Sister Catherine McLaughlin
1941 - 2019
Born: 5th July 1941
Entered Religious Life: 6th July 1964
Died: 18th January 2019
The following reflection was given at Sr Catherine's funeral by Sr Rita Dawson RSC, Provincial Leader of the English/Scottish Province.
On Behalf of the Congregation I would like to welcome all of you here today especially Catherine’s brother Charles; unfortunately her other brother John and his daughter, Catherine’s niece Louise Anne, were unable to be with us for health reasons. We also welcome nieces Norrina, Catherine, Louise and Anna, her nephews Thomas, Paul and Andrew, together with her cousins and friends. I would also like to welcome Sr Mary Christian, who is Sr Catherine’s co and Congregational Leader. As some of you may not know, to be a co means you entered at the same time. And to all of the Sisters who travelled from Ireland, England and from Airdrie to be here today.
Catherine was born in Glasgow in 1941 to parents Daniel and Alice. She attended St Mary’s Girls Primary School run by the Franciscan Sisters and thereafter St Mary’s Secondary School. After school she worked for Donald’s the Chemist mostly at his shop on the Gallowgate but sometimes in his branches in the Gorbals.
She was always active both at and after school. She played tennis at Glasgow Green. On occasions she would play football with the boys “down the back”- “down the back” meaning the backyard of the tenement buildings. Her main interest was cycling. She joined a cycling club which on weekends or evenings would cycle out to faraway and exotic places like Strathblane and Balmaha. She was also a leader, Tawny Owl, with the Brownie pack in St Mary’s.
On the day she made her First Communion, Catherine told her parents she was going to be a nun – and she never changed her mind about it.
Her contact with the Sisters of Charity began when she was a volunteer helper in St Margaret’s Hospice in Clydebank which at the time was in converted residential building on Mill Road across the road.
After a holiday to Bray, at a Convent which was one of our own Convents, Catherine met Sister John Marie and she brought a group of girls to Milltown to visit. Some of you may not know that Milltown was the Mother House and so this was all very exciting for a young Catherine. From that day Catherine desired to enter much to the delight of her mother.
On 6 July 1964, she entered and right up until the day she died, she thanked God for the grace of staying. Just so you are all aware, this journey of being a nun is not an easy one.
She was based in St Joseph's Hackney until July 1967, and then went to St Patrick's Cork for 7 years. It was here that Catherine went on to do her training and passed her exams. She also did further training with the Brothers of Charity in Clarinbridge which was for people with special needs. She was also in the nursing unit in Kilkenny.
Catherine spent a year in Nigeria before returning to Cork. She remembered helping the girls there to get their pensions which made a great difference to their lifestyle. Catherine’s sabbatical was in USA in 1996 and on her return, she went to Kilkenny as Assistant Director. She also spent 13 years at the Food Centres in Gardiner Street and Stanhope Street. In early 2017, Catherine formally requested to be missioned back to the English/Scottish Province. Being a Sister is a bit like being in the Army, you have to ask to be able to come home.
She enjoyed cooking, gardening, embroidery, and also watching sport on television. Catherine’s sister Margaret died here and she was a patient in the Mary Aikenhead Centre for some time. Her brother Thomas also died here in St Joseph’s ward. So many of our doctors and nurses have known Catherine for many years.
This was Catherine’s second home as she spent all of her summer holidays and Christmas breaks here. She always enjoyed the rest and relaxation, and the support she received from the doctors and nurses when she needed it. Catherine loved coming to Scotland where she could see all of her family and friends.
Thank you to all of you who have come here today to share in this Mass and in thanksgiving for the life of Catherine, and her commitment and dedication over many years as a Sister of Charity.
Thank you to all of our maintenance staff, the chefs, and everyone who has helped today. We truly come into our own when we know others need our love, support and attention.
I would also like to sincerely thank Sr Geraldine and all of the Hackney Community, also Sr Angela and Sr Helena. Sr Helena accompanied Sr Catherine on her final journey away from the hospital and I know this was a difficult journey so Helena, I sincerely thank you for this.
Thank you to Father Joe for saying this Mass today.
We appreciate your presence with us and especially Catherine’s brother Charles, and all the family members who are present here and also those who were unable to attend.
Catherine’s contact with the Sisters of Charity began here at this Hospice and so it is very fitting that today we say goodbye to Catherine from where her journey as a Sister of Charity began. Catherine will be very happy to be home today.
Live in me as I live in you. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
Today Catherine is joined in Heaven with the Lord she faithfully served.
May Catherine now Rest in Peace.