Sr. Catherine O’Brien R.I.P.
On the night of March 30th 2020, Sr. Catherine O’Brien passed away peacefully in the loving care of the Staff and Sisters at Sallyville House, Wexford. During the six months prior to her death, Catherine had been in very poor health and was confined to a wheelchair. But she never lost her zest for life and sang at every opportunity! She remarked on a number of occasions that the only gift left to her was her singing voice.
Catherine was one of seven children born to Terence and Nora O’Brien (nee Maguire) on 27th May 1927, at Toureen Castle, Ballysimon, Co. Limerick. Her brothers, Terence and Fr. John (Society of St. Columban), and her sisters, Mary, Sr. Anne (Daughter of Charity) and Rita (Australia) predeceased her. She is survived by her brother James, sisters-in-law Gertie and Kay and many nieces and nephews.
Catherine attended the local Primary School in Bohermore. She then went to live with her uncle and aunt in Charleville, where she completed her Leaving Cert in St. Mary’s Secondary School. She entered the St. John of God Novitiate in Wexford in October 1946 and was professed in May 1949. Prior to 1970 she was known in the Congregation as Sr. Patrick, having taken the name of her grand-aunt, who had been a St. John of God Sister in Kilkenny.
Catherine trained as a nurse in the County Hospital, Wexford. She then ministered in Enniscorthy, New Ross and Gorey before setting out for Adazi, Nigeria in 1966. The Biafran War brought her term there to an abrupt end and she returned to Cahercalla Hospital, Ennis for a number of years before her missionary spirit caused her to volunteer for the Cameroon Mission in 1974. With the exception of a one year break in the Irish College, Rome, she remained in Cameroon until 1988, when she returned to Ireland taking up a nursing post in Gorey Hospital.
In 1991 Catherine retired from nursing and moved to Rathdowney where she became very involved in the Social Services. For twenty very happy years she cared for the residents of Cuan Bhride, involving herself in their health and accommodation needs, in Meals-on-Wheels and in gardening. Art and music were her sources of relaxation.
Catherine retired to Wexford Convent in 2011, where she continued her interest in gardening. With the community, she moved to Sallyville House in November 2017. In 2019, she celebrated the Platinum Jubilee of her profession and had a most enjoyable day with family and community.
Requiem Mass, with many of Catherine’s favourite hymns, was celebrated for her by Rev. Aodhan Marken in Sallyville Chapel on 2nd April. “Limerick, You’re a Lady” was sung as her coffin was taken from the Chapel to the hearse. Due to Covid 19, neither Catherine’s family nor the extended John of God Community were able to be present at her funeral. The Sallyville House and Convent Communities accompanied the hearse to the entrance gate. Then the hearse left unaccompanied for a very quiet burial in Foulkstown Cemetery, Kilkenny. There, she was laid to rest in the presence of two Sisters of St. John of God and Very Rev. Roderick Whearty P.P. St. Patrick’s who officiated at the graveside.