Gone but not forgotten

Sr Redempta Twomey. Photo: Missionary Society of St Columban

Sr Redempta Twomey. Photo: Missionary Society of St Columban

Just as I was about to have lunch a few hours ago with Fr Tomás King, he told me the sad news of the death of Sr Redempta Twomey at the Columban Sisters’ home in Magheramore, Wicklow.

While I knew that she was very ill, I did not think her death was so imminent. On hearing of her death I felt a deep sense of loss and sadness. I would have regarded her as a very good friend.

She was so well known for her very deep reflections which appeared regularly in The Far East magazine and other Columban publications. 

She was greatly appreciated throughout Britain, Ireland and Australia. I found myself returning again and again to these reflections that gave me such food for thought and sustenance.

I remember one in particular that was entitled, ‘A small footstep’. Redempta relayed the story so beautifully. A South African woman was being interviewed. She was in charge of an orphanage and the children there were her great pride and joy. 

The interviewer asked her: When you die what would you like to be remembered for?

Her answer was along these lines: “When I die and meet my Maker I want to have used every gift God has given me. I want to die empty-handed. I want that I will have expended everything in restoring life and dignity to the children.”

Redempta reminded me of this South African lady. She shared so beautifully and generously her many gifts with so many people, through her writings, reflections, retreats and her humanity.

I certainly, and many Columbans also, will miss her weekly visits to Dalgan in Ireland. She was part of the Community, loved and respected by young and old. She would often say to me during the many conversations I had with her, that “we are getting old”. One could see a deeper side to this statement. She was preparing to let go. Dalgan will not be the same again without her presence.

She has now returned to God with empty hands having so generously shared her many gifts with so many. I am sure the good Lord will have had a great welcome for her.

Redempta will be greatly missed by all Columbans, her friends and her family. I thank them for gifting her to the Missionary Sisters of St Columban and I thank the Columban Sisters for sharing her with so many. 

Finally, a word of sympathy to the Columban Sisters and thanks to her dear friend, Sr Clare Slattery, who was there with her during her final illness and indeed on many other occasions. They thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company and friendship.

Redempta, slán abhaile. I hope you will enjoy God’s kingdom as much as you enjoyed your own native Kingdom of Kerry and especially Killarney. Rest in peace dear friend.

Columban Fr John Boles has worked in South America for over 20 years.

From Sr Redempta

In her reflection 'A small footstep', Sr Redempta wrote: How good it would be if we began our journey with a ‘little footprint.’ If we take stock of our lives and, instead of shoring up our riches, walk through the days and months in a spirit of giving and sharing, we will undoubtedly uncover many hidden talents that God has given us to build up community. Loosening our grip on those ‘must have’ possessions, ridding ourselves of the accretions that blind us to the poverty and pain of others will help to puncture our inherent narcissism and free us to really ‘see’ the other. We travel light when we let go of prejudices, when we forgive, when we pay attention and respond to the nudging Spirit in our hearts. 

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