Remembering Sr Paula Hennessy RIP

The sad news of Sr Paula Hennessy’s death on Tuesday, October 14 evoked expressions of genuine grief from all who knew her. Friends, former colleagues and neighbours came to pay their respects to a lady, whose cheerful nature, positive spirit and kindly concern had touched their lives in so many ways.

 Sr Paula was a Waterfordian and very proud of her native city. She took an active interest in all aspects of city life and history and was quick to hang out the Waterford flag, when County teams took to the pitch! She was born on Passage Road and went to school in Parnell Street Primary School and St. Anne’s Secondary School at the Ursuline Convent. There were even some classmates from her Primary School days at her funeral

 Sr Paula entered the Ursuline Community seventy years ago in 1944. In those seventy years, she experienced amazing changes in life within and outside her convent home. Nothing daunted, she faced every change and challenge with that optimistic and willing spirit, so characteristic of her. Life was to be relished and she set to incorporating the new with zest. She was a very committed and faithful Religious all her life and embraced the changes after Vatican II with enthusiasm and zeal.

 Teaching Home Economics was Sr Paula’s main ministry and many will remember her dedication and care for her students. During the visits of past pupils to the Convent last week, many anecdotes of classroom experiences with Sr. Paula were narrated with affection. She also worked for many decades in the Boarding School, supervising the Dining Room, Study Hall and dormitories. The fear of not having one’s cubicle in perfect order when Sr. Paula was on duty taught many a “young lady” useful lessons in tidiness for the future.

 On retiring from the classroom, Sr Paula was still a familiar figure in the school, where she continued to run the School shop. She delighted in finding out what students needed and going down town on her bike to seek out the cards and candy as well as more prosaic stock for the school store. Part of her objective in the shop enterprise was to provide funds for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Sr Paula was one of the first women to join the Sacred Heart SVP conference and from that time until her death she was a stalwart supporter of the Society, continually raising funds for SVP work. One of her happiest achievements was setting up a Junior Conference in the Ursuline Boarding School and many would have seen her walk up The Folly with her girls to visit patients in St Patrick’s. It was a great delight for her to learn that that Junior Conference, which ended when the boarding school closed, has been revived again, just last year. True to form, Sr Paula had a warm welcome for the new members, who came to visit her, and treated them to a condensed history of the earlier SVP Junior conference so that they would know their roots!

 A large crowd gathered for her Funeral Mass in the Sacred Heart Church on October 16th. Rev. Fr. Gerard Chestnutt PP presided at the Requiem which was concelebrated by Fr. Sean Melody, Monsignor John Shine, Fr. Jim Mulcahy and Fr. Ailbe Murphy OFM.

Warm sympathy was extended to her sister in law, Mrs. Kitty Hennessy, Carrigeen Park, her nephews Paul and David and their wives Angela and Anne-Marie, and her grand-nephews Ben, Bill and Tony.

Sr. Paula will be greatly missed by her family, her many friends and especially her Ursuline Community.

May her gentle soul rest in peace.