St Matthews Digital
Stories from our past
25 September 2020
The story of parishioner Hilda Fricker who died in the 1918 flu.
Rev Helen Jacobi
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Welcome to Saint Matthew in the city. Stories of our past on the walls of st. Matthews are various plaques memory of people, they surround us each week at worship but to be frank we don't really notice them.
Before we went into the first lockdown, I wondered, if any of the people on our walls, had died in the 1918, flu epidemic. And I thought, maybe we could learn something about that, period.
We were able to ascertain that said Matthews was closed for at least three weeks in November 1918, there was a notice and the Auckland star the newspaper of the time announcing that there would be no services from the 8th of November and that Sunday school was also cancelled. But a mere, three weeks later the same paper announce the reopening of churches, not quite the lockdown that we have experienced. The church Gazette was a That was published monthly and it had a paragraph in it about each parish and in March 1919. So the following year, they noted that sit Matthews had, had experience the loss of some of our best workers and regular attendance. They said that both the vicar Reverend Gilliam and the curat. Reverend Jesper, Calder, who is the founder of the City Mission had both been sick.
They both survived. But Reverend Gilliam would retire with ill health later that year The January. 1919 addition lists five names of people who were victims of the flu. Frank Rose held Africa. Sadie Shaw, mr. Merritt and mr. Lindsay.
But this plaque in the church is to the memory of Hilda fricker, it says to the glory of God, and in sacred memory of Hilda, Elizabeth fricker, scholar teacher and superintendent of the infant sunday-school, who fell asleep? On November 23rd, 1918, aged 18 years.
And then there's a quote, she hath done, what she could.
And then it says erected by the past and present teachers of sit Matthews Sunday School The same Gazette in May 1918, mentions held Africa. And it says that she was appointed to lead the kindergarten section of the Sunday school, and that she was a trained teacher.
She died. Just six months later. Still 18. So, what a young teacher she was I would love to know more about her. And when I read the plaque, I was intrigued by this quote, she hath done what she could, I couldn't figure out for a while, where that was from. And then I realized that it's from the gospel of Mark chapter 14, which goes like this.
While Jesus was at Bethany and the house of Simon the leper. As he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly, ointment of nard. And she broke open the jar and poured, the ointment on his head, but some were there who said to one another and anger, why was this ointment wasted in this way? It could have been sold for more than 300 denarii and the money given to the poor.
And I scolded her.
But Jesus said let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me.
She has done what she could. She has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you where ever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world. What she has been, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.
She has done what she could. I would love to know what the Sunday School teachers thought about. And choosing this verse Maybe she has done what she could implies the acceptance of a death. And one so young. She's lived a complete life. She's done what she could or maybe they saw qualities. And held his life that was similar to the unnamed woman who anointed Jesus devotion and love and care.
Maybe they saw on her work with children, and example, to be followed the way the passage finishes. What she has done will be told in remembrance of her, that's always a line, treasured by feminist. Theologians pleased to see Jesus promising that the work of women will be remembered.
So I think it's actually quite radical of those Sunday school teachers and 1918 to have spotted that verse and used it.
So we can be really glad of this plaque and it's quote, which helps us to remember, Hilda, and to remember, the flu epidemic, which so marked our communities and 1918. Just at the end of World War 1, And in 2020, as we watch the horror of the pandemic and the world around us, we give thanks for all that has been done to keep us safe here and I'll tear your O'er.
And we hope to that what we have done will continue to support our community and keep each other safe.