Sister Maria Teresita Hogg
1941 - 2019
Born: 14th February 1941
Entered Religious Life: 14th October 1968
Died: 15th September 2019
The following is the reflection given at Sr Maria's funeral Mass by Sr Una O'Neill, the Provincial Leader in Ireland
In the Gospel today Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled, not to be afraid. And the reason is given in the opening hymn: Jesus is our wisdom, the Lord of our hearts, our light, our true word . . . And that was true of Maria – Mary as she was called by her family. She was not one to share her faith or feelings too much but her life was lived as best she could, in the sure belief that the Lord was her wisdom and her light.
Today we gather to celebrate the life of Maria – known to her family as Mary Margaret – who was born to John and Ann on the 14th February 1941. From her parents and family she received the gift of faith that eventually led to her decision to become a Sister of Charity. All of us here today have known Marie in one way or another: her community and the Sisters of the Congregation, her friends and neighbours; her extended family – but above all her sister Dolores and her brothers Tony and John. I am conscious today that the family have now lost three siblings in one year: Maria, Anna and Julie – it is a lot of sorrow for any family and we remember Anna and Julie especially at this Mass.
In the second reading St. John reminds us to think of the love that God has lavished on us - a love that is selfless, compassionate and forgiving - a love that challenges us to see light in the darkness, to know peace in the anguish, to find consolation even as we mourn, to hold fast to Jesus and to His promise of life, as Maria did. Many times we may feel like giving up. Many times our faith will be shaken. Many times we may wonder what life is all about. But if our hearts are set on Christ, then in the midst of the dark moments, the suffering, the anxiety, we will know that the Lord is with us and that we can depend on him because his love for us is without limit.
That was the story of Maria’s life. She gave herself with generosity to the many people whose lives she touched in her years in childcare and in the care of those who were unable to care for themselves in St. Patrick’s Kilkenny, in Benada, in Merrion, in St. Vincent’s Cork, in Lakelands and Temple Street. She was very much a Dubliner and that Dublin spirit and wit marked her years of ministry – she actually spent 22 years outside of Dublin. I wonder if it is providential that she died on the morning after Dublin football team did the 5 in a row and the day on which the Dublin camogie team did three in a row.
More importantly, she died on her feastday – Our Lady of Sorrows. While she had a great capacity for enjoyment, her life, like all our lives, was marked by suffering and sorrow. Our Lady had times of piercing sorrow but she never gave up – she never lost faith in or love for her beloved Son. Her choice of this feast is an indication of where Maria’s faith was centred – in the suffering heart of Mary who, as mother, suffered in and through the suffering of her Son. Her gift to him was her constant presence from birth to death as she stood beneath the Cross.
On the 27th August 1848, our Foundress Mary Aikenhead wrote: “Pray that I may be faithful to the end”. Maria suffered greatly – above all through her illness – these past few years - and all of us, family, community, friends were saddened as we watched her suffering and her struggle to cope and to hope. The Sisters and staff in Temple Street and St. Monica’s did all they could to ensure her comfort and care and her family were constant in their visits and in ensuring that her needs were met. In these last days she has been surrounded by those who cared for her – and in the end she let go gently and peacefully.
In the Gospel Jesus says: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. When everything seems to be falling apart – the love of God, the peace that He give us - remains true. May the constancy of that love reassure and encourage us as it did Maria. May we know, as she now does, that God’s love holds us close and calms our anxious hearts. Maria has now moved beyond the limits of this life and is complete in that love. May she rest in peace.