Sister Joy Carmody. R.I.P.

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, Sr. Joy’s family, who have come to say farewell to your much loved Aunty Joy. We are mindful of Joy’s brother and sister-i-law , and extended family who are closely united with us this morning.                                                                                                                                                        Welcome also to our priest friends, the Columban Fathers and our local priests, 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.

Our gratitude also to Sr. Ann Breen who is our homilist today.

Something that was foundational in Joy’s life was HOSPITALITY, a hospitality that was surely learned at her hearth and home in Carrigaholt and that shaped her entire life.

Joy was most at home and Gospel-grounded when reaching out to the least and the little, and a reprimand would follow if she detected even a hint of anything less than generous in a response to need!

Today, we give thanks to God for this impressively relational Sister as she takes her leave of us and returns to the Trinity, whose relational heart she mirrored so well in every corner, country and culture she encountered.

Following the burial, we look forward to having you join us for a meal in our Convent Dining Room

Dear Joy, may Heaven’s hospitality extend the warmest of welcomes to you, a Cead Mile Mile Failte.

Homily. Sr. Ann Breen

Good morning to all of you who have come to be with us today as we say our last goodbye to our beloved Joy, who left us for heaven so unexpectedly last Thursday.  I join with Rose in welcoming you all, especially you her family whom she loved so much.  As we grieve for her loss, we thank God for the gift she was to all us, and confidently trust that the God she served so faithfully  has brought her into his Kingdom of eternal life and light where she is united with her beloved parents and brother, Fr. Patrick.

Joy was born, as she often told us, on Easter Sunday, 21st April 1935, as the angelus bell was ringing.  A baby sister had died a few years before, so that her safe arrival was a special cause of celebration and also the cause of her being called Joy – because of the great joy that her birth had brought.   By a coincidence, Easter Sunday this year was also 21st April, her eighty-fourth birthday, so, with the exception of the past two months, it could be said that she lived her entire life between two Easter Sundays!  She loved Ireland, especially her own Co. Clare, and Carrigaholt where she grew up.  She loved the majestic River Shannon, and had many stories of happenings on the river. She loved the Irish language, traditional Irish music and everything Irish. But Joy also knew, through her faith, that she had been chosen by God for the missionary way of life, which would take her away for long periods from the places and people that she loved. Her choice of motto: “Through him, with him, in him,” shows that she knew where her strength to live out her vocation would come from.  As a Columban Sister, she trusted fully in her God, who carried her “on eagles’ wings”  all her life, through times of difficulty and times of success, from the time she answered God’s call with the energy of a young woman, to her later years, when she struggled with the disability of memory loss.  With St. Paul she could say: ‘For Christ I have accepted the loss of everything’.  Having answered God’s call, she gave herself generously to responding to it;   indeed Joy had two gifts which guided her life: she was a woman of faith, and she was a woman for others.

During her long active life, Joy had a varied apostolic career.   After her profession in 1958, she was assigned to Dublin for studies and in 1963 she set out on her first missionary journey, by boat, to the Philippines.  Her destination there was the northern Province of Pangasinan where she spent the next fourteen years, between the towns of Lingayen and Labrador.  There she gave herself generously to the education apostolate, not only to her own assigned classes, but also reaching out to the priests who were working there. She travelled with catechists to distant barrios; she worked out  lesson plans for the  priests so that they could train these catechists to be more effective   Her help in that area was very much appreciated, and more than one of these priests has spoken warmly of her kindness and helpfulness to them in their early days.  Even with all that, she found time to make brown bread for some of the priests who liked it!  It was during this time too that she became Principal of the school in Labrador, a town near Lingayen.   This was a big responsibility but she took it on and worked hard to build it up during the time she was assigned there.  Shortly after her arrival in the Philippines she had studied Library Science, was a very gifted librarian, and was most generous in sharing her skills, both in the Philippines and here in Magheramore.  She returned to Ireland in 1977, but was back in Lingayen in 1979 for one year before being assigned to the central house in San Juan, Manila as Regional Bursar,  a particularly heavy responsibility at the time because there was an on-going building project there which she helped to supervise.  She was housekeeper also during the years in San Juan, and was always welcoming to all who came there. She remained in Manila until 1986, when she finally left the Philippines.  She was not yet ready to rest on her laurels however, and after two years here in Magheramore, she was assigned to East Kilbride in Scotland, where she spent five happy years. She loved Scotland and its people, and her ministry as hospital chaplain there gave scope to her unique gift of reaching out to people with warmth and compassion, gaining their confidence and listening to their difficulties and needs.  Returning to Ireland in 2004, she was assigned to the house in Crumlin for nine years until 2013.  Her ministry during this time included Eucharistic ministry in St. James’ Hospital and, as was usual for her, she entered wholeheartedly into this ministry too.  It made her especially happy to meet elderly patients from outside of Dublin, who were far from home and often very lonely.   It was during this time too however that it became obvious that her health was failing, and eventually she was no longer able to continue the Eucharistic ministry. Even then, she did what she could.  She attended a day care centre in the parish a few days a week, and while there, she taught the other women in the centre how to knit.  Finally, in 2013, it became obvious that she was no longer able to give, but needed to receive care herself, and she joined the community in Magheramore.  She found this very difficult, but gradually, with her characteristic care for others, she tried to give companionship to some of the Sisters who were more in need than herself.  Despite her own difficulties, she remained a woman for others during her time in the Nursing Home. She will be remembered for her sense of humour and wry turn of phrase, and for her sometimes gruff exterior, behind which was a very kind heart.  She was a presence in our community and she will not be forgotten.

As we prepare to say our final farewell to Joy, I would like to say it in the words of Sr. Gloria Santos, one our Sisters from Pangasinan who sent an e-mail which concludes as follows:
As you say goodbye to Joy, please whisper this to her: Sr. Joy, from Pangasinan, we, your Columban Sisters: Mercy, Ann Rita, Cristita, me, Gloria, our families, your former students and friends, send you our love and gratitude.  We send you the sound of the waves of Lingayen gulf and the sea breeze to kiss your lips gently, the warmth of the sunshine and the beauty of the sunset to enfold your soul, and the song of the seabirds to accompany you with joy on your return journey to God.




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