Tuesday, June 25, 2024


NEWCASTLE will soon bid farewell to one of its most cherished residents. Sister Teresa Clancy, an inspirational member of the community, building respect and forging ties with those of all ages, is preparing to retire and return to the Sisters of St Louis in Monaghan. ‘Sister T’, as she has been affectionately known over the years, has been the focus of a number of celebrations in recent days, as the community pays tribute to her unselfish devotion to the area for an amazing 64 years.

Farewell events kicked off last week, when Fr Jim Crudden offered a special Mass for her at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, during which a moving tribute, the first of many, was paid by Finbarr Keaveney. In his heartfelt speech, Finbarr recounted how Sr Teresa – who is now in her 90th year – was born in County Cavan, educated in Monaghan and from there she joined the Sisters of St Louis. In 1959, when St Malachy’s High School opened, she became a teacher there, during which time she was known as Sister Gonzaga. She lived for a short time with the St Louis community in Newcastle and then in Kilkeel. Finbarr explained that ‘Sr T’ worked at the local school for almost 40 years, eventually becoming vice-principal.

Subsequently, she moved to Newcastle and set up home in a small house on the edge of the Burrendale estate, which she lovingly called ‘Louisville’. Finbarr noted that her door “was always open to young and old to offer advice and help” and during his look back on her time in the community, said: “One of the great qualities I admire in you Teresa is your open heart and acceptance of new ideas and images of the mystery we call God in an evolving universe.” He continued: “Here you are Teresa in your 90th year, staying connected with your mobile phone, participating in parish WhatsApp groups. You use your iPad for Zoom meetings and forwarding e-mails of the wisdom of Matthew Fox and Richard Rohr and little videos of blessings and prayers. You have mastered in your senior years this incredibly fast evolution of technology and connectivity and continue to spread the good news via the internet. “We know you will continue to keep in contact with us from Monaghan.” Thanking her for being “a great supporter of parish activities over the years, of our priests and parish priests,”

Finbarr noted that she is “never afraid to speak up and speak out”, in addition to being “nonjudgemental and never holding a grudge.” Noting how she reached out to other faiths, and was heavily involved in work throughout the community, Finbarr added: “You have been a stalwart of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, helping vulnerable individuals and families of this area in very concrete ways.” He drew to a conclusion by thanking her “for her wonderful ministry here in Newcastle and Castlewellan over many years” and wished her health and happiness in her retirement.

During last week’s service Fr Jim Crudden presented Sr Teresa with a gift from the parish, a keepsake box featuring a replica of a stained-glass window in the church and which was created by Trudy Burke. Congratulating Sr Teresa on her retirement, Fr Crudden said he was sending God’s blessing to her during this time of transition. “Sr Teresa has earned every blessing after years of excellent work in our parish and community. “May she continue to enjoy a fulfilling, peaceful and prayerful life. She will be missed but never forgotten,” he said.

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