‘Coalisland has an angel’ in tireless nun Sister Cecilia Jones

editorial image

The Coalisland community is in mourning following the death of a much-loved and dedicated nun.

Sister Cecilia Jones passed away at the age of 74 on St Stephen’s Day at St Clare’s Convent, Newry.

She had been based with the Sisters of St Clare in Coalisland parish for 12 years, and had worked tirelessly for the local community.

Tributes have flooded social media, describing Sr Ceclila as ‘a wonderful character, such a happy and holy lady, a blessing to anyone who needed her’, and ‘a real lady gone far too soon’.

Parishioners said she will be ‘sorely missed’ in Coalisland but the community now had an angel to watch over it.

She had spoken by phone to residents at a local nursing home on Christmas Eve, even though she was too weak and ill to leave her bed.

Parish priest Father Paul Byrne said it was truly remarkable the way she embraced the news that she was suffering from pancreatic cancer that was inoperable and untreatable.

“She accepted with great grace that she was coming to the end of her life. She told me then she had lived a great life and had no regrets and had enjoyed all of her 57 years of religious life.

“We have lost not just a religious sister, a sister, an aunt or a valued co-worker who ministered for 12 years in this parish, but we have lost a very dear friend.”

A special Mass celebrating her life was held on Tuesday in the Church of the Holy Family, Coalisland. Her funeral will take place on Thursday at 12 noon in the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Harold’s Cross, Dublin, followed by burial at Glasnevin Cemetery.

The Sisters of St Clare began their ministry in Coalisland in 1995 and lived in a temporary residence in Brackaville which was owned by Mrs Mary Duffy.

Sr Helen Conway decided to purchase a house in The Brambles, Stewartstown which the sisters moved into on September 16th 1996.

On October 16th, St Clare’s was officially opened and blessed by Archbishop Sean Brady- his first official engagement.

In January 2002, the sisters were honoured with the ‘Benemerenti Medal’ for their work in the Parish at a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Cathal Daly.

Among her duties, Sr Jones visited the housebound, the disabled, the bereaved and lonely, and local nursing homes.

She was also involved with SPRED, safeguarding for the Parish, Chaplaincy in Craigavon Area Hospital, Baptismal Programmes, Divine Mercy Devotions, Bereavement Group, Spiritual Direction for the Pioneer Association and the St Joseph’s Young Priest’s Society.