Sister Joanna Brennan
1944 – 2013
Born: 2nd March 1944
Entered Religious Life: 7th October 1963
Died: 2nd January 2013
Appreciation of Sr Joanna Brennan
Eulogy given at Sr Joanna’s funeral by Sr Jacinta Boland RSC
We are here today to celebrate the life of Joanna Brennan known by her family as Ann. She was the second daughter of Nan and John Brennan. She had six other sisters, Betty, Mary, Imelda, Goretti, Rita, and Catherine. Joanna grew up in a caring happy family. She remembers her early childhood without radio or television. The long winter evenings were spent around the fire being taught poetry and prayer by her mother. She was educated by the Sisters of Charity in Benada Primary School and was among the first intake to Benada Secondary Top in 1958. From about the age of fifteen she felt she wanted to be a Sister of Charity. This was influenced by the support her family had received from the Sisters. Whenever her father felt worried he would visit the Sisters and ask for prayers. He always returned from these visits with his spirits lifted and full of hope.
Joanna joined the Sisters of Charity in October 1963 and made her profession in April 1966. When she was due to renew her vows she was ill in hospital and had to renew her vows while in there. This began a life of ill health which plagued her for most of her life. Her great desire was to become a nurse. This was not to be and instead Joanna was devoted to Child Care from 1969 to 1982 in Walthamstow, St. Joseph’s Kilkenny and Basildon. She also spent a year in Ballybane as a care assistant. Joanna returned to the English/Scottish Province in 1983 and went to Knowle West. Apart from a short Sabbatical she remained there until she died completely devoted and dedicated to her Ministry.
Joanna loved the people of Knowle West and was deeply moved by the resilience and determination of the women there to create a better life for themselves. She always said these people had taught her so much about life and about the things that really mattered. She was supported for many years by Fr. Richard MacKay and the other parish priests who followed over the years. Although Joanna was not blessed with good health, it never prevented her from doing her duties and her work within Knowle West. When it was no longer possible for her to be physically out and about, she continued to support people who came to see her in the Convent.
Joanna was a woman of deep Faith who lived her life in the knowledge she was supported by her family, her community, her Province, and the Congregation. She also had tremendous support from her friends and all those who shared her journey throughout her life. Joanna was a wise woman, a strong woman, a prayerful woman, a faithful woman, a woman who never forgot the lessons she learned at home. Joanna was a humble woman and never pretended to be something she was not. Above all she was a peace maker.
She enjoyed life, loved reading and listening to RTE Radio. Her family were of paramount importance to her and she always enjoyed her holidays at home, engaging with the next generation and sharing their aspirations for the future. She was extremely proud of her Nieces and Nephews and also her Grand Nephews and Nieces.
Joanna had a steely determination and wished to be remembered not by her ill health but by the way she loved and lived life to the full. The last year was difficult for her and challenging for the community as they watched her battle with her final illness. She had hoped 2013 would be a time when she would have the energy and strength to see two of her Nieces getting married. She herself would be celebrating the Golden Jubilee of her entrance to Religious life as a Sister of Charity.
2013 will be different for Joanna as she is now celebrating life with the God she served so faithfully and loved so deeply. She is now at peace and as we mourn her loss we give thanks for the privilege of knowing this wise, kind, loving, faithful woman.
Lord. “For your faithful people life is changed not Ended. “
Rest in peace, Joanna