From Sr. Rosemary Gallagher:
Our beloved Sr. Mary Mallon, Coleraine, Northern Ireland, Bat Kol alumna 2001, 2003, died very early on April 24, 2011, Easter Sunday morning, after several months of struggling with cancer. The funeral mass was held at St John's Parish Church in Coleraine and burial was in the little cemetery in Loreto Convent on Tuesday, April 26.
Mary will long be remembered in the hearts of many of us at Bat Kol: her lovely gentle sprit, her passion for study and teaching of the Word of God, her gift of laughter and poetry. Sr. Rosemary Gallagher, also a Bat Kol alum, wrote of Mary’s love of the Bible in these words: A member of one of her Bible groups probably summed it up very well when she said, "When Mary talked about Abraham, Joseph, Jeremiah and the others you knew she was talking about friends whom she knew and loved."
Rosemary continues, “The Requiem Mass today was truly beautiful. Celebrated in a packed parish church with the birds singing and the sun streaming through the windows one truly felt the joy of the Risen Lord and Mary's joy in His presence. The children from the Primary School in Omagh where Mary had been principal for so many years and had established such a tradition for music came and their singing of Rutter's ' May God bless you and keep you.' It was truly heavenly. In his homily Fr Charlie Keeney talked about her enthusiasm for life and the energy and creativity she put into every thing she did, an enthusiasm that even touched her death. On our return journey one day from Castlerock, Mary said to me, “I want to die well. You only get one shot at it, and I want to get it right! Don't let them pray all the time I want you to organize times of silence so that I can really be focused and still.” She had such a wonderful approach to death?
After Communion I had the great privilege of reading one of her poems Resurrection (see below) and these verses from the Song of Songs (2.10-12) that she so loved and sang a week before she died:
My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
As her coffin was lowered gently into the earth the birds were singing their hearts out and two of her little grand nieces were sitting on the grass making daisy chains while we sang the Regina Coeli.
Truly we were blessed to have lived with a woman of such love and sheer goodness.
How many resurrections, Lord, you've wrought in me!
In retrospect so certain, clear
Your wisdom guiding days of pain
when little deaths of anguish swamped all hope,
except the faintest flame
buried beneath the numbing sense of loss,
anxiety, anger, doubt and fear,
the pain of life that drained all hope of joy
for future days, the grief, the near despair.
I unaware that seed then sown in dark untrusting soil
watered by tears, was gently opening into new life,
deeper far in joy undreamed of previously.
How many deaths and resurrections, Lord,
You've wrought in me!
I never learn deep down
what outer layer of intellect knows well.
God's love that finds delight in us will never fail.
He holds us in his hand.
Teach me deep down to trust,
let go in many dyings yet to come
before the final death that ends all grief
and opens to eternal life.