Mary O'Dea+Sister Mary O’Dea passed away peacefully in St James’s Hospital, Dublin, on Sunday, 11 October 2015. Removal of Remains on Tuesday, 13 October, at 5.30pm to the Convent Chapel, Magheramore, Wicklow. Funeral Mass on Wednesday at 11.30 a.m. followed by Interment in the Convent Cemetery.

Lord, we ask you to receive our Sister Mary into the eternal joy of your Kingdom. As she endeavoured to honour you during her life, so now allow her to taste the everlasting happiness which you promised to your faithful followers. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.



Words of welcome of Sr. Rose Gallagher during the Funeral Mass of Sr. Mary O’Dea.

“On behalf of the Sisters here in Magheramore,it is my great privilege to welcome you all…

and in particular to welcome you, Fr. Donie, Paul and Eileen and Sr. Mary’s extended family, her relatives and friends who have come to say farewell …

farewell to someone very special who stole away quietly leaving our hearts in disarray….floundering and floored….as our own Sr. Gloria said in her email:

“…our beloved Mary has gone back to God…so suddenly, no goodbyes, no parting words…”

And I thought how Mary would want that strength would flow from our shared grief and our shared faithon this day as we celebrate her life…together with you the family;

our priest friends the Columban Fathers;the Dominican Sisters; our valued Staff members and our own sisters who have travelled to be with us.

And what a blessing it is to have Sr. Mary’s own brother Fr. Donie, leading us in our Liturgy today accompanied by so many concelebrants… (21 in all).

Having you Fr. Donie as the Main Celebrant today has spared us untold trouble with Rome as we would have had to locate a Woman Celebrant somewhere

to lead this Liturgy if we were to honour Mary’s dream and see her deep heart desire realised!

… and imagine that Pope Francis never got around to answering her letter on these weighty matters!

The large numbers here today bear testimony to Mary’s remarkable relational qualities…qualities that mirror so well those of our Triune God in whose embrace she now rests.

And we know also how those same relational qualities transformed the lives of the people of Caliche,

the Parish in Lima where Mary worked…and how greatly saddened they must be that their friend won’t be coming back … let us be mindful of them now … and gather them into this Eucharistic moment together with all those who are unable to be with us today…including our Sisters in Peru, the US and all our Missions…may Mary’s love for them stir up their hope on dark days and remind them of God’s tender and unfailing care for them.

We will miss you dearly loved Mary.

May the light of God’s Face shine gently on you.

Que te vaya con Dios.”


Homily given by Fr. Donal O’Dea during the funeral Mass of Sr. Mary O’Dea:

My Sister Mary / Your Sister Mary / Madre Maria

Greetings:  Relatives, friends/Columban Brothers and Sisters and all her present –

Welcome to this celebration of Mary’s life – a life like all of us with many facets – ups and downs, surprises, disappointment.  Each of us who knew her can tell of our own memories of a lovely persons and we do this to the background and in relation to another life – Christ’s life, death and resurrection – which is what we are celebrating in the Mass

Sr. Mary was our blood Sister.  Sr. Mary was your Sister as a Columban and she was Madre Maria to the people of the small community she helped each weekend in Lima and in the many tasks, places and countries where she worked and lived.

Mary was an open person – she wore her heart on her sleeve and she loved people in a very personal way.

A teacher – she liked to tell stories and one of the earliest I remember was when as a child in Quin, she came into our mother and told her that the mother hen in the yard was calling the chicks to come home and that they were totally ‘ignoring her’ – just like we ourselves do to our mother, she said.

I was 10 when she was born February 1, 1938 in Blackfoot Castlebar – I remember it well – the feast of St. Brigid and that is why she was Mary Brigid – and the young Sister who grew up and became a Columban, had the disconcerting habit of letting me know that she loved me, but was not afraid to tell me and also not afraid to tell me that my life style of smoking etc. was not to her liking – but not just me as she once threatened a fellow schoolmate in primary school, to leave her small brother alone or she would throw him into the Quin River off the bridge.

Due to our age difference, she next came into my life as a Columban Sister visiting in the Philippines and had no hesitation in telling me, smoking etc. was no good.

I told her I had given them up, until the cook at a dinner in St. Joseph’s,. Olongapo City, started searching around for an ash tray and planked it in front of me – the only smoker she knew around!

Having graduated with a B.A. from UCD, Mary was assigned to teach Mexican immigrants in southern California and also promoted mission in Churches on the weekends since the Sisters had very limited resources at that time.  During summers she studied for her Masters in Chicago.

Mary was asked by the Columban Fathers to help in preparing an audio visual lesson plan for the Priests going around the schools (in the U.S.) for mission appeals – most of the priests had no experience in teaching, especially at elementary level and it took the poor teacher a whole day to get the kids back to some discipline after Father had tried to impress them with his heroic stories.  The program which the teachers themselves could use was and is very successful.

Mary also had a lifelong personal complaint against the lack of inclusive language, especially in English, in the liturgy and the place of women in the Church – and always let it be known!  She once had a small confrontation in Boston with a bishop who was saying Mass on a side altar and she answering in inclusive language.  After Mass she followed the Bishop into the sacristy but it ended up in her being invited out to lunch!  She even wrote to Pope Francis on these matter but no answer yet.

While in the U.S. she was also the Regional Superior for 6 years and also the novice mistress for some years.

And then to Lima, as a bursar, but soon got herself involved every weekend in a small community in Caliche the outskirts – a long journey in public transport – it did not help her lungs –the dust and damp but that was Mary.

What has all this to do with our celebration of the Eucharist – of Christ’s life, death and resurrection?  “The Triumph of Failure” – Canon Sheehan.   It is a person, small per se and yet the communal effort, to spread the good news – by her life, her faith, her perseverance, her ability and willingness to express it in her life, in her relationship with others, especially in her own family and in her Columban community.  I am and others are the better for it.

There are times, when we tend to look back in nostalgia to the good days of Mission and figure we are finished and can do no more.  I am reminded of the Gospel story of some of the apostles after the passion and death of Christ, sitting at home in Galilee at the like – you can picture them – John, Peter, James etc. lying on the sand hills – silently looking back on what might have been and saying ‘I’m going fishing’ – back to what we knew and can do – it is over – and then Christ appears and asks “Did you catch anything?”   ‘No’ they said ‘Try again’ he said and here we are.  Some of those apostles we really never heard of again –

And here we are today we honour and say thanks to one and can easily remember others; and her life and that of others like her, will bear the good news of a loving Father and a dedicated Son to the world.  They and we together will be those people.

We hope for others to follow – let us be those persons – either like our Mary or tour Mother Mary standing at the foot of the Cross or our own St. Columban who wrote – “Lord give light to my lantern” Let us have light in our lanterns and that will be your gift and mine to our Mary – Ar deis De go raib an anam dilis,  Slan abaile.

Categories News Obituaries