Funeral Mass was on Monday March 9, 2009 in the convent chapel after which she was buried in the convent cemetery.
May she rest in peace.
Sister Mary Bernadette Connolly died in Magheramore on March 6, 2009, and was laid to rest on March 9 in the convent cemetery where daffodils were proclaiming that spring had arrived. She was in her one hundred and second year, oldest Sister so far in the history of the Congregation.
Her life spanned four continents. She was born in South Africa in 1907, grew up in Ireland from where she went as a Columban Sister, first to China, then to the Philippines and next to the United States. Having withdrawn from active ministry in the United States she returned to Ireland where she spent the final years of her life.
Her stamina in situations of danger was expressive of her sturdy character and her ‘not an inch’ stance where matters of gospel principles or gospel witness were in question. She lived carefully and consistently the motto: ‘Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus’, which she chose on her Final Profession day, as she made her way through the ups and downs of her missionary life. The trying final years of her earthly life tested this motto, sometimes severely, as she yielded to the gradual loss of independence, replacing it with patient waiting for God’s coming to bring her Home.
The greatest occasion of her final two years on earth was the attention she received from the President of Ireland on her one hundredth birthday, June, 2007. She awaited eagerly the cheque for €2000 from the President, and made sure that it was on its way to China at the earliest opportunity. She treasured the silver medal which she received from the President on her hundred and first birthday, but by that time she had her heart fixed very firmly on the greatest treasure, Heaven.
The influence of her life on her Columban Sisters, on relatives, friends and her devoted carers in the Nursing Home was reflected at her funeral. Every Columban Sister who could travel was there. Her cousin, Monsignor Noel Woods, travelled from Scotland and, as she had instructed him several years ago, celebrated her funeral Mass. Her nephews, Tom and Michael Wright came with their wives, Marie and Ursula, and, as they had been commissioned several years ago also, bore her coffin to her grave. Cousins Moya Higgins and Fr. Aidan McGrath O.F.M. were also in attendance as were the Sloan family from Dundalk, Co. Louth, who represented generations of friendship between the Connolly and Sloan families. Mrs Carmel Bolger and Myles Leonard, faithful friends and weekly visitors were there, saddened by the passing of one very dear to them. Staff past and present came to bid a final farewell to her who had cheered, sometimes chided, but always cherished them for the care with which they ministered to her as she grew weaker and more dependent upon their great kindness.
All are saddened by her absence now, but, equally, all are glad that her earthly journey is over and that she now walks the green fields of Heaven in the company of her beloved parents who consented to her following her missionary calling when she was only nineteen years old. She is with her cherished friends from days in China, the Philippines, and the United States, as well as with all her Columban Sisters, relatives and friends who have preceded her into Eternity.