Sister Teresa Clare Fitzpatrick
1926 – 2020
Born: 1st April 1926
Entered Religious Life: 23rd January 1944
Died: 5th April 2020
The following is the Reflection given by Sr Úna O’Neill, Provincial Leader at Sr Clare’s Funeral Mass
There is a depth of sadness in this Church today. It deeper and more painful than the sadness we feel at Clare’s death. It is a cosmic sadness because a virus grips our world and forces us to isolate and separate and suppress our emotions. It forces us to put artificial limits on our mourning – to celebrate our Mass in a Church that is almost empty; a virus that means that those of us here are separated. We share that experience with so many who are burying loved ones – in lonely isolation day by day. In that sense today’s reading from Isaiah is particularly appropriate for all of us: “Those who hope in the lord renew their strength . .”
In a funny way I think that Clare would be alright about it. She attended many funerals herself on her ipad in Belmont and she would be intrigued to think that there are others of her family, community, friends and neighbours attending with us here this morning through that same means.
Clare died peacefully on Sunday night. Her illness was short and even though none of her community or her family was with her, the nurses and doctors took our place. Thus came to an end the life of a woman of constancy, fidelity and generosity.
Born in 1944 to Patrick and Sabina in Athenry on 1st April 1926 she entered the Congregation in 1944 and thereafter spent her life in selfless service of others in Milltown, Hackney, Linden, Tramore, Seville Place, Temple Street and finally in Belmont Nursing Home. She was involved in the ministry of hospitality and she was Assistant Leader in two communities but her last assignment to the Social Services Centre in Sherrard Street drew her into the area of social work. She would have been at Mass here every day and knew and loved the parish and its people. Maybe her service to the needy is best summed up in the quotation from the Book of Job that is on the gravestone of our foundress Mary Aikenhead: I comforted the heart of the widow, I was an eye to the blind and a foot to the lame. To the poor I was a mother.
Clare’s needs were few, her living was simple and her days were centred on others. So it was a great delight for us to see how, in her latter years, her creative and artistic gifts blossomed. Part of the richness of her life was her relationship with her family whom she loved deeply, prayed for constantly and always welcomed happily.
Clare had a great capacity for gratitude. She was grateful for so much: her family, her community, the care in Belmont, the time she spent painting, the visits and the outings in these latter years. So today we give thanks to God for her life and pray that we too will hold fast to Jesus and to His promise of life, as she did. These are dark days for all of us. The future is unpredictable. We have lost control of our daily lives. Our daily choices are limited. We may well feel as if God has deserted us. But if our hearts are set on Christ, as Clare’s was, then in the midst of the dark moments, the suffering, the anxiety, we will know that the Lord is with us and that we can depend on him because his love for us is without limit.
In the Gospel today Jesus asks us to put our trust in him as the way, the truth and the life. He invites us to put our hope in his promise to be with us, steadily and constantly, as we try each day to walk his way, to speak his truth and to live His life.
When we live in dark times faith in God has to be the foundation stone, the unshakeable rock on which our lives are built. The future for Clare is safe in the fullness of God’s love. The future for us at this time in our history as a nation and a church is uncertain and insecure. But we are assured of one thing: that Jesus, through his resurrection is with us every moment of every day and that Clare too remains with us in a way we do not understand – loving us, caring for us, willing what is best for us. And so, as we say our goodbyes to a woman of constancy, fidelity and generosity we pray an ancient celtic blessing for her:
God of life, be with you,
God of love, absorb you
God of light, enfold you,
The Holy three, encircling thee into eternity.