed a BSc in Maths and subsequently taught maths and science briefly at St Margaret’s College. She continued to get to know Dad in the context of the Evangelical Union and the ministry of Roger Thompson at St Martins, Spreydon. They walked home from the evening Bible Studies at St Martin’s also; they seemed to walk home a lot and were still doing it 70 years later, 66 of which were as a married couple.
During these years, the late 1940s, Mum and Dad were part of a flowering of Anglican mission interest amongst young people that would fuel NZCMS for the next generation. They were both active in the League of Youth. A number of people from those years remained close friends. Those years also included being associated with the maturing influence of older returned servicemen students in immediate postwar years. Pakistan was a focus during this period, and Mum, independently of her relationship with Dad, was developing a keen interest in work in India.
After a brief period teaching at Christs College after university, Dad was ordained in 1951 into the Nelson Diocese and posted to Greymouth as curate. He was required to board with the vicar and his mother, and this was not much fun at all. In the meantime, Mum and Dad maintained their courtship by utilising the midnight railcar between Greymouth and Christchurch. Due to his difficult accommodation circumstances, Dad lobbied vigorously for permission to marry before the end of the curacy. He got the dispensation, so Mum married Dad in August 1952, and I arrived in rapid but respectable time.
In their wedding photos, Dad is wearing one of those big old-fashioned clerical collars. It was clear that in marrying Dad, Mum was signing on to her own vocation as ministry in support of Dad’s ordained ministry. This she carried out with great panache and intent. We remember growing up in a hospitable environment, sometimes, from a child’s perspective, annoyingly so. It was a model of generous living. This hospitality continued through the entire period of active ministry.
After a spell working with Dad in Seddon parish, Mum set off with him and a young child by ship to England, round the Horn and through the Panama Canal due to the Suez crisis of 1956. A formative time at Liskeard Lodge in Kent, including regular teaching from Max Warren, was followed by sailing for Pakistan in early 1957. The time in England was a chance for Mum to connect with what she grew up thinking of as “home,” as many New Zealanders of the time did.
We most recently have seen in Mum, a frail old lady. I see a young woman heading off to the unknown with a small child in the days when communications were distant. I see her giving birth to twins in a small clinic up in the Murree Hills, not having previously known she was carrying twins, Michael and Kathy. I see her losing our sister Lucy at several hours old in 1963 and burying her in Sialkot. From that period she was comforted by a verse from Proverbs that hung on her wall for many years: “The blessing of the Lord it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” I see her coping for weeks on end with three children on her own as the patterns of mission life required regular separations from Dad. I see her making a home wherever she found herself. I see her sending her children away to boarding school for six months a year when communication was no more than a weekly letter (written under duress by one party). I see her working as a research lab technician to put Dad through a degree in Princeton. I see her travelling internationally with young children and negotiating the complexities of arrivals and departures in foreign ports. And I remember her being unable to return home when her mother was killed in a road accident in 1974. She spent some hours running around the Murree hillside searching for a working telephone to ring home. Again, such were communications in those days. And of course amongst all this were the many joys of international relationships sustained over the years.
After a term in Karachi on the first arrival in Pakistan, the 14 years at Gujranwala Theological Seminary in Punjab were the centrepiece of both Mum and Dad’s ministry during their time in Pakistan, up to 1975. During those years Mum’s gifts of administration and hospitality flourished. She was on the board of Murree Christian School for a period. Her home was well organised and hospitable, and she was involved in manifold ways in the life of the seminary, from bookkeeping to dispensary work to literacy training to family planning campaigning. These were years of great challenge and significant achievement in ministry; all were supported and enabled by Mum.
From their time in parish ministry back in New Zealand, many can attest to Mum’s focus on making the vicarage a centre of parish life, first in Papanui and then St Matthews, Dunedin. Ministry in both parishes was marked by the development of active groups of young adults into faith and leadership, enabled in no small measure by Mum’s ministry of hospitality and open home. Both were busy parishes, and especially in Dunedin included a strong student focus.
Mum with Dad continued to maintain a strong commitment to NZCMS. Mum spent some years as a member of the council, and she was made a life member of the Society.
Mum loved the caravan and trips to Hanmer and earlier to Waikouaiti out of Dunedin. The years of retirement at Wyn Street in Hoon Hay and then in the villa at Santa Maria/Thorrington Village enabled Mum to express her love of gardening and pets. She became active in St Andrews and St Nicholas.
Mum had a simple, unquestioning faith, which helped to ground those around her. A strong and determined person, she became a leader in places where she has found herself. According to Dad, “she became the leader of every group to which she has ever belonged.” This meant of course that she could occasionally be known to be quite formidable. Yet, for all that, she lived in service of others.
In recent times, Mum has become increasingly confined, and Dad has cared assiduously and lovingly for her. We are grateful for the staff at Thorrington Village for their care of Mum and flexibility with us as a family. The evident distress of so many staff at Mum’s passing is a testimony both to Mum and to their own caring of her, for both of which we are grateful. Mum’s was a life well-lived.
After she died, I found a small book of love poems which had been given to her by Dad. It was marked at Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, “If Thou Must Love Me.” It opens with the line, “If thou must love me, let it be for naught / Except for love’s sake only.” Our mother both received and gave that kind of love for seventy years with Dad. And we who have been produced by and come within the orbit of that love have been blessed.