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|Howard, Sr. Mary|
Congregational Register No.
First Profession 18.01.1975
Died: 10.11.2009 Aged: 70 years
Kathleen Mary Howard was born in Derby, England in 1939. She had one brother and one sister. Mary went to Primary School in Derby and when the family moved to Southport continued her education at Notre Dame Grammar School where she passed her GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels. She took a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry and Zoology at the University of Hull in 1960.
Mary went on to work in Birch Hill Hospital, Rochdale, and Southport General Infirmary as a Biochemist; this post graduate experience led to registration as an Associate Member of the Institute of Medical Laboratory Sciences (A.I.M.L.S.).
Mary entered MMM in September 1972 and following initial formation worked in the Laboratory in the IMTH for two years. In 1977, Mary was assigned to Nigeria and went there following a summer spent in the U.S.A. on Mission Appeals. Apart from a few months of Promotion Work in the U.K. and a year spent in Drogheda, Mary was to stay on mission in Nigeria until 2004. Mary worked primarily in Eleta and Afikpo with shorter periods in Ogoja and Itam. She worked mainly as a Laboratory Technologist, but also fulfilled other roles such as local bursar, Sister-in-Charge, and Area Leader.
Mary was assigned to Ealing Community in the U.K. in 2004 where she was bursar, did pastoral work in the Parish and was a keen member of the SVP. In 2006, Mary was elected as Area Leader for U.K./Prague. In 2007 she was diagnosed with cancer and from then on, in spite of courses of Chemotherapy, she was never really free from its shadow. However, Mary continued on as Area Leader and remained as active as possible; few realised how poorly she really was.
Mary had been a Handmaid in Lourdes for many years before she entered MMM and had always held on to a dream that she would one day return to say ‘thank you’ for her vocation to MMM. Miraculously, Mary and Sr. Helen McKenna, as her companion, where able to join the Westminster Pilgrimage to Lourdes at the last minute and Mary and Helen spent a blessed time there from 26th July - 5th August 2009. There was no miraculous cure, but as Sr. Ruth Percival (Mary’s 2nd Cousin) put it: “Mary returned to England with a peace that seemed to radiate from her and which we all felt privileged to witness.” She also spent a few happy days in the Cotswolds with her beloved brother and sister but had to return home early knowing that she needed further treatment. Mary wanted her last days to be at Áras Mhuire, at the heart of MMM, and flew to Ireland at the end of August 2009, accompanied by Sr. Anne Curtin and Sr. Helen McKenna. Mary knew she would be supported by Sisters and Staff at Áras Mhuire and by the palliative care team who did everything possible to make her comfortable. Her brother, Leo, and sister, Anne, visited her and spoke to her daily by phone.
Mary’s condition continued to deteriorate and many were surprised at how long the final part of her journey lasted. Sr. Ruth Percival spent the last three weeks of Mary’s life with her. In 1980 the two cousins had made their final vows together in the church in Derby where both sets of parents had been married, and they now spent this blessed time together during the last days of Mary’s life. Sr. Maureen Clarke came over from England on November 6th and both Maureen and Ruth were at Mary’s bedside when she went peacefully to God in the early morning hours of November 10th.