In peace, we give her back to the Lord and thank Him for the gift Sr Winifred has been to us
Sr Winifred died on the 28th of April 2023 at the Care home, “The Maples”, Peterborough, England, at the age of 96, 72 years of which were lived as a religious sister.
Her funeral will take place at the church, Our Lady Help of Christians, Rickmansworth, on Thursday the 25th of May at 13h, followed by interment at the local cemetery.
The White Rose county of Yorkshire was the birthplace of Winifred Crowther on the 14th of April 1927, the third child to be born to proud parents, Frank and Elizabeth Crowther. In a close-knit family, Winifred grew up in a secure and happy atmosphere where the Faith was instilled with the warmth and conviction of the Catholic North tradition. She was a bright girl and progressed successfully through school and on to the University of Durham in 1944, where she qualified as a Bachelor of Science in 1948 – an interest that extended into all areas of science, and many others.
In the course of her studies Winifred had been impressed by a meeting with a Daughter of Jesus, and with a little background in French, she asked to join the formation house of the Daughters of Jesus in Brittany. She took her vows in 1950 and returned to England to teach – initially in Rickmansworth for the best part of 10 years, before moving on to Abbey Wood, and then returning to Rickmansworth as Headmistress in 1965.
She then embarked on a course of studies in Rome, but poor health prompted a return home after one year, and Sr Winifred took up her teaching career again until 1973. She was meticulous in her preparation for lessons and enjoyed her contact with students and staff. She was appreciated by all for her easy personality and great wit. Winifred was a very tall lady and had no difficulties with discipline; one look from her great height discouraged any pupil from even thinking of mischief! In her youth, she was embarrassed by her height and used to tell a story against herself as she recounted an occasion when she was asked to accompany a visiting school inspector. In the course of the early conversation about the school he asked “Well, how big are you ..” and she replied, “I’m just over 6 ft”. Fortunately, they both laughed and the visit continued with the number of students in the school settled!!
In 1973 Sr Winifred was asked to serve as University Chaplain in Canterbury – She adapted well to the change and enjoyed the wider intellectual scope, but the mission was challenging for her with its many different demands on time and energy, and so for health reasons she returned to her teaching in 1975 – this time in High Wycombe, where she was also asked to be in charge of the community.
In community Sr Winifred was an easy companion – she loved a stimulating discussion on any aspects of life, scientific discoveries, the Church, etc. She was teased about the “hobby horses” she rode on different occasions! Her insights, witty remarks, and stories easily filled the time … Wherever she was in community, she shared generously in the daily tasks and took part in the local area and church – contributing her creative skills, as well as leading discussion groups, trustee responsibilities, and taking part in various projects.
In all these years in the South, Sr Winifred‘s heart was still firmly attached to her family and homeland in the North, where she loved to return and visit, and often shared holiday time with her sister, family, and with Paul, a very dear nephew.
In 1985 Sr Winifred’s teaching career came to an end when she was asked to be responsible for the Daughters of Jesus Nursing Home in Princes Risborough. This new challenge responded well to her gifts of understanding and compassion as well as to her interest in science and medicine.
But after many years of teaching, as well as this new role of care and administration, Sr Winifred gladly accepted a sabbatical period which she spent in Spokane, USA. Returning in 1990, she served very happily in pastoral ministry in Peterborough and enjoyed being chaplain in the John Fisher school where she was much appreciated. …Ten years later she moved to the Thetford community which was also dedicated to parish ministry. When the community closed in 2007, she moved back to Rickmansworth where the school was delighted to welcome her onto the Board of Trustees. This, as well as community responsibilities, and continued interest in local projects, fulfilled Sr Winifred’s desire to be of service.
Sadly, a major heart attack in 2015 put paid to such a busy life, and gradually she found a new outlet for her creativity by joining The Maples, an Assisted Living Residence in Peterborough. Here she adapted easily to a different pace of life, joining in activities and becoming a much sought-after companion. As age and poor health increased she relaxed into a peaceful routine, keeping open to world events, and people, through reading, the T.V., and enjoying the company of others. She was particularly grateful for the care of good staff who enabled her to remain in The Maples in the last months of her life. At this time she often said “I am at peace” – a gift she shared with those around her and for which we give thanks. In that peace, we give her back to the Lord and thank Him for the gift Sr Winifred has been to us and to the many people whose lives she touched. She rests in peace.