Sister Margaret Bergin
1929 – 2021
Born: 1st January 1929
Entered Religious Life: 9th November 1953
Died: 5th June 2021
Reflection given by Sr Ann Marie McGeever at Sr Margaret’s Funeral Mass
Good morning, today we have gathered to celebrate and give thanks for the life of Sr Margaret Philomena Bergin or Joan, Auntie Joan the name she would have been known by her family and close friends. On behalf of the Sisters of Charity Irish Province and Stanhope Street Community, I welcome especially Madeleine her sister, her nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. To Fr Brian Grogan SJ our celebrant and cousin of Sr Margret we are happy to have you with us. To the sisters here present and all, who despite the restrictions, can join us via the webcam, we are delighted to have you with us also.
Joan Bergin was born on the 1st January 1929, she was a twin something she was very proud of and her relationship with her brother Donal was very special to her, as was that of her other siblings, Dick, Sheelagh and Madeleine.
She was educated by the Loreto Sisters in Bray and after leaving school she studied and graduated with a Diploma from the Grafton Academy in 1949. She was a very gifted woman, and any type of handcraft was no challenge for her. She had a good eye for colour and style and could turn the plainest of garments into a stylish piece with just a little embroidery or ribbon trim.
She entered Mount Saint Anne’s Milltown in 1953 and on being received into the novitiate some months later received the name Sr Margaret Philomena. Following her Profession in 1956 she was missioned to various houses in both Ireland and England, Kilkenny, Clonmel, Walthamstow and Bray to name but a few. She was involved in childcare, teaching domestic science and in the area of hospitality. In the late 1960’s she attended Sion Hill College and studied Home Economics, following this and up until her retirement, she was involved in the Secondary Schools in both Walkinstown and Stanhope Street.
It was said many times that she was an excellent teacher, always interested in the pupils and could control any class with little or in fact no words, a look from Margaret could say it all. I don’t think it would be wrong of me to say that at some point almost all of us here experienced or at least witnessed ‘the look’. She was kind to the pupils and helped many a student with books and uniforms over her years in both schools. I met two past pupils who called to see her some years ago and they said they could never forget her kindness and that only for her they would never have achieved all that they had in life. Such a lovely tribute to her, and I am certain there are many more who today are saying the same. To the girls newly arrived in the country and from different ethnic backgrounds she was particularly mindful, and helped them in whatever way she could to fit in.
She was a woman who loved to travel and enjoyed many holidays visiting many countries with family and friends. Her family were very important to her, and she loved the times she spent with her niece Joan, who was named after her and with whom she was very close, and indeed any occasion for all the family to gather.
She was very much a woman of routine and order, everything had its own place and even her daily walk, when she was able, took a particular route which always included a visit to the Capuchin Friary in Church Street to pray at the shrine of Padre Pio to whom she had great devotion and attributed her recovery from ill health many years ago, stating that it was he and the hands of a particular surgeon In St Vincent’s Hospital who healed her. She also had great devotion to Our Lady and the Sacred Heart.
The school for many years was her life and so she found retirement both hard and lonely, she loved company and enjoyed trips out in the car no matter where you were going. She possessed a quick wit and could render someone lost for words in a minute. I remember on one occasion she was asked by a health professional what the big thing happening in the country at that particular moment was (it was the time of the Presidential election) her response as quick as lightning was ‘I came out so early this morning I hadn’t time to read the paper’. What could one say after that?
For the last four years Sr Margaret was a resident in Evergreen Unit in Belmont Nursing Home. She was very happy there and the staff were very good to her. Sometimes when we visited she would cut the visit short saying she had to go as she was very busy, and the staff remarked that often when a new resident arrived she would assume the role of companion to that person, in a sense she was continuing to reach out and help others as she did all her life.
We extend our thanks today to Mons Ciaran O’Carroll and the team here in Donnybrook for facilitating us this morning and to Bourke’s undertakers for assisting us along the way. Profound and deepest thanks are due to the Staff of Evergreen Unit in Belmont, words will never express our thanks for the care and love you showed to Sr Margaret.
To Margaret we say, Rest now in Peace with the Lord.