Monday 22 July 2019

Sr Joseph embrace the joy of Wexford and carried it in her heart

The late Sr Mary Joseph Keating.
The late Sr Mary Joseph Keating.

By Sara Gahan

Much-loved Sr Mary Joseph Keating from the Perpetual Adoration Convent, Bride Street Church sadly passed away Sunday, September 17, at the great age of 97.

A native from Rathkeale, Limerick, Sr Joseph was born on January 14, 1920, to Michael and Bridget Keating and attended school in Knockaderry and the Presentation Secondary School in Rathkeale until it was time for her to leave.

Sr Joseph had four brothers and one sister who have all predeceased her - Michael, John, Cornelius, Patrick and Mary.

Her friends would often say she loved going to Mass when she was younger, regularly spotted walking through fields upon fields to get to Knockaderry Church in Limerick for Benediction.

Meanwhile, Sr Joseph left Limerick in 1942 at 22-years of age during the war ('The Emergency') to enter the Perpetual Adoration Convent on Bride Street Church, Wexford and had resided there ever since.

It took her two days to travel from Limerick, and she had to spend a night in Waterford city before getting a train the next day to Wexford.

Her brother Michael and sister Mary would regularly take trips to Wexford where they visited their sister in the convent, something she enjoyed very much.

Sr Joseph would also visit her family when she could, she loved her family with a passion and would always say 'family is so important' to her fellow sisters.

She was not one for the limelight or publicity, but through the years she attracted a lot of attention.

Five years ago a Russian artist called Natalia Dik painted a portrait of Sr Joseph for a competition, she won first place for the painting and donated it to the Wexford Borough Council.

Photographer Alan Mahon took a picture of Sr Joseph while she was enjoying one of her past-times - gardening. The picture ended up in the final for garden photography and appeared in the book 'International Garden Photo of the Year'.

Three years ago Sr Joseph completely lost her hearing, but this did not stop her from carrying on with life.

She was very adamant and determined on getting hearing aids that worked, even with the doctors in Waterford telling her 'they can't work miracles', it still did not stop her.

She discovered these implants she could get for her loss of hearing, even though they did not fully work she was happy that she could hear a bit.

People would still visit Sr Joseph frequently even when told she could not hear, they simply replied 'yes, but I just want to see her.'.

In 1987, Sr Joseph was Reverend Mother to the sisters who were awarded the Freedom of the Borough, which was around the same time they were celebrating their centenary of Adoration, coming from Rockfield to the Church of Assumption, Bride Street.

Gardening was a hobby of Sr Joseph's, she would tell the other Sisters 'only God can make flowers' and would sing as she watered her plants.

Sr Joseph had a very gentle manner and adored children, and she especially had all the time in the world for the travelling community. It did not matter who was in the convent visiting at the time, they were her first priority.

Many parents would bring their sick children to visit her at the convent, where she welcomed them with open arms.

Sr Joseph embraced the sorrow and joy of Wexford town and carried it in her heart, she prayed for a lot of souls and would send letters of compassion to those who reached out to her.

She loved to read, and would keep up-to-date on current affairs, world news, history and always had her bible by her side. She did not want her mind to deteriorate so she would often do cross words.

She was a very determined lady up to the time of her passing. In recent years she refused to use the wheelchair which was provided for her. Sr Joseph only used the wheelchair for one month before she died, and only to go to Mass.

Sr Joseph was well-known for looking after the alter in Bride Street Church, she looked after everyone and was a very thoughtful and relaxed woman.

The sisters said she was a great woman, a special lady, lived a beautiful life and never neglected her duties.

Wexford People

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