“Redempta shared so beautifully and generously her many gifts”

From Mirpurkhas in Pakistan, Fr Pat Raleigh pays tribute to Columban missionary Sr Redempta Twomey, Assistant Editor of the Far East magazine, who died on 27th February 2020.

Just as I was about to have lunch a few hours ago with 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 so regularly in the various Columban Magazines especially the Far East Magazine.

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

I remember one in particular which was entitled, ‘One 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 the 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. Redempta 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. 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 over many years, that “we are getting old”. One could see a deeper side to this statement. She was preparing to let go.

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.

She shared her many gifts with great joy. She never wanted to draw attention to herself and did shy away from any publicity when she need not have done so. She deserved all the praise she got.

In my journey as a Columban, I always found Redempta so encouraging. She certainly had the Kerry humour and a lovely twinkle in her eye. She was a very private person and somebody you could completely trust.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Redempta and like many others I will deeply miss her. Dalgan will not be the same again without her presence.

She was one of the best people I ever heard to give a Homily. Over the years she gave many wonderful Homilies, particularly at the funerals of many Columban Sisters and also at the funerals of some Columban priests.

She will be greatly missed by her family. I thank them for gifting her to the Missionary Sisters of St Columban. I thank the Columban Sisters for sharing her with so many. I offer my deepest sympathies to her family and above all to Sr Rose Gallagher in Magheramore and all Columban Sisters. You have lost a real treasure.

Finally, a word of sympathy 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.

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