Mount Magdala Cemetery of the Good Shepherd Sisters is located in Halswell. The cemetery opened around 1888 and is now closed.
The establishment of the Good Shepherd Covent at Mount Magdala, Christchurch, dates from the early 1880’s. Today at Aidanfield, the historic Mount Magdala Cemetery and the St John of God Church are two remaining connections with the work of the Good Shepherd Sisters.
Mount Magdala was the pioneering catholic social work institution for the care of woman. The institution was established at Halswell between 1886 and 1888. The complex was founded as a predominantly self – sufficient community with a farmand orchard. Many residents were employed in laundry, sewing and cooking activities. By the 1930’s Mount Magdala was a self – contained community housing almost 500 people. Many new buildings were added over the years including a chapel in 1900 along with an orphanage in 1934. Of the many that passed through the institution, some were restored to their families and other were comfortably married or obtained situations. A relatively small number lived out their lives in the sisters’ care and were buried in the cemetery. Now placed at the head of the cemetery are the few permanent headstones erected. The wooden crosses that once marked the graves are now gone.
Original cemetery plans and the memorial wall suggest that there are as many as 278 known graves from 1888 to 1972. The neighbouring Aidanfield Subdivision is named after Mother Aidan phelan who is buried in the cemetery.