MAUREEN CONSTANCE LANIGAN
1945 – 2014
It was with deep sadness that the Diocese learned of the death of Maureen Lanigan in the first week of September following illness.
She died at Waterford Regional Hospital Thursday 4th September and her funeral took place on Saturday 6th September, in St Canice’s Cathedral with Requiem Eucharist. Her burial followed at St Peter’s, Kington Langley, Wiltshire, England.
The Diocese expressed its deepest sympathies to her companion Pierce, her brother Andrew, her family and friends.
Maureen, English by birth had worked as a nurse in the WAAFs and married in England to Conor. She then came to Ireland as her husband was Irish and when he retired he wished to return to Kilkenny. They settled in the house in Joiner’s Folly on the outskirts of Kilkenny and Maureen became part of the parish scene of St Canice’s Cathedral.
When her husband died, the former dean the Very Revd Norman Lynas took the funeral service and subsequently suggested to Maureen that she should consider going for lay reading as she continued to reside in Kilkenny.
She involved herself in a variety of aspects of Kilkenny life, including acting as a doctor’s receptionist, working in the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and was instrumental among others in setting up the Kilkenny Rape Crisis Centre.
And then latterly she found friendship in her special companion: Pierce.
There was no avoiding the presence of Maureen in the early years, as she came to service in the cathedral, smartly attired with wide-brimmed hat and high heels.
She was for some years the Hon. Secretary of the Cathedral Select Vestry and when the parishes became a Union she continued to give of herself and sat on the Advisory Committee.
But it was as lay reader that Maureen came into her own.
Initially taking intercessions and readings in the church, she took it on herself to greet people brightly in the pew on a Sunday morning.
She attended the courses laid on by the Very Revd Tom Gordon and was commissioned as Diocesan Reader on Advent Sunday, 2nd December 2007 by the Bishop in St Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny. Many of the parish readers became Diocesan Readers and could then be requested to go further afield from their own parishes to assist with services. Maureen took on this expanded task and endeared herself to other parts of the Diocese as can been read in the notes and news of many of the parishes in this issue of the Magazine.
But, as can also be seen in this edition, her interest and loyalty to the Mothers’ Union was equally paramount. First as a member of the Kilkenny Branch, then Branch Leader and then finally as Diocesan President. And it was only this time last year in May 2013 that she was instituted at the Mothers’ Union Festival Service in Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny.
Flanked by bishops and MU officers, Maureen in pictured following her institution as Diocesan President of the Mothers’ Union.
An occasion when she was most obviously at her happiest. It is sad to consider that she never really had the opportunity to discharge her duties in that role. At her funeral service, the Bishop paid tribute to the officers of the Mothers’ Union in that they never let her think that through her absence with illness, she had been replaced.
Maureen may have been of slight build but she had a strong voice and mind. Her high-registered English accent made her easily heard and she was not averse to speaking her mind. As the Bishop also recalled, Maureen was a member of General Synod and he remembered with affection and gratitude how she spoke out fiercely with guts and clarity from the rostrum defending her bishop when he was under considerable pressure in the wider church.
Her funeral service was one she devised herself requesting a celebration of the Eucharist and the music of Stanford, Croft (funeral sentences) and Bach with the singing led by the choir under the direction of Malcolm Proud and David Forde. The service was led by the Vicar, the Revd Tim Irvine, the lesson was read by Maureen’s friend and Reader Carol Hennessy and the Gospel also by fellow Diocesan Reader George Kidd.
Prayers were led by Janet Crampton and the Warden of Readers, the Revd Canon Barbara Fryday.
Maureen was well enough to robe at St Laserian’s Cathedral for the Restoration of the Lady Chapel and continued to work in the Diocese, including joining the Mothers’ Union in their project meeting the families of prisoners at the family centre at the gates of Portlaoise prison.
She had hoped to be present at the MU Festival Service on 7th September but when she realised that she could only be there in spirit, she insisted that it go ahead, which it did, with the congregation very mindful of their late President.
A recent relapse had been too severe for her to combat and as the Vicar said in his address that the final word for Maureen was not her illness, suffering and death, but the new life in Christ which she now shares in all its fullness. That was the hope that Maureen celebrated each week when she carried out her duties as a diocesan lay reader, leading the community in its celebration of the first day of the new creation, the day on which all things were made new through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
And so the Diocese gave its servant and its friend back to God on 4th September 2014.
‘My soul doth magnify the Lord: and my Spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour’.
The Revd Norman Lynas sent this tribute to Maureen from Bermuda on receiving the news of her death. He had been dean of St Canice’s Cathedral and had been instrumental in encouraging Maureen to consider lay reading.
Maureen Diocesan Reader Sam Harper following their commissioning as Diocesan Readers on Sunday 2nd December 2007 and pictured with with the former Dean of St Canice’s Cathedral the Very Revd Norman Lynas and the former Vicar of Kilkenny the Revd Elaine Murray.
It was with no small measure of sadness that I received the news of Maureen’s death yet aware that for some time she had a clarity and perspective arising from a deep faith that enabled her to face the inevitable with courage and grace.
My first contact with Maureen was in early 1992 when on the daily round visiting her home at Joiner’s Folly. She was an active member of the congregation that attended St Canice’s Cathedral and some time after was elected to serve as a member of the Select Vestry. Diligent, punctual and concise were the qualities I observed and these were utilised to the full when she became the Secretary to the Select Vestry.
Also an active member of the Mothers’ Union she served on the organising committee with a calm and dignity that always sought to see the best in everyone. These qualities were recognised in her appointment as Diocesan President of the MU.
Her training as a Queen Alexandra nurse gave her an insight into the suffering of others and I was often struck by her willingness to visit those facing hardship due to the unrelenting assault of prolonged illness. She was no stranger to grief and hardship having lost her husband whom she met through nursing, in 1994.
Maureen had a conviction that never left her, namely that she had a call to serve in the Church and this call would take the form of training to be a Diocesan Lay Reader. Having fulfilled the training required she was commissioned in 2007 and was clearly delighted with the support she received from the then Kilkenny Group of Parishes now a Union.
On a lighter side Maureen was a quintessential English woman who had difficulty on occasion translating the subversive use of the English language employed by her fellow parishioners. Thus she did not comprehend that the word ‘no” did not mean ‘never’ but had a variety of renderings depending on the intonation of the person addressing her.
Maureen will be missed by her own, as well as the parish and diocesan family for her integrity and humility, and I will remember her with fondness and with thanksgiving as one who made a difference.
Rest eternal grant unto her O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon her. May the souls of the faithful by the mercy of God rest in peace.