Swaby, Sr. Mary

Swaby, Sr. Mary

sr mary_swabyMary was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1947. She received her early education in Louth, Lincolnshire and trained as a pharmacist at the University of Aston, Birmingham and St. George’s Hospital, Lincolnshire. She worked as a pharmacist in England and then spent two years as a lay missionary in Nigeria. There she worked at the MMM hospital in Eleta, Ibadan.

On returning home Mary found that she had developed a deep and lasting relationship with the people whom she had served in Nigeria. A few months later, in 1974, she joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary.

After her initial religious training, her first assignment was to England on promotion work for a year. In April 1978 Mary went to Tanzania. She spent ten years in Dareda as a pharmacist and was also Sister-in-charge. In 1990 she moved to Makiungu, where she served for over twenty years. During this time she worked as a pharmacist, was Sister-in-charge for six years, and then Area leader for nine years. Mary also found the time to actively participate in the work of the parish and diocese, bringing her calmness and serenity to her colleagues and friends there.

She was a person of few words and was known by some as ‘the woman of the quiet way’. At meetings she might contribute little to the discussion but had the great gift of encapsulating in a few words all that the participants had said. She was a great listener, a trait which stood to her in leadership roles over the years. She was invariably courteous and kind and had compassion for the most needy.

Mary was a great community person and was often the heart and soul of the party. She entertained guests and community as she recited poetry, danced, and sang. One of her favourite songs was ‘The Old Maid in the Garrett’. She enjoyed bird watching and knitting.

Mary’s illness took everyone by surprise and seemed to develop quickly. She continued to show her strength and interior calm. She communicated frequently from Tanzania with her stepmother, Louie; her brothers, Andrew and Martin; and their families. Her brothers visited her in Makiungu shortly before her return to Ireland in December 2011. She spent her last months in Beechgrove where she participated in community Mass and prayer whenever possible.

She died on 20 February 2012.