Sr Angela died peacefully in her sleep during the night of the 16th to 17th July 2021 at St Michael’s Care, Westgate-on-Sea, England. Aged 102, Angela had spent 80 years in religious life. The details of her funeral will be announced once known.
Sr Angela was born on 4th July 1919 in county Monaghan, Ireland. She was one of a large family where she enjoyed the simple joys of childhood on the family farm. As a child, she wanted to be a teacher. She practised this profession on her siblings and friends until they got tired of it, and moved off to play elsewhere, while Angela gathered the bigger stones, lined them up, and continued her lessons.
She was attracted to religious life, and it was when Sr Aloysius, a Daughter of Jesus home on a visit from her mission in the West Indies, that Angela was able to say, “Yes, that’s the Congregation for me! “ She set about it with the same enthusiasm that she had for her earlier teaching efforts.
She made her vows in the Mother House in France in 1941, but the war prevented her from returning to England. She remained in France and was happy to give English lessons to the Sisters around her who showed more enthusiasm than her earlier students.
In those years tuberculosis was rife in Brittany, as elsewhere, and in 1942 Angela fell seriously ill to the point when the Superior General went to prepare her for death. Angela tells the story of how she stood at the foot of the bed and told Angela she must prepare to die. Angela listened and replied with some spirit “Thank you, but no way am I going to die!”. She did not and returned to England in 1949.
During that time of illness, Angela had a spiritual experience of the statue of Our Lady in Knock, Ireland, and visited the Shrine regularly for many years afterwards. It was here, and in her fidelity to the everyday life in community, that she nourished her deep faith, her love of Our Lady, and her commitment to God, who was always “Father” to Angela.
Back in England, in 1949 in Maryville, Kent, Angela realised her childhood dream and became a teacher. She believed in a broad, cultural, and practical education, and thought nothing of taking most of the upper school to London for an exhibition, a film or to the theatre. She was a tall, impressive lady in the full regalia of the religious habit of those days and would confidently hold up the traffic while the long straggling line of children wandered across. The financial aspects of the trip eluded Angela but there was always the God Only Knows box or someone in the community who could come to the rescue.
In 1965 she moved to Rickmansworth and quickly became an appreciated teacher and member of staff. In 1972 she successfully took over the Headship for one year in the absence of the Head. She retired officially in 1984, and after a sabbatical year in the United States returned to part-time teaching until 1989.
Angela was a charismatic and inspirational teacher with a real care for her students and wanted them to do well. She initiated a careers class for the students’ last year in school and helped them to identify their potential, and be ready to take their place in a chosen career. The young were always a priority for Sr Angela, and in her early retirement, she turned her skills to youth work in Watford while maintaining her connections with St Joan’s.
In 1991 she moved to Westgate-on-Sea where she was responsible for the community and worked as Chaplain in the hospital. She also took up voluntary work supporting victims of crime and made many lasting friendships. Ill health caught up with Angela in 2011 and she was welcomed into the Ursuline Care Home, where she continued to take a lively interest in local and world events and receive the many friends and past students who came to visit her.
Gradually, as her mobility decreased, there was one event not to be missed: her 100th – birthday which she became quietly excited about – despite her protests! The staff in Lourdes pulled out all the stops for the occasion. The presence of her nephew and wife, and the congratulations of the President of Ireland and the Queen filled her with happiness, and us too with gratitude for Angela’s full and gifted life.
Recently she generously accepted the move to St Michael’s Care Home where she was cared for with love and kindness, and where she repeated her readiness for the Lord’s final call. Now the “Father” has called his faithful daughter and received her into the celebration of his everlasting love with the family and friends that she loved.
Thank you, Angela, for your love of life and for the whole-hearted sharing of your many gifts.