Maureen Quinn (Sr Mary Cecilia), 1920 – 2021)




Sr Maureen died peacefully in her sleep during the night of 16th to 17th June 2021 à St Michael’s Care, Westgate-on-Sea, Angleterre. 100 years old, Maureen had spent 77 years in religious life. The details of her funeral will be announced as soon as they are known.



Sr Maureen Quinn was born on the 11th April 1920.

After her schooling and training in the North of England, Maureen arrived at Abbeywood for the very first Clothing ceremony celebrated in England for the Daughters of Jesus. It was 2nd. February 1942, a bright but snowy day. Maureen had travelled from Liverpool to be with the Community for the occasion. She had met and come to know the Daughters of Jesus during her teacher training at College and was inspired to approach the Community with a view to making her Novitiate.


Impressed by both the student nuns and the beautiful ceremony of the first three Sisters taking the habit at the start of their Canonical Year, she elected to enter that same day and begin her formation for the Religious life. Usually, the Sisters made their Novitiate in France, but the Second World War made that impossible, so permission was given for the young aspirants to make their preparation for Religious Life at St. Joseph’s Convent in England. Other young women came to join the group so that by August 1943 there were eight young Novices prepared and ready, longing to make their First Vows…. among them Maureen Quinn who by then was known as Sr. Mary Cecilia.


Having already qualified as a teacher and gained her LRAM (Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music), Sister was well equipped to begin her role in a school. She started working with the pupils at St. Joan’s in Rickmansworth, where her accomplishments were greatly appreciated.


With the amazing announcement of peace on Victory in Europe Day in May and Victory over Japan Day in August 1945, the eventual return of many Sisters to their own countries became possible, France, Canada, and England resulting in many changes in the DJ communities. In 1946 Sr Maureen was asked to return to Abbeywood to teach music and singing as well as preparing pupils for examinations in pianoforte. She also had responsibilities teaching in the Preparatory School.


During those years, she developed a choir in the Grammar School that was renowned throughout the area for its success in Competitions. She produced concerts that gave the girls great experience and confidence performing before varied audiences. The highlight of her musical successes was the production of the Mikado in 1958, an exceptional work. She used her skills in plainchant, delighting in the preparation of the great feast days of the Church’s year, both in community and school. Her direction of the Sisters’ choir was inspirational.


Sr. Maureen may have been considered a strict disciplinarian, but she was a great encouragement to her pupils who showed her great respect and loved her. However, such dedication and the quest for perfection in all that she did, took its toll and her health suffered. She needed a complete change.


After a few years at Princes Risborough where she helped in the formation of novices, now in England, she returned to Abbeywood to teach in the Preparatory school. She was not slow in introducing new customs. For example, she invited the parents of first communicants, both boys and girls, to accept that their children be dressed identically in white albs complete with hoods for their special day. It proved to be such a success that it remained the custom. It surely reflected her teaching and attitude towards the children’s relationship with the Lord and with each other, as well as her respect for the Liturgy. When the school was forced to close, she accepted a position in St. Paul’s Secondary School in Plumstead.


In 1971 she embarked on a different mission by accepting to work in a Parish in the North of England. It was a short-lived venture, but one she aspired to. Back in the South of England, she returned to St. Paul’s part-time but also worked at St. Stephens Boys’ school in Welling, Kent where she gained a wide experience of the needs of the day.


In 1979 her wish to return to the North was realised as she embarked on pastoral work in Birtley. There she used her skill in playing the organ for Parish Services. Sr. Maureen had a great devotion to Our Lady, to St. Joseph, and to the Northern Saints. She found time to welcome visitors and was most generous in taking them to Holy Island, to Durham Cathedral, and other sites linked to the early history of the Church in England.


Although in the early years, Sr. Maureen was seen to struggle with health issues, she seemed very sprightly in her old age. She could walk without aids and sprint smartly up and downstairs! One would never have thought it possible for her to reach her 100th Birthday, but this was celebrated with joy at the Lourdes Community last August. It was a day of reflection and thanksgiving.


Sr. Maureen will be remembered not only by former pupils with much appreciation but also by her Sisters in community as one completely devoted to the Lord and most generous in her constant attention to detail in everything she did.



May the LORD welcome her home

and give her the peace she longed for.


1 Comment

  1. I remember this lovely lady, I went to St Joseph’s Convent School in Abbey Wood where we had to address the nuns as Mother.
    I remember the performance of The Mikado as if it was yesterday, although I was not in the cast.
    At one of the school assemblies Mother Mary Cecelia’s piano recital of Claire de Lune made my spine tingle.
    I was at the school from 1955 until 1963, having to repeat a year due to poor exam results made my time at St Joseph’s longer than most.


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