Kathleen Mary Henneker, better known to many by her religious name of Sr Imelda, was born on 31st July 1919, in a family of four children. Sent as a boarder to Abbey Wood where she met the Daughters of Jesus, she made her religious profession in the Congregation on 4th August 1949 and spent many years teaching in parish and Congregation schools. She was greatly appreciated for her gentleness, for her capabilities, and for her availability for all who came to her. A woman of interiority and prayer, she helped many priests as well as ‘gentlemen of the road’.
She moved back to her home town of Ashford, in Kent, to nurse her mother in the last years of her life and when she died continued to care for her brother who was seriously handicapped by deafness and finally by dementia. During these years her presence first in the parish school and then in the parish generally with prayer groups and Bible study groups have left a lasting memory. Always ready to help those in distress, she discovered that there was no provision in the town for homeless men (whereas there was for women) and with the help of friends and the social services, she set up an association to provide for them.
In spite of advancing years and the increasing demands made by her ageing brother, Kathleen struggled bravely to cope, unable to see how she could return to community life as she wished while he lived. A providential but serious fall took her to hospital and then to Lourdes care home in Westgate, while friends took over responsibility for her brother who also went to a local care home until he died.
Kathleen’s final years were spent in Lourdes care home in Westgate, run by the Ursuline sisters and close to the Daughters of Jesus community of Westgate who are regular visitors. She waited for the Lord for several years, a long struggle with declining forces and failing faculties.
She marked all who met her, in health and in sickness. May she rest in peace.