We would like to take a moment to share with you three beautiful contributions from close friends, neighbours and colleagues of the late Sr Helen (Lillie) Kennedy. They were touched, moved and inspired by Sr Helen and her ministry as a Mercy Sister in our town of Templemore. They give a wonderful insight into the lady that did so much for us all these years. May she rest in everlasting peace.
Sr. Helen Kennedy. A personal tribute by Brid Dunne. There were three phases of my knowing of Sr Helen. This is reflected in the three names I had for her. She hailed from the same parish in Limerick as my mother, thus when she came to Templemore there was an immediate connection. As a child not understanding religious life or not being able to pronounce my S’s very well, she was “Mister Helen”. She was present as a family friend in my childhood, one who always called with cakes which usually meant I could stay up late as the adults conversed in the sitting room. For my Holy Communion she made much of me and gave me a present of a holy water font, which hangs now in my own home almost thirty years later. As time progressed and a child became a youth, she became “Sr Helen”: My sibling’s principal, and much later, my school chaplain. One doesn’t understand accompaniment as a ministry until one reflects on it. Now as I think back I remember her constant presence, her understanding and her capacity to balance sad and joyous events with aplomb, hitting just the right note and encouraging us to strive on. It was her practice to meet all first and leaving certificate years one-to-one, and I remember distinctly both occasions, especially the latter. Her words, both motivational and moving, have stayed with me since. Most recently, she became known as just “Helen”, our family friend, my friend, who was always interested, who advised, supported, offered counsel and encouraged us through life’s tribulations, illness and grief. Each wedding and each wake Helen was there with a gentle nudge, a wry joke, and style. My last encounter was all too brief, out in the park for a walk; “Be sure to call in when you are passing!” she said. I never did get the chance. The prayer attributed to Oscar Romero offers a fitting perspective on a life so fully lived by Sr. Helen, and a challenge to us all. It ends: We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future that is not our own. The bed of heaven to you Helen, your living supported others to grow, and those seeds will nourish others beyond your reach on this earth. I will keep the flag flying – Luimneach Abú!
Read at Sr Helen’s funeral by Mary D’estelle Roe.
Had Sr. Helen a Ministry OR Had Sr. Helen a Job? That is the question! If you are doing it just because no one else will, it’s a job If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it’s a ministry If you quit because someone criticises you, it’s a job If you keep on serving, it’s a ministry If you’ll do it as long as it does not interfere with your other activities, it’s a job If you are committed to staying even if it means letting go of other things, it’s a ministry If you quit because no one thanks you or praises you, it’s a job If you stick with it even though no one recognises your efforts, it’s a ministry It’s hard to get excited about a job It’s almost impossible not to get excited about a ministry If your concern is success, it’s a job If your concern is faithfulness and service, it’s a ministry. Thank you Sr. Helen , You had a ministry. You have always been a good and faithful servant. May you now reap your reward in Heaven. Amen
Sr. Helen Kennedy – A Life well Spent by Bridget Jones Sr. Helen was a pillar in the faith community of Templemore, Clonmore, Killea. Over the years she served as Minister of the Word and was a valued member of the Liturgy Group, having an in-depth knowledge of good liturgical practices and an extensive collection of resources. She prepared material and contributed to novenas, themed Masses and prayer services for all liturgical seasons. She trained Prayer Guides, organised and led prayer groups in the parish. Sr. Helen particularly enjoyed praying with members of A.A. every week. Her love and understanding of young people stood her in good stead when she was appointed Chaplain in Our Lady’s Secondary School following her retirement as principal. Her support for the students and their families especially in difficult and tragic circumstances was much appreciated. She established “Cuan”, a bereavement support for second level students. Sister Helen introduced students to meditation, and she facilitated the preparation of the school community for the Sacrament of Reconciliation in Advent and Lent. Her organisation of Mass for the staff of Our Lady’s at the beginning of each school year ensured that the themes chosen were spiritually uplifting and prompted the teachers to uphold gospel values in their classrooms. Her annual award to a fifth year student who made a significant contribution to school life, in keeping with the Mercy ethos, was much sought after. She facilitated retreats for Confirmation candidates in all the parish schools. Her involvement with the parish Bereavement Support Group was very much appreciated. Sister Helen was very pro-active in establishing the McAuley Parish Centre in what was once St. Anne’s Primary School. She took a keen interest in the running of the centre and her advice and guidance to her fellow committee members was always well received. In January 1992 Sr. Helen with three companions took up residency in 1 Church Street and over the years she was a wonderful neighbour to all in that part of town. Her many friends who live on the margins of life often called to her house and were always treated with kindness, dignity and respect. Sister Helen served on the Board of Management of St. Colmcille’s N.S. in 2007 and St. Joseph’s Primary School since 2007. Her experience as a school principal and her devotion to education ensured valuable contributions to the successful running of the school. She also served on the Board of Cistercian College, Roscrea. As a member of the Diocesan Committee responsible for activities undertaken for The Year of the Family 2018, Sr. Helen gave valuable assistance and in particular to the production of “Together We Pray”, a Book of Prayers for Families. Over the years she was all too happy to serve as a Prayer Guide in Knock. In all the undertakings of her ministry she first called on the Lord to guide and be with her in the use of her talents for the good of others. Her preparation and attention to detail were exemplary. She was a wonderful team member and leader, encouraging and affirming people in their various roles, a great listener, with a cheerful and positive disposition to all. May the Lord welcome her with the words, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter now into the joy of your Lord.”