People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are forgotten. ~ From the Archbishop of Canterbury's homily at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral
On Tuesday our international Society celebrated the 223rd anniversary of the moment when, with great zeal and audacity, and immense trust in the fidelity of God in the face of an uncertain future, Sophie and her first companions pledged their lives to God, and to the beginnings of our mission of Love. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the thousands of women, from all continents and a multitude of backgrounds, who, over the past two centuries, have lived and died in the Sacred Heart, playing their own part in our ongoing story. And within that multitude, so many women - and leaders - of genuine, self-given loving service. And on Tuesday morning their number increased, as one of our sisters peacefully slipped into death, and the end of her earthly share in our mission.
A Sacred Heart educator to her fingertips and to the end, was how I described Anne when I posted on social media. And indeed she was, as was evident from many tributes, which spoke of her warmth and kindness, as much as her memorable, more publicly known qualities as a headteacher for many years. Certainly, my experience of Anne was simply of someone who was quietly, unostentatiously and cheerfully loving, and who embraced whatever service was asked of her, as a living out of the YES she had first professed many years before. And a lifelong educator... the last time I saw her, two months ago, she was already so very frail, but came alive, gathering strength and sharing her own experience, when I started talking about the work I do promoting Catholic Social Teaching in schools.
As a teacher, and as a sister, a friend, a wise guide, a much-loved aunt... Anne gave her life, wholeheartedly, as a woman of loving service, revealing the infinitely greater love of the One to whom she had pledged her life - and for all this, she will long be remembered and loved.