Sister Finian Bourke
1913 – 2014
Born: 5th June 1913
Entered Religious Life: 2nd February 1942
Died: 25th August 2014
Maura, daughter of Patrick and Mary Bourke (nee Burke) was born in Coonough, Carbury, Co. Kildare on the 5th June 1913. She was the seventh child in a family of ten, six boys and four girls. She was the first girl in the family and was affectionately known as Stóirín. She received her secondary education at the Dominican College, Eccles Street, Dublin. She entered the novitiate of the Religious Sisters of Charity in Milltown on 2nd February 1942 and received the habit and the name Sr. Mary Finian on 27th August 1942. She made her Religious Profession on 30th August 1944.
After profession she was missioned to the infirmary in Merrion. Having spent twenty-eight years in Merrion, she was then appointed as Local Leader in Lakelands, a post she held for nine years. During her time in Lakelands she witnessed many changes. The new convent was built during her term of office. She also served as Manager of the Primary School and the new Primary School was built during that time. From 1981 to 1987 she served as Local Leader in St. Joseph’s, Kilkenny. From 1987 to 1994 she was assistant to the Local Leader in Baldoyle, after which she retired but continued to live in Baldoyle until 2009, when she returned to Lakelands.
Sr. Mary Finian was a gentle woman, a woman filled with deep faith. She was greatly loved by all with whom she lived and worked. Since the death of Sr. Joseph Kelly in May of this year, she had the distinction of being the oldest member of the Congregation at 101. On the 14th of June she attended the fortieth anniversary of Star of the Sea School in Sandymount, where she had the honour of cutting the 40th birthday cake. She had been the school manager when the school opened forty years ago. Her photograph was proudly displayed on the notice board.
Sr. Finian had a keen interest in sport and captained her local camogie team before she entered. She followed the GAA matches and supported the Kildare team to the end.
Sr. Finian received a personal invitation the Closing Ceremony (Statio Orbis) of the Eucharistic Congress which was held on Sunday 17th June 2012 in Croke Park. She was seated in a special area among those who had attended the 1932 Congress as was her sister Sr. Josephine Bourke. Sr. Finian was nineteen years old and her sister Josephine was nine years old when they attended the 1932 Congress.
She celebrated her 100th Birthday on 5th June 2013 and chose her own readings for the Mass and also decided on who was to be invited to the celebration. Fr. Bergin was the chosen celebrant. When the official came from Áras an Uachtaráin to verify that she was resident in Lakelands she conducted most of the conversation through the Irish language to the amazement of the official.
Her devotion to Mary Aikenhead was very much alive and her response to any request was ‘I will pray to Mother Aikenhead’. Naomh Brid, patron of Cill Dara was another of her favourite saints.
Her years in religious life were spent almost entirely in Dublin, except for the six years spent in Kilkenny. Sr. Finian was a woman who grew old gracefully and she was greatly loved by the staff in Lakelands. This was evident by the way they spoke to her and looked after her. The photograph on the booklet prepared for her funeral liturgy was taken on the 15th August, just about ten days before she died.
Sr. Finian died peacefully on 25th August 2014. Her remains were returned to Lakelands on the afternoon of 26th. A large crowd joined us for Evening Prayer to celebrate her life and many more visited later that evening. She was removed to Star of the Sea Church on the morning of the 27th where her requiem Mass was celebrated. She was buried in Donnybrook Cemetery.
Her cheerful smile and sense of humour, as well as her unfailing kindness, will always be remembered by those who knew her. May she rest in peace.