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daniel mccarrySister Mary Daniel McCarry

1925 - 2020

Born: 25th November 1925

Entered Religious Life: 2nd February 1964

Died: 18th December 2020

 

Mary McCarry, daughter of Daniel McCarry and Mary Anne Boylan was born in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim on 25th November 1925. She had two brothers John and Dan both of whom predeceased her.

She entered the Religious Sisters of Charity in Milltown on 2nd February 1964 and was received into the Novitiate on 26th August 1964 receiving the name Sr Mary Daniel. She was professed on 29th August 1966.

Prior to entering the Religious Sisters of Charity, she was manageress of the Kings Arms Hotel in Antrim and maintained contact with the owners throughout the years.

Following her profession, she was assigned to Seville Place as a social worker and then spent a year as housekeeper in St. Patrick’s, Kilkenny. From 1969 to 1977 she lived in Donnybrook where she worked with the residents and helped out in the laundry. She was noted for her kindness to the residents and kept up with up with many of them throughout the years.

In 1977 she was missioned to work with the adult blind in Merrion for three years before returning to Donnybrook to work in the Social Service Centre. She then spent a short period in Howth before being missioned to Falcarragh where she did parish visitation.

She returned to Seville Place in 1986 where she worked in the Day Centre. Her next appointment was as Ministress in Lakelands for five years. Due to the refurbishment of Lakelands in 1995 some sisters were transferred to Elm Park and Sr Mary Daniel went as their carer. She returned to the newly built care centre in Lakelands in 1996 and took up ministry as sacristan, a post which she held until 2001.

Sr Mary Daniel was dearly loved by her family and maintained contact with all the generations down through the years. She looked forward to her visits home and to their regular visits to her.

She had a love for nature and animals. She had a particular love of dogs and cats. She enjoyed cookery and handcrafts especially crochet. She was a gifted person and shared these gifts with those she worked with.

In April 2012 when Sr Mary Daniel needed further care she was transferred to the Anna Gaynor Unit at Our Lady’s Mount, Harold’s Cross. In her early years there, she enjoyed visits from her community, family and friends as well as the activities in the Unit. Over the years her condition declined and she was less able to engage with visitors.

She died peacefully in St Michael’s Ward, Anna Gaynor Unit on 18th December 2020. Due to Covid 19 restrictions we were unable to be with her in her last moments.

Her remains were removed from Our Lady’s Mount to Corrigan’s funeral home where her family were facilitated to visit. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions we were unable to bring her remains back to Lakelands. However, the funeral undertaker brought the hearse to the Convent Chapel door on the morning of the funeral and the sisters were able to say their goodbyes, prayed and sang the Salve Regina as the hearse moved on to the Church.

Her funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr John McDonagh in Star of the Sea Church Sandymount on Monday, December 21st. Due to Covid-19 restrictions the number attending was restricted but thankfully the Mass was relayed via webcam which enabled the remaining community sisters to join in the Mass. Her family being musically gifted sang as the coffin entered and left the church since Covid regulations prevented singing in the church. Also, at the graveside they sang the Ave Maria and the flute was played by her grandniece. She is buried in the community cemetery in Donnybrook where many sisters had gathered to receive her remains for burial and also to meet the family. May she rest in peace.

 

 

We are standing this morning on holy ground: the place where Mary Aikenhead spent the last years of her life as an invalid – a woman whose vision, courage and practical common-sense gave birth to our Congregation and to our long and graced history of service of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable.Today we are celebrating the life of Sr. Joseph Helen, a woman who cherished that charism, serving those in need with fidelity and generosity, and who also spent the last years of her life here in the Hospice.

 

The readings this morning are both comforting and challenging.In the Gospel Jesus speaks of himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life.He invites us to put our hope and our trust in Him and in His promise to be with us, steadily and constantly as we try each day to walk his way, to speak his truth, to live his life.It is an apt description of the life and commitment of the woman whom we are remembering here.

 

In her 103 years of life, Sr. Joseph Helen lived through historical and global changes that are impossible for us to imagine.She experienced seismic shifts in Church and state.She witnessed wars and famines on a world scale.Through all of those yearsshe remained steadfastly faithful to the constant core of who she was as an RSC.She was born Dorothy Cunningham in Ballacolla in Portlaoise on 1st July 1908. She was an only girl, with one brother, and was much loved by all.Her childhood and youth reflected the calm ordinariness of children’s lives at that time.Following her degree studies she spent some months caring for her mother who was ill and then secured a job teaching in Mountjoy St. School in Dublin.Her father was not impressed!His comment on hearing of that place was:“It doesn’t sound like much of a job but you like working for the poor and you’ve always been good at it”.She remained there until she entered the Sisters of Charity on 5th October 1931.

 

In the first reading we are told that God gives strength to the wearied; that those who hope in Yahweh will soar like eagles, run and no grow weary, walk and never tire.That was so true of J. Helen throughout her active life.She was missioned back to Mountjoy St. after her religious profession and taught there for 12 years.Following a year’s further study in Scotland, she went to teach in a Secondary Modern school inWalthamstow in England for a year.And then came the call to be one of our three founding Sisters of the Zambian Region, or Northern Rhodesia as it then was.

 

In 1948 they set sail, travelling for four weeks by boat – The Athlone Castle -rail, bus and lorry before arriving in Chisekesi Siding on a dark morning on 28th October 1948. Sr. Helen kept a diary of the journey which was printed for the 50th anniversary and which gives a fascinating insight into their journey and how they coped with, what was for them, such a strange and almost ‘alien’ environment.

 

One can only imagine the anticipation and anxiety, the challenge and the loneliness, the wonder and the doubts that marked that journey and her first months in Zambia.It was a place and people that she came to love and cherish.She committed herself to the education of girls and brought the gift of knowledge and freedom to countless women who still remember her with gratitude and appreciation.There are many past pupils with sad hearts in Zambia at the moment – their sadness at her passing tempered only by their gratitude that she is free from the debilities of her age.And that mourning is echoed this morning among our sisters there in the Region and here in this Chapel in the sisters who lived with her and shared her life for those 30 years.

 

Her first 15 years in Zambia were spent in the Teacher training college run by the Jesuits and began her work in promoting the education of girls – beginning with the setting up of a girls secondary boarding school in Roma in Lusaka.Nine years later she was appointed Regional Leader and on Independence day 1978she was conferred with the Order of Distinguished Service for 30 years of outstanding service to the people of Zambia in the fields of Education and Social work.

 

While she was a formidable woman in many ways, with high standards and expectations, her devotion to her religious life and her commitment to education was recognized and appreciated by all who knew her.She was a strict disciplinarian, spoke the truth without apology and demanded very high standards.At the same time her heart was compassionate and her generosity and hospitality were known and appreciated by all.

 

Like all of us, Helen has known suffering and joy, tears and laughter, pain and happiness, loneliness and friendship.And she had strong relationships with herfriends – too numerous to mention – but exemplified in the love and devotion of Sr. Mary Bernadette Collins and Catherine Fallon.Up to the end she valued and enjoyed her relationships with her nieces, nephews and other family members and followed their lives with interest, with love and with prayer.

 

In 1978 she was missioned to Ireland and worked on our Constitutions.Subsequently she was appointed as local leader to our community in Crumlin before her appointment to our Provincial Leadership team and consequent arrival here in Our Lady’s Mount in 1981.

 

Sr. J. Helen’s commitment to Mary Aikenhead's charism was single-minded and she never compromised on that.The second reading confirms her attitude to life:nothing outweighs the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus. It is only through Him, with Him and in Him that we can find life and happiness and fulfilment.Rooted in that conviction, she endorsed and embraced anything that served the people for whom she cared in a better, more dignified or respectful way.

 

She suffered in her growing debility and weakness these last years and all of us – family, community, friends and colleagues - were saddened as we watched her suffering and her struggle to cope.In spite of the wonderful, caring staff who surrounded her and the sisters and friends who were her constant support,she had difficult and dispiriting days.Yet she never gave up .Her faith in Providence was the touchstone of her life.In the midst of all her pain and letting-go she was confident that he was with her, holding her, comforting her and in the end, calling her to himself.And when that call came, sheyielded her spirit to the Lord, peace-filled, calm and trusting - blest with a death that had no struggle, no pain, no fear.And perhaps I can end with some words of hers, written in the diary of which I spoke, on her arrival in Chikuni:“Now that we have reached our Promised Land we must thank God and Our Lady for our very pleasant and on the whole easy journey which we have had . . . . “Those words echo, not only the journey to Chikuni, but her life journey, now at its end as she moves, we believe, into the fullness of the Promised land of God’s life and love.

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