CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Death notice

HONG KONG (SE): Columban Sister Barbara O’Sullivan died peacefully at the nursing home of the society at Magheramore in Wicklow, Ireland, on September 19.

A veteran of Hong Kong for 51 years, she began work as a nurse on the staff of the Ruttonjee Sanatorium in Wan Chai the day after she got off the boat, an experience that left her with an in-depth understanding of the desperate health situation in the colony at the time.

She recalled when she was leaving Hong Kong in February 2003 that both tuberculous and leprosy were widespread, and people lived in great fear of all diseases.

In addition, there was a high proportion of babies born with deformities and when she moved on from the sanatorium she became the matron of a new facility in Sandy Bay set up specifically to care for such children.

In the early 1980s her career experienced a radical change when she responded to a request from John Cardinal Wu Cheng-chung to help him clear up a backlog of work in his office.

She stayed for 22 years, making it her longest running job, acting first as his secretary and friend, and finally his nurse.

She returned to Ireland in 2003 where she lived in retirement. Sister Redempta Twomey quoted her at her funeral as saying, “In the end nothing really matters.”

Sister Twomey called this her last wonderful gift to her community, friends and family. “Everything was handed over as she stood on the threshold between life and death, at peace in the certainty that soon Christ would come for her. She taught us that we must not fear death.”

She was buried on September 23 in the Columban Sisters cemetery. She may now be found dancing with the angels. May she rest in peace.

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