Funeral Mass for Sr. Marie Galvin at Magheramore on Monday January 20th 2020.
On behalf of the Sisters here in Magheramore, it is my privilege to welcome you all, and in particular, to welcome you, Liam, Bernie, Sr. Mairead, and extended family and friends, who have come to say farewell to your much loved Marie.
Welcome to our priest friends the Columban Fathers, especially those who laboured together with Marie on mission in Pakistan.
Welcome also to the Presentation Sisters;
- To Frs. Eamonn Crosson and Des Doyle, Diocesan Priests;
- to Michael Liston, a Spiritan Brother who knew Marie in Pakistan;
- to our valued Staff members, and our own sisters who travelled to be with us.
Our gratitude to Fr. John Hickey, our resident Chaplain, who will lead us in our Liturgy together with our priest concelebrants.
In a special way this morning, we connect with the people of Pakistan, through a message sent by Rebecca, who worked there with Marie for 20 years and who is united in prayer with us at this time.
Rebecca’s message begins with a quote from one of Marie’s favourite Scripture passages.
“The loving-kindness of the heart of our God
who visits us like the dawn from on high.
He will give light to those in darkness,
those who dwell in the shadow of death,
and guide us into the way of peace”.
We thank God today for Marie and for the vision she had, a woman small in stature, with a vision bold enough to open the Congregation up to the world of Islam and a daring spirit which overcame mighty obstacles.
Now Marie, you are embraced in the loving kindness of the heart of our God who thirsted for you and where you will hold all the broken hearts of those whom you loved in Pakistan, where you are remembered with great love and loss. Your thirst is over as you have entered eternal life.
Khuda Hafiz, Marie.
God be with you.
Homily for Sr. Marie Galvin’s Funeral Mass. Mary Nolan
Marie has passed into the hands of God, the God she thirsted for all her life – as we see in her motto – the God who chose her, invited her to be ‘friend’, and sent her to bear lasting fruit, the fruit of Love. Growing up in her loving family in Bandon, Co. Cork, she learned to love as she was loved. When she finished school she was drawn into the field of education where as a young teacher she was able to share life and love with the children at Primary level. It was a good time but she sought more.
On a pilgrimage to Lourdes in the mid 50’s she felt a deeper Call – to be a missionary Sister. After a struggle she responded to that Call, and she kept that moment and experience of Call to the fore as she took her Religious name, Sr. Mary de Lourdes. Mary was to be her guide as she set out on her missionary journey – and Joseph was never far away!
After 1st Profession in Magheramore Marie was given her first mission assignment – to the United States. Mission in California may not have been her first preference, but once assigned she threw herself fully into ministry there. She was a born educator and loved the new challenges she met in the classroom, especially with the recently arrived Mexican Americans. She empathized with them in their difficulties and became a friend to many of those families. I first met Marie in East Los Angeles in 1972 when I was assigned to her school, Our Lady of Guadalupe. As a very greenhorn I experienced 1st hand her kindness and understanding, with no patronizing.
Marie continued in ministry in Los Angeles until 1977 when she became the Regional Superior of the US. In that role she faced the many challenges of change that resulted from Vatican 11. Her unique leadership qualities came to the fore as she took her place in Religious Leadership in the Church and Congregation. One aspect of her responsibility as Regional Superior was to accompany the Sisters in the Area of Peru. That meant visiting the Sisters in Lima and becoming familiar with that mission. Marie loved those visits as she felt she was getting closer to what she would call ‘real mission’. She felt enlivened by our search to be bearers of The Word to the poor of the ‘barriadas’ of Lima in those early days of Liberation Theology. We were always both challenged and enriched by her visits.
In the Chapter of 1981 Marie was elected to the General Council, and for 6 years she served as Secretary General. In that role she was in touch with all the members of the Congregation, and became familiar with our joys and sorrows on the broader level. In her travels overseas she got to know something of Asia and the different challenges faced by the sisters missioned there. Going form the Christian West and experiencing the diversity of the East added more colour to her missionary heart.
Six years later on in her role there was another Chapter and Marie was elected Superior General. Her ‘funny bone’ drew many comments from her about that title as she’d quip that she was neither superior not a general! In her new role she found scope to look anew at the Congregation. There were many challenges to be faced in many areas, from Formation to closures, to taking on new mission involvements. In the Chapter of ’87 Pakistan had emerged as a possible place for new mission. On exploratory visits to that country Marie was fascinated by all the differences she encountered. She felt drawn to encourage a new beginning, and 2 years on new mission in Pakistan had become a reality.
As well as her work as Superior General, Marie was involved in mission on a wider level being elected President of the Irish Missionary Union. She served a 3 year term in that role, a role that put her in touch with mission around the world, from Africa to India. She gave of herself generously in the many meetings she had to attend, and contributed greatly through her human warmth and intelligence.
Finally Marie completed her term in Congregational Leadership and was free to take on a new mission assignment. As she discerned about this she found that she was being drawn to get inserted in mission in Pakistan. She laid her hand to the plough and there was no turning back. From 1995 until her return to Ireland in 2018 she was fully invested in journeying with the people of Hyderabad and Kunri. Havinggot through the initial hurdles of adaptation she found many openings for sharing her expertise and training the young teachers, and strove to open their eyes to more creative ways of dealing with children. She felt satisfaction as she saw their efforts, and felt frustration as she often saw them fall back into the traditional rote learning. But she loved them all and they knew it.
Of course during those years in Pakistan Marie lived with her communities among the Muslim and Hindu people. The way of Dialogue was part of her whole commitment, and she reached out to all with her ready smile and encouragement. She was with the people as they dealt with natural disasters as well as religious and political upheavals. And she would be the first to say that she received more than she gave.
So today we’re experiencing joy in the midst of sorrow as we know Marie has reached that Water for which she thirsted. We can imagine her relishing that fact that all can come to satisfy their thirst – thirst for life and thirst for God – as Isaiah tells us in the 1st Reading “Coming…without money and at no cost, buying and drinking wine and milk”. We can imagine her watching the crowds and among them she sees her beloved ParkariKoli women and children as well as the many ‘have-nots’ of Pakistan and beyond. Marie surely lived out the message we heard from John’s Gospel: “There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
‘Ardheis De go raibhaanamdilis”