O’Neill, Sr. Mary

O’Neill, Sr. Mary

Sr Mary ONeillCongregational Register No. 645
D.O.B. 24.02.1941
First Profession 04.10.1965
Died: 25.12.2000 Aged: 59 years

Mary was born in Dublin, an only girl with two brothers, Denis and Shane, who were close to her throughout her life. After secondary school in Holy Faith, Glasnevin, Dublin, she did a clerical course and then worked for a time in an office. Mary entered MMM when she was twenty-one. She knew MMM firsthand from her parents’ involvement in the sale of work.

Her cousin, Sr. Bernadette Gilsenan, was pioneering our mission in Turkana at the time Mary entered in 1962. After her initial formation in Drogheda, she was asked to start a short course in occupational therapy with a view to a mission assignment in Nigeria, where the need was great. However, the Biafra War broke out in Nigeria in 1968 and plans for an assignment there were put on hold. Mary returned to Drogheda and did nursing and midwifery training. Then for four years she worked in the Clinica Mediterranea in Naples, Italy.

In 1981 Mary was assigned to Kenya, to the Turkana desert. She loved Kenya and especially the Turkana people. In 1987, Mary returned to Ireland for some years to care for her aged mother, but was always looking forward to her return to Kenya. While in Ireland during this period, Mary was vocations directress for the Ireland/England Region, and took some courses in counselling. On her return to Kenya in 1992, Mary worked both in Nakwamoro and Kitale and was part of the Kenya formation team. It was from Kitale that Mary came to Ireland in the summer of 2000. On medical advice she stayed in Ireland for treatment, and her sudden illness and death on Christmas Day 2000 was a shock and surprise to all.

Mary is best remembered for her creative talents. She loved painting, drawing, and making cards for all occasions. She loved life and was uncomplaining. She was a good listener and, as ministry often demanded, she was confidential and discreet. Above all, she is remembered as a person with a warm and forgiving heart. Underpinning all her life was a deep sense of God’s presence and of God’s deep love for her.

Mary is buried in Drogheda.