Congregational Register No: 17
First Profession: 08.09.1941
Died: 19.04.2008 Aged: 89 years
Josephine Doyle was born in Piercestown, Co. Wexford. She was one of ten children, with four brothers and five sisters. From her early letters it seems that she became acquainted with Mother Mary in early 1938, soon after Mother Mary had returned from Nigeria and MMM had been founded.
Josephine entered MMM in December 1938, taking the name Sr. M. Philomena and did her novitiate in Collon and in Drogheda under the direction of Mother Edith, SHCJ. After first profession, Sr. Philomena spent four years in Ireland, working in the hospital in Drogheda and then later as guest mistress in Rosemount, Dublin.
In 1945, Sr. Philomena set sail for Nigeria where she was to spend the next eighteen years. ‘Sr. Philo’, as she was affectionately known, was one of the founding members of Hansen’s disease (leprosy) work in Ogoja. Her work comprised general social work for patients, keeping office records, community office work and bookkeeping. The work at this time was of a pioneering nature because it was necessary not only to help the people in a medical sense, but to also clear land and erect the buildings in which they lived and worked. She also started the mission in Abakaliki, again providing tirelessly for the leprosy patients. In 1947 Sr. Philomena had the great honour of being chosen to act the part of Mother Mary, going through the bush and traveling in a boat in the MMM film, Visitation. All in a day’s work for Philo!
Sr. Philomena returned to Ireland in 1963 and worked in the magazine office at Bettystown, Co Meath. During that time she undertook a two year commercial course and was in charge of the office for her last four years there. In 1972 Sr. Philomena was assigned to the Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, where she was the comptroller and bookkeeper. She was greatly impressed with the dedication and maturity of the students there and also with the daily liturgy, which she felt enriched her life and helped her own spiritual growth. While in the USA she also lived for one year in the Winchester community, doing a secretarial course in Boston and a three month pastoral ministry course.
In 1977 Sr. Philomena returned to Ireland once more. Initially she worked in the maternity office and provided summer holiday relief in the IMTH. She then worked in the nunciature in Dublin and obtained a diploma in pastoral ministry. She spent five years in Waterford doing pastoral work in the parish and was the bursar for the community. In 1987 she travelled to England to take care of her sister, who was terminally ill. Following her sister’s death, she returned to Drogheda, where she worked at various jobs in the house before retiring in 2005 and becoming a resident of Áras Mhuire.
Sr. ‘Philo’ was called to her eternal home on 19 April 2008.