Sister Kathleen Byrne
1925 - 2015
Born: 27th June 1925
Entered Religious Life: 4th February 1946
Died: 13th April 2015
Eulogy given at Sr Kathleen's funeral
by Sr Rita Dawson, Provincial Leader, England/Scotland
Kathleen was born on 27 June 1925 and entered Religious life on 4 February 1946. Her First Profession was in August 1948, with her Final Vows in August 1951. This means Kathleen has served in Religious Life for 69 years (which would be approximately 4 life sentences!!).
Kathleen was known earlier in the Congregation as Sr Joseph Clare. She was born in Ballymartin being the second of 6 children to Johanna and Matthew Byrne.
Kathleen’s eldest sister, Margaret, became Sr Joseph Xavier when she followed Kathleen into the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity.
Kathleen was next in the family, followed by Anna, who also entered religious life to the Holy Rosary Sisters.
The next child was the only boy, Patrick.
The youngest girls were Carmel and Joan. Kathleen’s family were always important to her and as many as possible of them would meet up in Dublin during the summer holidays. Kathleen would also regularly travel to Knock with at least two or three of her sisters.
While her sisters went on to African Missions, Kathleen spent all her religious life in England.
Kathleen had very good health until she needed heart surgery in April 2006.
Kathleen’s journey and ministry started in Bath in 1948 until her Final Vows in 1951. She then moved to Hackney for two years before going on to Hammersmith for twenty years.
On leaving Hammersmith in 1973, Kathleen was missioned to Sowerby Bridge as Leader until October 1979 when she moved to Basildon. Kathleen was in Basildon for two years and subsequently was missioned to Bristol as Leader in 1981 until 1987. Kathleen then had a year’s sabbatical and returned to Hackney following this as Ministress for eleven years.
After a short period in Canning Town from 1999 until 2002, Kathleen retired to Bristol but continued to visit the elderly during this time. In 2008, Kathleen had her final move back to Hackney where she has been cared for lovingly since.
She had a great sense of humour and a hearty laugh. She liked a game of scrabble and especially, loved to get a good score, also liked a game of cards.
Kathleen was a homemaker and showed wonderful hospitality to all.
In the Convent she loved cooking, making special apple pies and marmalade.
She was always very kind especially to our elderly sisters and those who were sick. The people who knew her in her ministries before she came to Hackney often ask about her, remembering her with affection.
She was very close to our Lady and prayed the rosary daily. She took people on Pilgrimage to Lourdes. She loved a trip to Our Lady’s shrine at Aylesford; she was a deeply spiritual woman.
Kathleen died surrounded by the Community on 13 April 2015 at 11.55am
Saint Ambrose said:
We have loved them in life let us not forget them in death
Of all the Gospel accounts, the story of the Last Judgement is the one which challenges and frightens most of us. It is interesting that Matthew locates this story immediately before his account of the Passion and death of Jesus as one of the very last Testaments of Jesus. At the Last Judgement on what basis will God separate the sheep from the goats? The saved from the lost? It is not how often we went to Church, not how much I did for Charity, not even on whether I served the Church in an official capacity - as Cardinal, Archbishop, Bishop, Priest, Superior General or even as Provincial - it is something much more demanding and challenging for all of us.
I was a stranger and you made me welcome, I was naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, imprisoned and you came to see me. For as often as you did this to one of the least of these, my sisters and brothers, you did it for me. This is a very frightening thing for all of us because we all know how often we fail to see Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters. How often the last thing I want to do is to see Jesus in those who need us most. It is too demanding. Serving others is both challenging and demanding and yet this is what Jesus did and what he has instructed all of us to do. Just as he gave himself, shared himself and broke himself for others out of real love, so also must we give ourselves, share ourselves and sometimes break ourselves for others – and for love. How good we are at doing this will be the basis on which we will be judged worthy of a place in the Everlasting Kingdom of Justice, Peace and Love.
One thing I ask of the Lord, for this, I long to dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life.
This is where Kathleen is now dwelling with her Lord surrounded by all those who have gone before her – her parents, her sister and all those she loved. May she Rest in Peace.
We have loved Kathleen in life let us not forget her in death.