Mass for Sr. Maureen Byrne, Magheramore, 29-5-2019
Sr. Maureen’s Funeral Mass. Welcome 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, dear Laura, Pauline, Deirdre, Geraldine, Elaine, and your families, Maureen’s relatives and friends, who have come to say farewell to your beloved Maureen.
Welcome also to our priest friends, the Columban Fathers, our valued Staff members and our own sisters who have travelled to be with us.
Our gratitude to Fr. John our resident chaplain, who will lead us in our Liturgy together with our priest concelebrants.
How often Maureen would have sung the Hymn: “Be Thou my Vision” and today, we cannot but conclude that God, was indeed, Maureen’s vision, by night and by day.
We saw her life assume a certainty of direction, her sails calmly set;Our Lady, her guiding Star as she gave daily expression to God’s own attributes of gentleness and tenderness and unwavering thoughtfulness for all around her. Unbound by her limitations, she brought eac hone’s care and concern to God in prayer.
Maureen’s heart will continue to beat for us all in heaven…a sure presence when we need a listening ear; an unceasing prayer, to mind and guide us.
Today, as we say farewell to you, Maureen we are happy for you, now home in Heaven, in the safekeeping of Our Lady,
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.
Homily at the Mass for Sister Maureen Byrne in Magheramore 29.5.2019
Our lovely Maureen left us quietly on Sunday afternoon. She slipped away gently, willingly, having for some days, as she told her beloved sister, Laura, been with the angels. She was ready to go.
This was a woman who was always ready, always mirroring our Lady’s great ‘Fiat’, ‘Be it done unto me according to your word.’ These words she had engraved on her ring, enabling her to accept in faith whatever came her way. How well our psalm today which we have just sung, shows forth her spirit: “In Your peace I have maintained my soul, I have kept my heart in your quiet peace.”
So even as we mourn her going from us, our grief is not without a powerful hope. How could it be otherwise during this Easter season when the glory, the beauty and the strength of the Resurrected Jesus permeates our very bones. As we heard in the first reading, the Song of Songs, “The season of glad songs has come.” This is surely a solace to all of us here, but especially to Laura and her daughters, Pauline, Deirdre, Geraldine and Elaine, the family so precious to Maureen.
Maureen, a true Dub, was not yet 17 when she crossed the threshold in Cahiracon. Even at that young age, she knew, very clearly, that God was calling her to be a missionary. What great faith she had, what courage to follow this call heard in her heart! And we must think too of the faith of her parents to let her, their eldest daughter, travel an unknown road tofollow her vocation. Blessed are they, all now united in Christ in heaven.
After training as a nurse Maureen, now called Immaculata, was sent to Hong Kong where she nursed tubercular patients in the Ruttonjee Sanatorium. A brilliant nurse, an excellent administrator and a nursing tutor, she held many demanding roles over the years but it was her gentle approach, her warm smile and her lovely laughter that won people over. “People are ‘my thing”, she admitted, and they knew this and felt her acceptance of them. Patients and staff loved her and many became long time friends. The Legion of Mary Praesidia of which she was the spiritual director knew that they had a treasure, a wise guide in this prayerful woman. Her love of scripture, her fidelity to prayer no matter how hard the trials she faced,brought her oceans of peace and the strength to endure the diminishments that came her way. When Vatican 2 came in the sixties and seventies with all the radical changesof the Council, how enthusiastically she studied the documents, attended endless meetings and encouraged the sisters to be part of this great movement of the Spirit. Her missionary calling deepened during these often turbulent years. There was nothing heavy or stuffy in her approach. In community her sense of fun, her lovely singing voice and her warm hospitality enlivened many a gathering, uplifted many a heart.
In the late seventies Maureen was sent to London Colney, where she adjusted to a very different ministry with the same graciousness that characterised all her life. The same is true when she came to Crumlin as housekeeper and bursar. Her eyesight continued to fail but despite the ‘dying of the light’, her spirit seemed to grow brighter. We were privileged to have her here among us in later years, her presence a benediction for everyone. Her wise guidance, her unfailing encouragementwere always readily dispensed, gifts to uplift each one of us. Always grateful, she forever sang the praises of the staff who cared for her. As a line in the hymn goes, “Her peaceful presence everywhere is giving strength”.
What was the secret of this greatly loved and loving woman? It is surely held in the gospel we just heard, “Love one another, just as I have loved you.” Look at Jesus. His compassion, his mercy, his unconditional acceptance of each one, warts and all. For nearly 90 years Maureen soaked in these words, was nourished by them, lived them as shefollowed this Lord,with a spilling-over joy.We too are called to this loving relationship – to share in and be nourished by the Lord who lives in us and among us.
It has been said that death is like a lamp now quenched because the dawn has come. Dawn has come for Maureen living now in the radiance of the Risen Lord. Let me end with a prayer of St Columban who prayed that our lamps be always lighted and never extinguished: “Give me such a share in your Light, I entreat you, O Lord, that it may reveal to me the Holy of Holies.”
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