Sister Raphael, a truly great lady, dies peacefully aged 99

Golden Jubilee anniversary of Our Lady's Convent in Alnwick in May 1997.'From left, Sister Mercy, Sister Mary Raphael, Sister Aidan, Sister Bridgid, Sister Patrick, Mabel Forsyth and Sister Carmel.'Picture Jane Coltman
Golden Jubilee anniversary of Our Lady's Convent in Alnwick in May 1997.'From left, Sister Mercy, Sister Mary Raphael, Sister Aidan, Sister Bridgid, Sister Patrick, Mabel Forsyth and Sister Carmel.'Picture Jane Coltman

A nun who gave more than 82 years of service to education and the community has died.

Tributes have poured in for Sister Mary Raphael Maher who passed away in her sleep on Monday, January 26, two weeks before her 100th birthday.

A doctor was called on January 18 when she became unwell and gradually became less mobile over the following week.

Sister Theresa, Mother Superior at St Mary’s Convent of Mercy in Alnwick, told the Gazette that the sister, who would have turned 100 on Monday, had a peaceful death.

Known as Sister Raphael, she came over from Ireland in 1932 as a novice and went on to teach at the Convent’s all-ages school in Alnwick. This was where she discovered her talent for serving the community.

The 99-year-old later became headteacher at Our Lady’s Convent School where she served for many years.

Father Des McGivern, minister at St Aidan’s, Seahouses, said she would not be forgotten. “She was a great servant of God and a great servant of the parish and will be sorely missed by us all,” he said.

Maria Wilson, headteacher at St Paul’s RC School, added her tributes, noting her life of service to education.

She said: “Sister Raphael will be remembered by many for her dedication and commitment to Catholic education in Alnwick and she was particularly influential as headteacher at Our Lady’s Convent School.

“Her historical knowledge of the town and its people impressed everyone who knew her and reflects the love and care she had for our community. Even in her later years, new technologies did not phase her.

“As I recall, she had an eagerness to conquer the challenges of information technology at the age of 90. Sister Raphael – a truly great lady.”

There will be a requiem mass at St Paul’s Church, Alnwick, on Thursday, February 12, at 11.30am, in her memory.