Friday, 18 August 2017

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Death of the Convent Founder Member

A last link with the remarkable chain of events which witnessed the transformation of the Young family residence and estate at Kintullagh into Ballymena’s much esteemed St Louis Convent was severed last week with the passing of Sister Mary Finian, who was the last surviving found member of the Ballymena community.

Sister Finian, who was in her 97th year, became ill some six weeks ago and had been a patient in the St Louis Medical Mission in Monaghan for ten days, where she passed peacefully away.

A native of Silverspring, Co Wexford, she spent her early years as a member of the St Louis community in Monaghan.

Memories

Many of the senior members of Ballymena’s All Saints’ parish have fond memories of Sister Finian and her founding companions, Mother Claude, Sister Mary Conception and Sister Mary Albert, who began their labour of love way back in the wintry days of January 1924.

Sister Mary Finian spent most of her days at various convents throughout Ireland and it must have been a tremendous upheaval from her native setting – and, equally, a tremendous challenge – when in the fiftieth year, she embarked for the mission fields of Nigeria.

It was, indeed, far from the land . . . but Sister Finian, never one to shirk responsibility . . . adjusted happily and quickly to the demands of the West African environment and remained there for twenty years.

On her return to Ireland, Sister Finian was associated with various St Louis convents, being mainly concerned with those in the shadows of her beloved Mountains of Mourne, Newcastle and Kilkeel.


Tribute

The largely attended funeral in Kilkeel on Friday witnessed a remarkable tribute to the respect and affection engendered by Sister Mary Finian’s life of friendship and charity.

Many members of the St Louis community throughout Ireland and from mission stations worldwide were there to mourn her passing, with countless people whose path she had made less difficult down the years present to pay a final tribute.

Father Starkey, parish priest of Kilkeel, was the celebrant at the requiem Mass and also officiated at the graveside, assisted by Father Maurice Henry, CC and Father Shepperd, Parish Priest of Ballymartin.

Also in attendance were members of the Dromontine Fathers, long part of Sister Finian’s pastoral regions during her missionary work in Nigeria.

Many members of the Ballymena parish also travelled to Kilkeel for the funeral, including a number of clergy from various parts of Co Antrim.

Enthusiastic

Sixty six years have now passed since a ‘young and enthusiastic sister Mary Finian’ first came to Ballymena.

That singular enthusiasm was maintained throughout her life – a life dedicated to the well being of the St Louis tradition.

Since those natal days of the mid twenties, Ballymena’s St Louis Convent has become a much loved and highly regarded part of the fabric of the Mid-Antrim community.

It remains, as ever, a tribute to Sister Finian and her founding companions. 

30 August 1990
Obituary from a local newspaper

 
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