November 08, 2005

Reflection on the Anniversary of Catherine’s Death

The 11th of November 1841 evokes many images, far beyond its date. Connections. Reconciliation. A Cup of Tea. Her Funeral. Our Remembering.

It was the day Catherine McAuley died. Elizabeth Moore tells us that on that Friday night, at 10 minutes before 8 in the evening, Catherine expired, and that she “died the Death of the Just.” She and Mary Vincent Whitty tell us of some of Catherine’s visitors on her last day in this life…..her Doctor, family members, priests and Sisters. And wasn’t it remarkable that Dr. Dean Meyler came to call that day. Dean Meyler, with whom she struggled so years earlier in the “chaplain controversy.” On her deathbed she apologized to him in case she had done anything to “displease” him. He told her not to think of that “now” and that he would do whatever he could for her “spiritual children.” What an amazing reconciliation!..

Vincent Whitty also tells us how Catherine reminded her that when she (Catherine) died, it might be a good idea for the Sisters to gather in the community room for a “good cup of tea”, to take time to comfort each other. How many “cuppas” have been poured in Catherine’s name in the years since her death and how many times has that story been retold!?

The Freeman’s Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser listed a death notice for Catherine McAuley on the 16th of November, the day after her funeral. It mentions 5 priests, a deacon and a sub-deacon who were present at her funeral, and “all the religious of the house, between 30 and 40” who occupied the gallery of the Chapel. The religious formed a procession to the newly-consecrated cemetery in the garden of the Baggot Street house, where Catherine, this “truly excellent woman” was the first to be buried in a place close to her Sisters.

Last year, Sr. Anne Hannon, Vice-Postulator of the Cause for Canonization led a group on pilgrimage to Catherine’s Grave on the 11th of November. Certainly this year, others will make a pilgrimage to Catherine’s Grave as they participate in the Praying in Catherine’s Spaces and Places programme that day. Afterall, it is part of our remembering Catherine….a truly excellent woman….on this most important day in her life.

Messages to Barb Stinard rsm MIC

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