Sr Mary Martin (Eileen) Healy was called home to God on Friday 13th November 2020. Sr Mary, formerly of Rathmore, Co. Kerry & Kildinan, Co. Cork is predeceased by her sister Mary Shelton and her brothers Gerry, Michael and Pat. She is deeply regretted by her sister Breda Ryan and brother Donal, sister-in-law Mary, nieces and nephews and the Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles (OLA).

A private Requiem Mass was held on Sunday 15th November 2020, in accordance with government guidelines during this time of Covid-19, in the chapel at Ardfoyle and live streamed via our YouTube channel.

The words of Sr Kathleen McGarvey, our Provicial Leader follow: 

Farewell to Sr. Mary Martin Healy, 15th November 2020

Good afternoon and welcome. We are gathered today to bid farewell to a very special little lady, a woman of great simplicity, joy and charm, Sr Mary Martin Healy, who is known and very fondly remembered by many people, especially in Ireland and in Nigeria. Today, due to the COVID pandemic and the restrictions in place, sadly so few of us can be here in this chapel in person to bid her farewell at this funeral mass.

Our sincere condolences to Sr Mary Martin’s family who are here – her brother Donal, her sister Breda, her nieces, and nephews.  Failte to you all; we are very happy that you can be here today. To the many other relatives and friends who cannot be here, we hope you are joined with us online and we send all of you our sincere condolences. Mary Martin was always very close to and proud of you, her family.

We are gathered in prayer with all the OLA Sisters of Ardfoyle, including those joining us today from the Infirmary or the Community Room or other parts of this Community where Mary Martin was a member for the past number of years. Also joined with us are OLA Sisters from our other communities both in Ireland and abroad, our SMA Fathers, and so many others who would all be here under normal circumstances. We are indeed very sorry to see Sr Mary Martin depart from us, but we thank God for the gift that she was, for her long and full life of almost eighty-six years, lived in the service of God and others, and with faith we entrust her back to God.

In these last few years of her life, spent in the Ardfoyle Infirmary, Mary Martin  never forgot her roots and was always proud of her link to the two SMAs from Rathcormac: Gus and Fachtna O’Driscoll, so she would be delighted that Gus is here to celebrate her funeral  mass. Failte Gus and thank you.

Mary Martin, at that time Eileen Healy, was just fifteen when she left her home in Kildinan on the 7th September 1950 to join the OLA Sisters and as she said herself, she wanted to ‘consecrate her life to God’. That was a seriously young age to take such a big decision, something that would not be acceptable today. However, she felt sure of what she was called by God to do, and for the past over seventy years she has stayed firmly on her chosen path.  Sr Loreta McCarthy, who joined Ardfoyle that same day, tells me that Mary Martin, while like a child in some ways, was very mature in other ways, always had a mind of her own, and although young, and small, she was surely able to tell you what to do!

Having entered so young, after her first profession in 1953, she remained in Ardfoyle for four years to do her secondary school, and then went to London to do a Diploma in Montesorri Education. As soon as she completed her studies in 1962, she went on mission to Lagos, Nigeria. There she was to spend the next thirty-one years of her life, serving as a nursery or primary school teacher and school administrator, in St Mary’s Broad Street for eleven years and then in OLA Primary School Yaba for the next eighteen years. In Nigeria, I am told, she was known by everyone, and if anyone needed something, especially related to visas or travel, the one to go to was Sr Mary Martin. She helped so many others and so people were happy to help her. Hence, it’s not surprising that for her last two years in Nigeria she was asked to do fund-raising, based in Maryland, and I have no doubt that with her many contacts and friends, her joyful and friendly manner, and her commitment to hard work, she was as mighty a fundraiser as she was a teacher.

In 1993, she left Africa to return home, and here for the next twenty-one years, until 2014, she travelled the highways and bye-ways of Ireland, together with Sr de Pazzi, Katherine Devane, Thomasina Hughes, Mary Cahill or other OLAs, continuing the ministry of fundraising for mission in Africa through the mite-boxes.

Whether in Nigeria or Ireland, I’m told Sr Mary Martin’s greatest gift was that she liked people, had a way with people; she never forgot a name, knew the family and concerns of every student, every staff, every parent, and every mite-box holder, and showed them all genuine interest, love and concern, always ready to help if it was possible for her to do so.

Here in Community, herself and Sr Thomasina were the best MCs at every party, whether jubilee or other celebration, and her beautiful singing voice was always such an asset in the Choir. Even in the infirmary, Mary Martin was a joy to meet or to visit, and as someone said to me, throughout her many years as an OLA she was full of life and ‘devilment’, had a smart answer for everything, and she would put you in good humour.

These past few months her health deteriorated quite a lot, but she took it gracefully. Her last days as she was slipping away, she showed no struggle or pain, and she radiated calm and peace to those who sat by her bedside. She gently slipped away on Friday afternoon and almost immediately her face just looked so youthful and beautiful. I really have no doubt she is at peace with both the life she lived and the fullness of life which she has now begun.

Here before the altar we have a few symbols of Mary Martin’s life: the Bible symbolising her consecration to God, the rosary which was never far from her hands, the mite box to which she dedicated so many years of ministry, some African carvings symbolising the land and people she loved so deeply and with such commitment. 

Before I finish, I take this opportunity to thank Nurse Joan and all the staff in the Infirmary as well as Sr. Katherine and the House Council here in Ardfoyle who show such respectful care and compassion daily to our elderly and infirm sisters. I also thank Sr Mary Martin’s family for having been so good to her, your Auntie Mary or Auntie Eileen, throughout her life and especially during these last years. May she now, reunited in heaven with her parents, and all who have gone before her, send many blessings from above.

I now hand you over to Fr Gus to lead us in our Eucharist. 

Go raibh mile maith agaibh go leir.

Kathleen McGarvey OLA
Provincial Leader