Bridget Reilly (Sr. Marie Aloyz) was born in Drumnaveigh, Co. Cavan on 2nd April 1929. She was the third of five children, two boys and three girls, born to Owen and Susan Reilly. On the 8th September 1950 Bridget responded to God’s call to join the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace at Rearsby. She made her First Profession on 15 August 1953 and her final profession on 15 August 1956.
Throughout her long and active life Sr. Marie Aloyz served in many of our community projects. As a young Sister her first appointment was to our convent at Mapperley, Nottingham. At the time this was quite a large community of Sisters and many elderly Sisters retired there and were looked after until God called them home. Marie served and cared for all in a very generous way. She then joined our community at St. Hugh’s Convent, Cleethorpes where she lived for a number of years. This was a particularly busy convent as the Sisters ran a small hospital/nursing home and Marie with a few staff looked after the laundry. In 1965 Sr. Marie was appointed to St. Peter’s Seminary, Kilmahew, Scotland where she helped look after the needs of the students for three years. In 1968 she moved to St. Charles’, Carstairs, Scotland where she was to serve until 1981. St. Charles’ comprised a school and residential facility for people with special needs. Children - boys and girls - were catered for up to the age of sixteen. Girls who could go home did so but others stayed on at St. Charles’ for the rest of their lives. Marie helped to look after the residential houses of the girls and boys. This was quite demanding as it necessitated after school supervision in the evenings and at weekends, providing entertainment, sorting out problems and the myriad other things that are part of caring for children and adults.
During this time Marie’s sight began to deteriorate and in spite of all the doctors’ efforts and hospital attendances she was eventually registered as blind. In 1981 Carstairs closed, as the trend was to integrate people with special needs into society, and Marie moved to Rearsby. Here she adjusted well to her new surroundings. She had a good knowledge of the house and was quite independent. Marie helped Sister Mary Doyle in the garden and on summer evenings she delighted in using the hose pipe to water the flowers round the front of the house. We often marveled at a blind woman being so attentive to the flowers which she didn’t have the joy of actually seeing. Hers was a selfless dedication which was wonderful to experience. Marie also joined the club for blind people that met weekly in Syston and enjoyed socialising with her companions there. She also received the Audio Tapes from the Society for the Blind, on Scripture, Local News and World News which she enjoyed listening to. She kept us updated on news and many other events. The radio was her constant companion and afforded her many hours of pleasure.
Sr. Marie was close to her family and they were attentive to her. She enjoyed her annual holiday in Ireland meeting family and friends. The children at home took care of Marie when she went on holidays and led her round the house, garden, and farm making sure she was safe. When she was no longer able to go to Ireland her family came over to see her. Family members living here in England were equally attentive. Marie loved visiting them and enjoyed a few days with them. When no longer able to make the journey, her niece Ann and nephew Alex came regularly to Rearsby to see her.
Marie was a woman of deep faith and prayer. She spent many hours a day in prayer. Once Marie was asked to pray for someone she did it without fail and with constant dedication. We were all familiar with her many prayers at office and at Mass, for people, for events and concerning troubling information she would have heard about on the radio.
For the past few years Marie has been an invalid needing 24-hour care. Throughout that period Marie seemed completely at ease with her disabilities. We never heard her complain. She was cheerful and contented. Marie was ready to go when God wanted her and she died peacefully on 21st January, 2016.
"We must be signs of hope and healing in the midst of the cultural reality in which we find ourselves."
Ann Rutan, CSJP