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PENAMPANG – Franciscan Sister Eithne (Felicity) McCarthy was called to eternal life on 4 March 2018 at the Convent of St Francis, Blackrock Road, Cork. She was 87.
Eithne McCarthy was born on 18 June 1930, the seventh of eleven children of Maurice and Annie McCarthy, in Co Donegal, Ireland, where her father had been temporarily assigned. The following year the family returned to Cork, where Eithne grew up. She is survived by her sisters Maureen and Sister Ursula and her brother Declan who lives in the United States.
Seeking direction about her vocation, Eithne made a novena to the Little Flower in the SMA Church near the convent. The Sisters had been making the novena for a postulant. At the close, on the Feast of the Little Flower, Eithne followed the Sisters to the convent and expressed her desire to enter.
Eithne entered the Congregation on 11 February 1951 in Blackrock Road and exactly one year later she entered the Novitiate at Altrincham receiving the name Sister Felicity. She made First Profession on 29 June 1953 and five years later she made her Perpetual Profession also in Altrincham.
Sister Eithne was trained in business studies, bookkeeping, shorthand and typing when she entered but after profession she was sent to do teaching training at Mount Pleasant Teacher Training College in Liverpool. She worked hard and qualified in 1958 and left for Borneo the same year. She taught in Jesselton (St Francis Convent), Tawau and Seria and was a popular teacher. Her file contains an email sent through Sister Ursula from a past pupil who wrote “I was a distracted student and most teachers had given up on me. You refused not to believe in me and you inspired me and turned me round academically. Your impact on me was immeasurably positive and I am so grateful to you for altering my life.”
When the Sisters were expelled from Borneo Sister Eithne spent some time teaching in Rochdale and Blackburn before being appointed as assistant superior and novice mistress in Broughton Hall. In 1983 she went to do a theology course in Maynooth, Ireland and was then appointed to Leyland as a parish Sister where she stayed for five years. She is lovingly remembered there today.
In 1989 Sister Eithne returned to Ireland and after three years in Prague House she moved to Dublin where she spent nine years in parish work. During this time she was also community leader and on three occasions she was elected as a Regional Councillor. Sister then returned to Blackrock where she was to spend the rest of her life. When her sister, Maureen, become too frail to live alone Sister Eithne went from Monday to Friday each week to stay with her and returned to the community at weekends. In time her sight and hearing deteriorated badly and when she became unable to continue, Sister Ursula took over the care of Maureen.
Almost blind and almost deaf Sister Eithne remained cheerful and active. She had a beautiful smile and a good sense of humour. She walked up and down the stairs and all around the house to keep mobile and at last she had the time she had often craved for prayer and reflection. She prayed every day for the General Leadership Team to be guided in all their decisions. She was always grateful for the least thing anyone did to help her
On Sunday Mar 4, Sister Eithne joined the community for Mass and lunch and was her normal self. After lunch she made the Stations of the Cross. When she did not go to the kitchen as she usually did to fetch her supper around four o’clock Sister Mary Coyne went to see if she was alright and found her dead in her room. She died as she had lived, quietly and with no fuss.
The funeral Mass for Sister Eithne was held at the Convent of St Francis on March 8 at midday followed by burial at St Oliver’s cemetery. – FMSJ website