A LORETO nun who “made an enormous contribution to the education” of young people in the Omagh area, has been laid to rest.
Sr Aengus Fitzpatrick, originally from Dublin, passed away on Thursday morning last, following a short illness.
The founder of Hazel Wand Theatre School, Sr Aengus taught for many years at St Brigid’s High School in the town and for services to the performing arts, she was awarded an MBE in 2010.
“She has been very much part of the wider Omagh community for the past 36 years,” Monsignor Joseph Donnelly told mourners at Sr Aengus’s funeral mass at the Sacred Heart Church on Saturday.
“During that time she had a huge impact on the life of the area and made an enormous contribution to the education of the young people over the years. Those who came to the wake, to the church yesterday evening and who have come for the funeral Mass today give clear testimony to the important part she has played in their lives.”
Sr Aengus joined the Loreto Community in 1962 and made her final profession in 1970.
She spent her early years in the Dublin area before coming north to Coleraine in the 1970s. She came to Omagh in 1981 and taught first in St Brigid’s. Then in 1993 she formed Hazel Wand.
Monsignor Donnelly continued, “It was an imaginative and challenging move requiring great courage and faith.
“It was, in many ways, a leap in the dark. But she believed in her vision and in the pupils she gathered around her. It was education in the most basic meaning of the term – drawing out of her young pupils what was innate, what was in their being, and giving them the confidence and competence to express themselves.
“Her project was hugely successful and generations of pupils will be eternally grateful to her for her encouragement and assistance and the generous use of her time for their benefit. She was awarded an MBE for her undertaking and was honoured by the Omagh District Council for her successful work of promoting the arts among the youth of Omagh and District. Many of her pupils were successful in GCSE Drama and AS and A Level Theatre Studies.”
He added, “Her students, past and present, will be especially saddened by her untimely death. The relatively recent news that her condition was terminal came as a shock to those who knew her. Her family, community and friends kept vigil at her bedside and were with her when she died. The time had come for dying, as did the time for mourning, the time for tears, the time for letting go. The “wand” has been handed on and it is for others to pick it up. No doubt her school will want to honour her memory in their own way at a later stage for the benefit of the community when the sharp edge of grief and sadness is eased.
“Today we have the sense that the lights are dimmed and the curtain has come down as we acknowledge the tremendous contribution Sr Aengus has made to this community.”
Following the funeral on Saturday, Sr Aengus’s remains were interred at Loreto Abbey Cemetery in Rathfarnum, Dublin.
Monsignor Donnelly concluded, “I offer my deepest sympathy and that of the priests of the parish to her sister, Siobhan, to her brother-in-law, Robert, to her nephew, Shane; to her Loreto Community, to the Hazel Wand Theatre School, pupils past and present and to the wider community, and to all who will miss her presence.”