History - St. Thomas More

Homily for Sister Brigid's Requiem Mass Friday March 16th 2007


I want to read to you now the tribute that was read last week at Louviers when we celebrated Sister's Funeral Mass. It was written by Mere Saint Martin, a contemporary and friend of Sister Brigid. It gives us a glimpse of the way she was appreciated by the Sisters of Providence.

"Cheerful, spontaneous, full of life - Sister Brigid often surprised us. She was almost a universal sister. She was lively and intelligent and interested in everything - except maths and money matters. After God her main interest was in children, young and old. At Seaford she taught the secondary pupils but she was also quite happy to play with the younger ones. The pupils loved to go for walks with her on the green Sussex downs which reminded her of her native Ireland.

She had an international side which was strengthened by her gift for languages. It made no difference to her whether she was speaking English or French, she managed both languages easily and, above all, she had the language of the heart. So she was able not only to instruct but also to educate, form and develop.

She could put herself at everyone's level. When the secondary school at Seaford was closed she came to France where she used her talents for ten years especially at Fenelon, Elbeuf. There, too, she quickly conquered both pupils and teachers and formed deep friendships with her colleagues. It was a "successful integration" as we've seen by the many messages of sympathy since her death. Her many diplomas, both English and French, didn't make her an intellectual cut off from life. She handled a broom or a racket as easily as a pen or books. Back in England she worked in the parish and prison at Lewes before returning to her roots at Seaford where she remained an active member of the parish to the end.

Even on her sick bed, when she could no longer speak, she would sometimes give us joy by her smile.

Sister Brigid will remain in the memory and prayer of those who knew her and are mourning her today. She was so lively that we couldn't imagine that one day she would die.

Now she has joined her sister who was also a religious in our congregation - Sister John Bosco. Today they sing together the glory of God.

We do not need to ask them not to forget their friends and their human and religious family here on earth. On our side, let us continue to pray for them and with them."

Three years ago now we celebrated her 70 years in religious life. It was a double celebration, first at the Mother House at Mesnil, and later here in the parish. At the Parish celebration Sister Bruno, marking 60 years in religious life, and Sister Brigid 70 years, received an Apostolic Blessing from Pope John Paul II. I know that meant a great deal to Sister Brigid who was always fiercely loyal to the Holy Father, and made certain that he was regularly in our prayers. When Pope John Paul died two years ago, many people said: "We shall not see his like again". I think that the same is true of Sister Brigid. She was a very remarkable lady.

The readings we have heard today were the ones chosen for the Funeral last week. "The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God. No torment shall ever touch them." "They who trust in him will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love."

Sister Brigid was a woman of deep faith. I have said before that her faith was not simple or easy. She was a highly intelligent woman who saw the complexity of things, and was always eager to know more. Never without a book, She was anxious to explore the faith in depth. There is no doubt at all that she trusted in the Lord, and it is good to think that at last she will understand the truth. She will come face to face with Him who said: "I am the Way, the truth and the Life."

There is no doubt either that she was faithful in her perseverance in the religious life right to the end. We can trust that, now freed from pain and suffering, She will live with God in love. Her faith taught her that grace and mercy await those he has chosen. Many times during her long life She heard those words of Jesus: "I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place I shall return to take you with me, so that where I am you may be too."

Today we remember a wonderful lady who enriched the lives of so many. We give thanks for all that she did, but I sense now that I hear that very distinctive voice telling me: "Father Tony, Don't forget to ask them to pray for me." Sister Brigid did not approve of the modern tendency to canonise everyone as soon as they pass away. As you well know, she was a realist about human nature. She knew that like all of us, she depended entirely on the mercy of God, and she would ask us today to continue to remember her in our prayers and especially at the altar.

And now, I think, I can see that twinkle in her eyes, and hear her saying: "That's enough. Let's get on with the Mass."

May Sister Brigid rest in peace and Rise in glory. Amen

A letter from the Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence would like to thank Fr Tony for the prayerful Requiem Mass offered for the repose of the soul of Sr Brigid.
"Former pupils, parishioners and friends came in great number to pay their tribute to someone they have appreciated during her lifetime. You have shown us so much sympathy by your presence. We would like to thank you all. We are grateful to Peter who played the organ, to Julie who wanted to sing for Sister Brigid, without forgetting Maria Jones and her joyful team."
"We pray for you all," The Sisters.