When she was born, the midwife found her dying and left her at a corner while attending to her mother. Fortunately, her aunt came along to take a look and found her breathing. She then nursed her to health.
She studied in the Town Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus. The IJ Sisters were her teachers and mentors. Their gentleness and loving kindness attracted her to them, especially one particular Mdm Sister Magdalen Lucy who related to her very well in studies and religion. As she studied, Mdm Sister Magdalen guided her and journeyed with her in the Catholic faith.
She excelled in her studies and accompanied Catholic friends who attended Mass at the Church of the Sacred Heart, waking up early every morning to attend Mass with them and to participate in church activities.
After her Senior Cambridge, she took up catechism and was baptised taking the name Magdalen in honour of her favourite teacher and mentor. Her relatives strongly objected to her conversion. She became a teacher, following her favourite teacher, teaching English and Mathematics in Holy Innocents School for a few years before exploring religious life.
Her love for the Blessed Sacrament drew her to the Carmelite monastery. After aspiring for almost a year, she decided to enter the monastery. Her family marched to the monastery to protest against her vocation but the Mother Superior reminded them that she was already 21 and had the right as an adult to choose her life. Sister Magdalen decided to enter the monastery then, taking her religious name in remembrance of her teacher Mdm Sister Magdalen Lucy.
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She professed her final vows on May 8, 1946. She became the faithful extern sister for the Carmelite sisters. She was hardworking, making candles and planting orchids with her green fingers, shopping and marketing for the monastery. Even when she was suffering from shingles during her seventies, she did not spare herself. Despite her swollen and painful face, she still took care of visitors coming to the monastery.
She continued her service to the people and the sisters even when age caught up with her. She taught spirituality to the novices who benefited a lot from her novitiate. In 2000, she discovered she had cancer of the skin and sought treatment. She was admitted to St. Joseph's Home to be taken care of by the Canossian sisters. Her Carmelite sisters visited her weekly to bring her for walks and to let her enjoy her favourite snacks.
In 2004, Sister Magdalen successfully went through two weeks of daily radiation and enjoyed two years of remission from her cancer. In mid 2005, her cancer returned, started to spread, gradually worsening till nothing more could be done to stop the spreading. The doctors recommended palliative care due to her advanced age.
In her last three months, her Carmelite sisters frequently visited her. Fearing that she might not last till May, they celebrated her Diamond Jubilee on Jan 8, asking her good friend, Redemptorist Father William Heng to celebrate the Jubilee Mass for her at St. Joseph's Home.
Shortly after Lunar New Year, Sister Magdalen passed away peacefully on Feb 6, in the presence of her Carmelite sisters, Carmelite Father John Chua and Archbishop Emeritus Gregory Yong.