Sister Josephine Clarke
1931 - 2015
Born: 3rd August 1931
Entered Religious Life: 8th October 1956
Died: 30th April 2015
Eulogy given at Sr Josie's funeral
by Sr Rita Dawson, Provincial Leader, England/Scotland
Sr Josie was born in Liverpool in 1931 and was evacuated to Angelsey with her sister Marjorie in 1939. Josie was 7, and Marjorie 6. They were very lucky to be together, looking after each other becoming very independent. They stayed with a couple who owned a local shop which for two young children must have been very exciting.
Josie was always involved in the Church and became the Cub Leader and ran the Cubs for a long time.
She entered the Religious Sisters of Charity in October 1956 in Dublin at Mount St Anne’s and then started her Teacher Training in London.
After her Training, Josie was sent to Birmingham in 1963. In 1965, she was asked to go to Chikuni in Zambia to train young men and women to be primary teachers.
In 1982, Josie took a sabbatical year but returned to Lusaka in Zambia in 1983 to continue the Education Programme for Teachers which she had been involved in for 11 years.
Josie was in Zambia for 25 years and met the President several times. She came home on leave from Zambia every 3 years, usually looking very thin and then family would always try to send her back 3 stone heavier.
In December 1990, Josie became ill and returned to Dublin for a triple bypass surgery. Remaining in Ireland for 4 years teaching at the Young Offenders Open Prison.
In 1994, Josie returned to the English/Scottish Province to Bristol, working with the local community. She worked with children preparing for the sacraments. Josie also instructed some adults for Reception into the Church including one family of eight!! Which she was very proud of.
She retired to Birkenhead in October 2007 where she remained until July 2014, when her health failed and she moved to Clydebank to receive care.
Josie died peacefully at 2.30am on 30 April 2015 – May she Rest in Peace.
Now I am not going to suggest that Josie be canonised - well not just yet anyway – she gave us a right run for our money and she nearly killed all of us at various times during her stay!!! I suggest that Professor Welsh and Dr Guy be put up for canonisation first!!! She would just click her fingers and wanted Guy – no matter where he was or what he was doing. It wasn’t enough to see her once a day, she wanted to be seen several times. I don’t know where else you’d have someone at the click of your fingers.
But after spending 25 years in Zambia, she deserved that and she got it. According to Marjorie, Josie was very bossy always telling her what to do. However, Josie and Marjorie remained very close and it was a joy when Marjorie would come to visit although Josie kept her very busy and gave her plenty of jobs to do. I would be telling Marjorie to go and have a lie down and Josie would be giving her things to do!
Josie was really interested in everything and had a great capacity for enjoying life. She loved going out and loved having things planned for her which the staff were very good at doing. She was really interested in opera, ballet, art and dancing. She also enjoyed meeting people and chatting to them, whether on the bus or in a café while having a cup of tea. She loved talking to people and loved being the centre of attention. She was able to take part in the Hospice Midnight Walk in September 2014 and was delighted when she crossed the finishing line to receive her medal. I said it should have been the two girls pushing her who should have received the medal!
Josie loved life – she really had a great capacity and we could all learn so much from her. I think although she was challenging for us – and she definitely was – I am sure she will be in Heaven now. The girls who were looking after her did everything to make her stay here exciting and she went out regularly. Maureen took her to Carfin which she loved. She was in Carfin with Marjorie the last time Marjorie was here about two weeks ago. After all that, she was entitled to have what she had in the end. She had the best medical care and the best nursing care in the world. Therefore, after spending 25 years at a very young age in Africa, she deserved all of this.
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 Josie is now dwelling with her Lord surrounded by all those who have gone before her – her parents, her sisters, her brother and all those she loved.
We have loved her in life let us not forget her in Death. May she now Rest in Peace.