Sister Frances Guiney
1943 – 2010
Born: 13th July 1943
Entered Religious Life: 6th July 1964
Died: 11th November 2010
Appreciation of Sr Frances Guiney
by Sr Jacinta Boland
Frances Guiney – A Woman of Substance – eulogy given at Frances’ funeral
“The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on water, but to walk on the earth.” (Chinese proverb) This was on the front of the card Frances sent me when she said she felt it was a privilege to serve on the Provincial Leadership Team and assured me of her total loyalty and support. Whatever Frances did she gave it her all and today we share some of Frances’ story.
Frances was a very special lady and that is what we are here to celebrate today. Frances loved social occasions and is in heaven, delighted that so many of her friends are here to celebrate her, though she would be humbled by the attention!
Frances specifically said to people before she went to God, not to be sad.
We all had a unique relationship with Frances, all parts of the jigsaw of her life, and all equally important to her. Fr. Phil Moor said at Mass on the day she died that she had a unique talent of making the person she was with feel that they were the only person in the world, she was totally with you. That was Frances. She saw into your soul and brought out gifts and qualities that you didn’t know you had within you.
Frances had deep respect and love for everyone and was not impressed by material things, except maybe her ‘O De Lancome’ and her radio! She lived life to the full and made all of our lives richer by her presence.
There were so many aspects to Frances’ life but her, nurturing kindness, generosity of spirit; smile, laughter and sense of fun have been mentioned repeatedly by everyone who talks about her.
Frances joined the Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity in 1964, the week before her 21st birthday. She committed herself to a life of service to the poor and lived out this commitment diligently.
All of her work was carried out quietly. She never told people how much she had done or how good she was, quite the opposite, she just got on and did what she knew to be right.
There were three major facets to Frances’ life; Congregation, Family and Friends and none were ever let down by her and she was never too busy to make time for them. She gave of herself timelessly and was energized by them.
Frances lived in various Communities during her 46 years with the Congregation. She began her ministry of Service in St. Patrick’s Kilkenny she then moved to Rock Ferry and from there went to Bristol; in 1973 she returned to Ireland and lived in Gardiner St. for two years. She returned to Bristol and remained there for nine years she travelled to Birkenhead in November 1983 and has served in the Shrewsbury Diocese for twenty seven years.
During her time in Bristol she took the Guides to Switzerland and France with Sr. Brigid, Sr. Maria and Fr. Richard. There were so many stories told of the adventures, but all exemplify her love of life and fun and respect for all – this thread runs throughout her life. She always wanted to give people opportunities that they may not experience, and ensure that they had fun in the process!
Frances’ years in Rock Ferry were as a ’Leader’ – she was a born leader, organizer and companion. She journeyed with the ‘sisters’ and the ‘ladies’ and despite some challenging circumstances, she ensured that everyone was respected, nurtured and treated as ‘a unique creation made in the image and likeness of God’.
Frances’ next move was to Park Road North where she enjoyed many happy years. There was a couple of ‘men of the road’ who visited weekly and were given tea and sandwiches, respect, dignity and of course, some of her mischief!
Her present Community where she has lived for the past eight years had the privilege of living with Frances during these recent years and were able to minister to her during her illness. Srs. Brigid, Josie and Pauline ensured that she was able to return home on her final journey to God, this was so important to her. She was so grateful and appreciative of every act of kindness towards her, though as Brigid said, ‘it was so easy to care for Frances’.
Frances spent her life caring for others. The Parishioners were her priority and she gave them constant support; a flask of coffee and biscuits was provided when they were church cleaning, she was a regular taxi driver for elderly and housebound to appointments, hospital and church celebrations and a constant presence and support to the schools; parents, pupils, staff and governors.
Frances ministered to the people who could no longer be part of the worshipping community by bringing them Holy Communion and keeping them in touch with the life of the Parish-this was a very valuable part of her ministry.
Frances worked with many Priests during her 46 years of ministry. Her vibrant character, nurturing spirit, sense of humour and dignified consistency ensured that the Parishes she served in were a better place for her presence!
Frances’ family meant the world to her. She gave lots of support and love to them and received lots of love and support in return. She had regular contact and wanted to know who was doing what, and she was always ready with advice and wisdom. She prayed constantly for those she loved.
Frances was totally committed to her friends and it was a privilege to call her your friend. She encouraged you to believe in yourself completely and in her company, and with her belief in you, you could achieve anything! She was so proud of her friends.
Frances enjoyed the film, ‘A Woman of Substance’ with Meryl Streep portrayed as a strong woman. She also loved Meryl Streep in Mama Mia! These represent the breadth of Frances’ character – warm, deep, dignified, generous, nurturing and full of fun.
Many people felt that Frances still had lots more years of living in her and that God had taken her too soon! However, the last seven months have given Frances an opportunity to be ministered to, having ministered to others for many years. Her illness gave her time to be… something that rarely occurred when she was healthy. Those who journeyed with her were privileged. There were many sacred moments and her spirit of acceptance helped those who were struggling with the illness to take their strength from her… again!
Frances is now at peace. She loved butterflies and they were a recurring theme throughout her life. At the end of her life there was a true transfiguration where her broken body was like a cocoon waiting to release her spirit for eternity. She was surrounded by many she loved as they prayed for her on her journey to God.
We thank God for our ‘Woman of Substance’ who gave of herself so generously over the years and is now rewarded with the gift of eternal life. She will continue to care for us all and pray for us from heaven.
Do not say in sorrow “She has gone”,
Only say in thankfulness, “She was!”