Goulburn and district is mourning the loss of Monica Croke, who devoted much of her life to counselling services and historical research.
She passed away in hospital last month.
Monica Croke was born at Crookwell on December 9,1946 to Eileen and Harry Croke. She attended Laggan Primary School, Saint Mary's Catholic School, and Our Lady of Mercy College.
Monica married in 1966 and moved to Sydney, training at Callan Park Hospital before moving to Wollongong to obtain degrees in Clinical Psychology, Ancient History and Archaeology.
In 1982 she trained as a grief counsellor and joined Lifeline Illawarra in 1984. It would become her life's work. She rose to the level of acting director, having performed in various counselling roles, including suicide and hostage negotiations. Her experiences with homeless adults and children had a profound and lasting effect on her.
In 1986 Monica received a Bravery Award from the Queen, and was nominated for Wollongong's Citizen of the Year Award.
In 1987 she became involved with Médecins Sans Frontières, and wrote a manual to help staff deal with the trauma that they faced in coping with disasters all over the world. Three years later she helped design support programs for police and emergency workers who were traumatised while serving the community.
In 1993 Monica moved to Goulburn to help establish Lifeline, training counsellors, setting up suicide prevention workshops, grief support, peer support for teenagers, support for Meniere's and other illnesses, and training for prisoners.
She also provided crisis negotiation support for the Catholic Church, Salvation Army, the Red Cross Disaster Welfare Service, and the Police.
In 1997 her hard work was recognised when she was named Goulburn Citizen of the Year.
After retirement, Monica turned to another passion, history. She started by writing a book about her great-great-grandfather who came from Ireland and opened an inn in Laggan.
Monica volunteered for Crookwell and District Historical Society, becoming publicity officer, research officer, and newsletter editor. She wrote many books about local history, and was awarded Society life membership.
She also joined the Goulburn Historical Society where she helped in many ways and wrote more books. She carried out research for the television show Who do you Think You Are and appeared in an episode with Jacki Weaver.
Monica passed away on March 10 in Goulburn. She is survived by her sister, Carmel Fisher and her many nieces and nephews. A Mass of christian burial took place at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic church on March 22, followed by interment at Saint Patrick's Lawn Cemetery.
Monica will long be remembered for her selfless service to those in need, for her contribution to history, and for her delightful laugh. But her greatest passion however was her love for her family.
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