Sister Andrea Naggler
1950 – 2015
Born: 29th June 1950
Entered Religious Life: 14th October 1968
Died: 14th December 2015
Homily given by Sr Josephine McDonal at Sr Andrea’s Requiem Mass on 16 December 2015
We are in the heart of the Advent season and in a way we can already hear the song the Angels as the shepherds kept watch on the lambs and sheep on the hillside: ‘Glory to God in the Highest’ they sang ‘and peace on earth for all those pleasing Him.’
So in a very real sense, peace is the first gift that Jesus brings us.
Today’s Gospel reminds us of the last words of Jesus in the Upper Room, His last gift as it were to us.
‘Peace I leave you, my peace I give you – not the kind of peace the world gives but a sacred and enduring peace. So don’t let your heart be afraid or troubled any more.’
There are echoes or reminders of this in the first reading as the prophet Isaiah tells us of God’s tenderness and care. God does not grow tired or weary. He gives strength to the wearied and the powerless … those who hope in Yahweh renew their strength and soar like eagles.
Today we celebrate the life and death of Andrea and rejoice with her too as she has received such a special gift this Christmas ~ the peace of Christ that will endure forever.
She was born in Austria 65 years ago, and entered from Bath in 1968.
She trained in St Vincent’s Hospital and in Cappagh, nursed in St Vincent’s Hospital, Harold’s Cross, Marycrest in California and then to St Patrick’s in Cork from 1983 – 1991.
In the late 1980’s she developed MS. So really for over 30 years she lived and struggled with MS ~ just about half of her life. In Cork she coped and battled as long as she could and even went around her ward in a wheelchair. What courage and grace that took. In 1991 she went to Linden for 6 years ~ her active ministry in healthcare now over.
From there she went to Lakelands for 9 years, then briefly to Loyola and finally here to Harold’s Cross for 7 years.
It was extraordinary that she who was a beautiful pianist, singer and trained ballet dancer became more and more physically handicapped. Through all these years Andrea coped valiantly, did all she could to help herself with exercises and massage and keeping as active as she could. But in all she was so uncomplaining and courageous; she smiled a lot and was always full of peace.
It must have been such a struggle for her over these latter 30 years or more, but now that struggle is over ~ and she is enfolded in the peace of Christ forever.
Andrea had a simple and deep faith as she came to terms with her life situation. She had a strong devotion to Padre Pio for years and it lasted to the very end. His biography was always beside her and became quite tattered. ‘My friend’ she used to call him and his statue was on her bed table in front of her as she lay dying and in her hand she clutched a small picture of him. Both of them suffered something of the passion of Christ with love. Another book she had close to her was ‘The Imitation of Christ.’
In the second reading from Paul to the Philippians we read: ‘Our homeland is in Heaven and from Heaven comes the Saviour we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus, and He will transform these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body.’
Andrea’s waiting in now over and our faith teaches us that her body, her wrecked body in so many ways, is transfigured and transformed into, as Paul says: ‘copies of His glorious body.’
There is sadness in Andrea’s passing for all of us, the memories, the parting, the good byes, the loss, the sadness, the strong reminders that we have not here a lasting city but are on a journey, a pilgrimage ~ all of us ~ to our true homeland in Heaven where Christ is waiting for us as He waited for Andrea but her waiting now is over.
She has been given the best possible gift for Christmas ~ the lasting peace which only Christ can give.
This is the time for giving and receiving gifts. Perhaps we can ask Our Lady to bring us the beautiful, special gift of the peace of Christ this Christmas for ourselves but also for our communities, our families, and for the many who are suffering untold things in so many parts of our world.
We pray for Sr Andrea ~ may her gentle soul rest in God’s peace forever.