Farewell to Sr Jacinta Finnerty


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The OLA sisters are mourning the passing of  Sr. Jacinta Finnerty on On July 6th 2019.  

Requiem Mass was held on Tuesday (9th) at 2.30pm in Ardfoyle Convent Chapel follwed by the burial in the Community Cemetery.

Below are the words spoken by OLA Provincial Leader, Kathleen McGarvey.

"Good afternoon and welcome. We are gathered here today to thank God for the long and fruitful life of Sr Jacinta Finnerty, our Sister, our aunt and our friend, and to bid her farewell. We entrust her to God as she goes to her final resting place to join her parents, her sister Bernadette, her brothers, Fr Paddy (SPS), Eamon, Thomas, Michael John and Willie, and the many other deceased members of her family, friends and OLA Sisters.  

A special word of welcome today to Sr Jacinta’s sister-in-law Rose, her nieces and nephews, and all other family members and friends who are here with us today. Jacinta’s only remaining sibling, her sister Mary, and her sister-in-law Peggy cannot be here with us today but they are surely united with us in thought and prayer. Failte to the OLA Sisters, especially those who have come from other communities in Ireland. Failte to Frs. Bill Greene and Jimmie Kelleher SPS, and to the SMA Fathers who, as always, are here to celebrate with us. We are happy to have here in the congregation today Fr Con Cronin, SPS, and Fathers John and James from the dioceses of Abuja and Minna, Nigeria; Welcome. I know more SMA would have liked to be here but they are presently at their Provincial Assembly in Dromantine so we keep them in our prayer and I’m sure they also remember us in their prayers today. A special word of failte and thanks to Fr Eddie O’Connor, our main celebrant.

Sr Jacinta, baptised Brigid Teresa, was born in (Pollalager), Brideswell, Athlone, Co Roscommon way back in January 1933. She came to Ardfoyle in September 1952, when she was just nineteen years of age, and in March 1955 she made her first profession as an OLA Sister. That day, Jacinta professed to give her life to God in the service of God’s Kingdom, especially in Africa, doing whatever service was asked of her and working wherever she was sent. Over the years since then that is what she did her best to do.

For the first few years after profession, Jacinta spent about three years in London studying Commerce, building on a course she had done as a young girl in Athlone before she entered. She also spent some time helping in one way or another here in Ardfoyle, which at that time would have been full of young women preparing for a life in God’s service in Africa. In 1961 she made her final profession and was sent to Nigeria, where she spent about six years teaching in Marywood Grammar College in Lagos.  In 1967 she came back to Ireland and spent some time teaching in St Mary’s College in Newry. This was followed by a few years in London where she carried our various activities including teaching Commerce and Religious Education in some schools there. In 1974 she was sent to Ghana and for the next twenty-six years she gave all her energies to the formation of young women in secretarial skills in the Archbishop Porter Girls’ Polytechnic, in Vroom, just outside the historic town of Elmina.

The province of Ghana has sent a very long and beautiful testimony of her selfless and dedicated service there. They say that Sr Jacinta, through her dynamism, persistence and vision, upgraded that school from a post-middle school status to a 2-year post-secondary secretarial course, and her graduates were snapped up by private and public businesses all over the country.  They speak of her tenacity, and her desire for perfection. I must say that this desire for perfection, whether in her own physical appearance or the immaculate school premises or the standard to be achieved by her students, is something I have often heard mentioned of with reference to Jacinta. She would not let a hair be out of place or a kerb be dirty, even in dusty Africa. She was a strict disciplinarian and didn’t accept half-measures. As the Province say in their testimony: “naturally, her students did not always appreciate this persistent training, until later on when they began to fully realise what a marvellous transformation she had achieved in them.” This was evident when she was leaving Ghana in 2000 and past students came in their droves to give her a wonderful farewell and pay many tributes for her outstanding accomplishments. Indeed, even on our own facebook post where we announce her passing, a great many past students, employees and Sisters express their sadness at her passing and their appreciation of all she was and did for them. So many others have called here these past few days and have assured us they will have Mass celebrated in union with us in Ghana today.

I’m told that Jacinta was “ever ready to help needy students and give generous help to her employees and their families when she could.”  With the Legion of Mary in Vroom, she regularly visited the nearby leper settlement and prison and the elderly poor.  According to the Ghana Provincial, “Everyone in the area knew Sr. Jacinta so well, as she drove around in a little second-hand mini that often the children would shout ‘Sr Jacinta’ to any white woman that appeared in the area, long after she had gone.”

In 2000, after returning to Ireland, Jacinta was part of the OLA Dublin community and in 2004 she moved here to Ardfoyle. Here, as well as other activities, she accompanied the Faith & Light group when they came to use the Ardfoyle Hall regularly for mass. She had an independent spirit, so it certainly has not been at all easy for her this past few years as health obliged her to move to the infirmary: herself and her good friend Sr Joan Amor used to enjoy fresh air and walking, and when she was more and more confined to a chair and then lost her companion Joan who passed away just over a year ago, Jacinta indeed suffered her purgatory. She is now surely at peace with God, probably having a natter with Joan, who she is to be buried beside today in the graveyard, and with her many relatives and friends gone before her to heaven.

We pray that Jacinta, Sr Jas as she is fondly known in Ghana, may be rewarded for her faith and her commitment to God’s service, and may she know in Heaven God’s Peace in a deep and everlasting way. We pray too that God will grant her family and all who loved her in this life the consolation we need.

I take this opportunity to thank all those who cared for Jacinta: Sr Katherine and the House Council here in Ardfoyle, as well as Joan and all our infirmary staff.  Thank you to her family who loved and supported Jacinta all through the years. Our thanks also to those who have prepared our altar, our choir and all involved in today’s celebration."

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, 
and let perpetual light shine upon her. 
May she rest in peace.