Requiem Mass – September 27th 2022
My thanks to the family for asking me to say a few words about Margaret. Actually, I have many many words to share about my years visiting Margaret and to try to precis them is not easy – I think we both kissed the Blarney Stone….It’s no coincidence today being the Feast of St Vincent de Paul being in the SVP and also being an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion for many years I have been fortunate to have crossed the path of a few inspirational souls….(in fact, although not officially canonised by the church, I could say I have been privileged to share the company of Saints).
Margaret was one such soul – I was sent by Father Brendan Gorman many years ago to Margaret’s home in Jubilee Cottages, Cardington to take her Holy Communion….after she could no longer stay at home, I followed her to St Margaret’s Home where she remained until that last short stay in Bedford Hospital.
The Blessed Eucharist – which means thanksgiving – was always, always received with gratitude and thanks by Margaret…even after the opening prayer she would say ‘that was so lovely’ and she remembered all the responses and prayers even though her memory had deteriorated. The things that mattered in life were never forgotten – especially Arthur who, although is not a Catholic, bought her and another lady diligently to Saturday evening Mass every week….indeed, Arthur used to tend the grounds here and Father Brendan told me once that Arthur was a ‘better Christian than many a Catholic!’
Margaret’s children and grandchildren also never forgotten – we talked about them often – Anne in Ireland and her family, Kevin her son (who was with her when I brought Bishop Peter to visit her in Jubilee Cottage) and Linda and her Dalmatian dogs – how often she prayed for us all and how her prayers will be so much more effective now. How she loved you all.
She was one of the most gentle, patient, gracious ladies I have ever met and although she thanked me profusely every time I visited, it was me that walked away thanking her. Helen Keller once said: ‘The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart. Margaret’s heart was so full of beauty that its true – I cannot put into words how to describe it …this physically oh so fragile yet incredibly strong, beautiful soul – who came into my life in her latter years.
I never left Margaret without knowing that I had somehow been in the presence of someone very close to God. I never left Margaret’s room without the sound of her laughter echoing down the corridor – (she was one of the few people who ‘got’ my weird sense of humour) and I never left Margaret’s bedside without her tears of joy and thanks at having received her Lord in this Great Sacrament. She would kiss my hand and I would kiss her forehead; she never once complained about her situation and she was ever mindful and grateful that in our busy lives we would take the time to visit her.
One of our prayers in SVP is: ‘We thank you Lord for the many blessings we receive from those we visit’. Help us to love and respect them, to understand their deeper needs and to share their burdens and joys as true friends.’
I will miss our true friendship Margaret and thank God that I was privileged to be with Father Nicholas for that last anointing to whisper in your ear one more time ‘I love you Margaret’. May you rest in the Peace of Christ.