Funeral Homily for Sr. Patricia Whyte, Tuam Cathedral, Thursday, 18th of October, 2014
On Saturday evening as the community, family and friends of Sr. Patricia were gathering to be with her in her final illness – the universal Church were gathering in liturgies all over the world to celebrate the feast of The Exaltation of the Cross. The suffering and journey of the Cross of Jesus Christ are at the core of our worship and lives as Christians. The Cross and the Triumph or lifting up, in glory of the Cross are two sides of the coin of our faith. Our belief in the Paschal Mystery is in the salvation of Jesus Christ through his death and Resurrection.
Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows
On Monday, the day that Sr. Patricia returned to God people all over world were marking the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Our Lady, so central to the life and mission of a Presentation Sister is so much at the heart of the suffering and death of her son, Jesus Christ, Our Saviour. Today, we gather in sadness like Our Lady of Sorrows to mourn the loss of someone who was very much loved by so many. Heart-felt condolences to her family, her community and her many, many friends. We pray earnestly for the salvation of her soul and the consolation of so many who loved her dearly!
Sr. Patricia Whyte – Personal Details
Sr. Patricia Whyte was born on March 16th, 1927 to William and Delia Whyte of Cloondahamper, Lavally. Being born on the eve of St. Patrick’s day – she could hardly be called anything other than Patricia and every St. Patrick’s day she so proudly wore the shamrock and was always beautifully decked out in green.
Sr. Patricia was baptised in Killererin Church and of course always maintained strong family links with Ballymanna, Clontuskert, Ballinasloe after he family moved there. After secondary education in Presentation Convent, Tuam she entered the convent here on the 2nd of February, 1952. Her first profession was on the 27th of August, 1954 and final profession on the 27th of August, 1957. This year was her diamond jubilee year and she was so happy to be able to mark by being able to make her final pilgrimage to Lourdes just last month. She was to have a family and community celebration on October, 12th next month, but as we now know, God had other plans for her.
First Reading – Banquet in Isaiah
The first reading at Mass today could hardly be more suitable for a person that provided many a banquet herself for many people. For people of the biblical world and for us in the West of Ireland extending table fellowship is a real expression of welcome, love, care and peace. We hope and pray that Sr. Patricia is now enjoying the eternal banquet of the Lord in heaven.
Living Life to the Full
Sr. Patricia lived a long and healthy and happy life. She was very much at home in her vocations as a Presentation Sister. She loved life and lived it with a sense of energy and fun and adventure. She was somewhat of a free spirit and time meant nothing to her. Clocks or schedules did not tie her down. Having her own little car gave her a great independence and freedom and she certainly made use of that. Even though there was a one-way traffice system on the Cathedral terrace – everyone knew when they saw the little blue car take off that one-way systems did not apply to Sr. Patricia and they stood well back!
Psalm of Thanksgiving
Being an accomplished and sweet singer Sr. Patricia – on many an occasion would have praised God in full voice from this very ambo. The thanksgiving response to the psalm today, just sung is a most fitting refrain for a person that lived life to the full – How can I repay the Lord for His goodness to me.
Gospel – Martha and Mary
In the dining room at Archishop’s House, a place where Sr. Patricia provided for so many groups and individuals since 1995 there is a large black and white painting of the Gospel Scene of today’s Mass, the interaction between Jesus and Mary and Martha.
Some commentators might suggest that the ministries of Mary and Martha were mutually exclusive. Sr. Patricia had a unique ability to be able to combine both. She had the gift of hospitality, the great ability to be able make conversation and lasting friendships with young and old and make everyone feel welcome. Her culinary and baking skills were second to none and she liked nothing more than a celebratory occasion to use her gifts and talents. In the midst of all that she never lost sight of what we might call “the Mary aspect” of the Gospel of today, the important contemplative side of life. Sr. Patricia was a woman faithful to her prayer and loved the traditions, mission, ministry and way of life of the Presentation Congregation, as a follower of Nano Nagle.
After being educated in UCG, Sr. Patricia ministered in Tuam, Athenry, Headford, Tiernea, Carraroe, Baileboro, Shalom in Kilcock, along with even a brief spell in Zambia one Summer. She is most fondly remembered as a teacher, mentor and friend to so many people in all those locations. The huge numbers that visited St. Joseph’s yesterday and the Cathedral yesterday for evening prayer testify to that. When she was leaving Carraroe someone remarked: Ba máthair í do ’chuile dhuine. She had indeed that great motherly ability to make everyone feel special and unique.
Yet another remarked that she transformed Archbishop’s House into not just a set of offices but a home due her cheerful and homely and welcoming presence. Certainly, nobody every left hungry, or if they did – it was despite the best efforts of Sr. Patricia.
There was a prayer that she often said when she was going on a journey and indeed many presentation sisters recite it often. It runs:
Dia idir mé agus uisce mo bháite,
Dia idir mé agus tine mo dhóite
Dia idir mé agus bás gan cáirde
Dia idir mé agus timpist bóthar.
In ainm an Athar le bua
In ainm an Mhic a d’fhulaing an phiain
In ainm and Spiorad le neart
Muire ’s a mac linn inár dtriall.
May Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows and her Son, Triumphant on the Cross be with Sr. Patricia as she embarks on her final earthly journey as she returns to God.
Ar dheis Dé ro raibh a h-anam uasal dílis.