Final Farewell to Sr. Mary Nugent in Magheramore, 14th October, 2019

Welcome Address by Sr. Rose Gallagher.

On behalf of the Sisters here in Magheramore, it is my privilege to welcome you all, and in particular, to welcome you,

Sr. Mary’s family and friends who have come to say farewell to your beloved Mary.

And today, we are mindful of Mary’s sister Brigid and her brother Tom in the US who are unable to attend.

 Welcome also to our priest friends the Columban Fathers…Our Resident chaplain, Fr. John Hickey, Our Parish Priest Fr. Donal Roche,Our valued Staff members and our own Sisters who have travelled to be with us.

Our gratitude to Fr. Tony O’Brien who will lead us in our Liturgy together with our priest concelebrants.

It must have delighted Jesus when he found someone with a heart so much like his own – a heart unremittingly open, especially to the little ones, the least and the last…that was Mary’s!

No preambles or preludes were needed when you met withMary… you had direct and immediate access to her loving heart…such love promptingher little grand-niece to write “Aunty Mary, I hope you’ll be better soon, I love you to the moon and back!I am so sad you are sick”!

We cannot but conclude that Mary’s hospitality of heart, was learned at hearth and home, as was her faith, that carried her across the world on mission to Korea.

And what a joy it was for her to be missioned to Korea where her brother Fr. Walter was…both of them labouring together among a people whom they loved and served so well.

And now as we begin the Mass, we give thanks to God for Mary and in the Offertory procession Mary’s vows will be carried…offering to God her entire life dedicated to mission.May she help us all now in the mission entrusted to us.

After the burial, we look forward to having you all join us for a meal in the Convent Dining Room.

We are happy for you Mary, you are home now with the One whom your heart loved.

May you rest in His Peace. 

Homily at Sister Mary Nugent’s Funeral Mass, Magheramore.

By Sr. Mary McHugh. 

Good morning to you all.  Welcome to our celebration of Mary Nugent’s life and Mission, and now her entry into Heaven.

What a colourful rich missionary life she had.  She entered Cahiracon in October 1952 at the age of 18 years.  Her brother Walter, a year older, had entered the Columban Fathers, Dalgan Park.  Mary entered with my sister Kathleen McHugh and both our families became friends on their visits to Cahiracon during visiting novitiate days.  Our mothers wrote to each other and sadly when Mary’s mother died prematurely my mother continued to write to Mary.

Fr. Walter was assigned to Korea after ordination.  After her studies Mary was assigned to Burma.  While awaiting her visa she was sent to Hong Kong where she worked in the T.B. hospital.  Because of the political situation in Burma she never got there and instead was sent to Korea in 1963.  She was delighted to be near her beloved brother “Wally”.

She mastered the language and made lifelong friends in Mokpo, Samcheok and Seoul.  Mary loved the outdoors and was always full of life.  She was a free spirit, she climbed every mountain in every province with the parishioners and the Columban priests.  Her faith was deep and uncluttered.  Her motto taken at her first profession “To Jesus through Mary”.  This motto enfolded her during her whole life.

“How lovely on the mountains are those who bring Good News”.  Mary travelled the many mountain villages in Samcheok to vaccinate all the children against the deadly diseases of polio, diphtheria, whooping cough and measles.  She was aided by a nurse and catechist funded by Oxfam.  Two hundred children and their mothers would eagerly await Mary and her team in the parish hall. Before long the smiling gurgling babies became a wailing mass of hurt and indignation. The mothers had many questions for Mary. After a meal of rice and seaweed soup they set off again for the next parish hall.

In today’s gospel we heard:

Matt. 25 “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me”. 

Mary spent 50 years in Korea where she is fondly remembered by so many people.  She helped them through traumatic times of illness and death.  She cared for them in their homes.  She was supported by you, her family in her missionary work and you, her family were part of that mission.

Father Walter was pastor in Kangwondo.  He was a great support to Mary and indeed to all the Columban sisters in Korea.

In Korea before a person dies they call their immediate family to them to share with them their last words.  A patient of Mary’s was preparing to die, his family had gathered and the patient insisted that Mary should be there. She was part of his family to him.

Mary loved scripture and she avidly studied the Korean text. She was participating in a new venture of weekly sharing of the gospels among the laity and the people loved it. Mary had a lot of ill health in the last decade of her life, but she was a fighter and fought the good fight.

At the end Mary was peaceful and full of gratitude to the sisters and staff who cared for her so lovingly.  She was not the slightest bit afraid to die, she called her family and said her goodbyes and how she loved you all.  She loved us too and the Columban Fathers.  She deeply loved the Korean people and to the very end of her life as the song said “she did it my way”.

Last Wednesday whilst visiting with Mary she told me they were preparing John Henry Newman’s canonisation and she was a great admirer of his.  I will finish with the words of John Henry Newman

May He support us all the day long, till the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done! Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last! Amen. 


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