Catherine Mary Halpin was born on 4th June1938 to Edward and Margaret Halpin, who lived in Dublin. There were seven children in the family; sadly, one of the young boys died.
Sr. Mary described the family as very happy and full of fun and the only concern of their parents was the welfare and happiness of their children. Both of Mary’s parents were very religious, but especially her father. Mary described him as a very holy man. Because of his work, he could not attend daily Mass, so he went to two Masses on Sunday.
Catherine’s first contact with the Sisters of St. Joseph was through a Sister of Mercy who introduced her to Sister Mary Rita. Already Catherine felt drawn to Religious Life and this encounter helped her to reflect on her future. She went to Killorglin and entered our noviciate in 1955. After making her vows, she went to St. Anthony’s hospital Cheam to study for her R.G.N. which she gained very successfully.
Sister Mary was then missioned to St. Joseph’s Nursing Home, as it was then called. At this time the new Hospital was in the process of being built. It included a unit of twelve maternity beds, operating Theatres and an X Ray Unit. This was an interesting time for a young Nurse and Mary loved it.
Sister Mary became very involved in the setting up of the new Hospital and was soon given responsibility for a ward. As a nurse, she was totally committed. Her love for the sick and vulnerable was outstanding but she always had a special place for the elderly.
Sr. Mary spent 23 years at St. Joseph’s Hospital and was then transferred to our Nursing Home in Killorglin as Matron. She remained there for 28 years until retirement and ill health.
Leaving St. Joseph’s Home was a very big change for Mary. The care of the elderly was changing in Ireland. New legislation was put in place. Mary had to register with The Irish Board of Nursing and had to get a management qualification to be appointed as Matron. This she did and the Home was registered as a Nursing Home and paved the way for what it is now a beautiful up to date Home. It is a great legacy to the town of Killorglin from The Sisters of St. Joseph.
Sr. Mary was a very committed Nurse, efficient, kind and thoughtful. Wherever she worked, if staff showed potential, Mary used to give them opportunities and encouragement to further their knowledge and skills. She was exacting, but always showed respect and appreciation for all her staff. Whatever position Mary held during her nursing career; the care of the patient was central.
Sr. Mary, as a Sister of St. Joseph, was committed to her Religious Life. Her prayer life was the centre of her day. Her name Sr. Mary of the Sacred Heart was given to her on her Clothing Day and devotion to the Sacred Heart remained very strong.
When Mary finished in Killorglin, she continued to care for the infirm Sisters in St. Joseph’s Wing at Llantarnam Abbey, attending to both their pastoral and personal needs. At this time, she was having treatment for cancer but she carried on until it was her time to be cared for. She struggled on with ill health for several years, patiently accepting daily life.
Her death came quite quickly on the Feast of the Visitation. The Funeral took place at Llantarnam Abbey on 9th June. A nephew and three nieces along with present and past staff joined the Sisters for the Requiem Mass.
Sr. Mary in her latter days said, “I have found God in all instances of my life. From childhood, my parents always spoke about and accepted the daily happenings in their lives, as God’s will. Throughout my Religious Life I have felt God’s hand guiding and directing me, even when it was hard to accept.”
We finish by quoting one of our Founder’s Maxims
When difficulties follow, interpret them according
To the flow of providence
In which you have faith
May Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart rest in peace.