Tributes paid to much-loved Sister Brigid

Stster Brigid
Stster Brigid

A former Alnwick nun who was a popular, much-loved and instrumental figure in the community has died, aged 83.

Sister Brigid passed away on Wednesday, November 18, at the Convent of Mercy in Doncaster, following an infection.

A reception of her body into St Paul’s Church, Alnwick, will be held at 4pm on Monday.

The church will host a funeral mass on Tuesday at 11am, followed by a burial in Alnwick Cemetery.

Born in Enfield, County Meath, Ireland, in 1932, Elizabeth Loughlin had three sisters and two brothers.

She was educated by the Presentation Sisters in Kilcock, County Kildare, and maintained a life-long friendship with them. Her Presentation Headmistress, Mother Ethna, came on holiday to Alnwick on numerous occasions.

In September 1949, Elizabeth entered the Convent of Mercy in Alnwick. After spending six months as a postulant, Elizabeth began her novitiate and was given the name of Mary Brigid.

After three years of novitiate, Sister Brigid began her teacher training at Sacred Heart College, in Fenham, Newcastle, where she made many life-long friends. Having completed her training, she always attended her class reunion meetings and kept up with her friends.

Her first teaching post was in St Cuthbert’s Primary School at Crook, in County Durham, where she taught for a few years before returning to Alnwick to teach at Our Lady’s Convent High School.

In 1964, Sister Brigid studied for a geography degree at Dublin University. Again, she proved to be a very popular student, befriending, in particular, many foreign students and bringing them to Alnwick for the college holidays.

In 1984, Sister Mary Raphael retired as headteacher of Our Lady’s Convent High School and was succeeded by Sister Brigid who continued to run a thriving school of 300 day girls and 180 boarders, until her retirement in 1993.

After retirement, Sister Brigid became more involved with the parish, helping in church, reading at mass and taking her turn as Eucharistic Minister. She was particularly good to the sick and housebound, taking meals to some and spending time with them.

She was instrumental in opening Alnwick’s Bailiffgate Museum. She stood down as a trustee three years ago.

Tom Pattinson, former chairman of trustees at the museum, said: “She was a lovely lady and so active in the community. She was the museum’s guardian angel.”

Another interest was working with a group of Mercy Associates – people who will continue the Mercy charism in the parish.

Over the last few months, her health was failing and she had many falls, resulting in debilitating back injuries.

She spent a few weeks at Abbeyfield Nursing Home, in Alnwick. However, after severe infections, she was admitted to Cramlington hospital and later to Wansbeck where she spent a few weeks.

Her friends and past pupils were loyal and caring while she was hospitalised. Father Des McGivern – her parish priest of many years – visited her in hospital daily.

After leaving hospital, Sister Brigid moved to the Convent of Mercy in Doncaster where she had chosen to live following the closure of the convent in Alnwick at the end of September. She was welcomed into the Doncaster Community and given every possible care and attention by the Sisters and carers.

She was able to attend daily mass, join the community for meals and was taken around the garden in her wheelchair by the carers. She praised the Sisters and carers at Doncaster who did everything to help her. But, the infection which necessitated hospitalisation returned. She died peacefully, surrounded by her Community.

A spokesman for the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy said: “She will be missed by many – her family who came to visit her every weekend since she became ill, her friends and parishioners and particularly by the remaining Sisters of the Alnwick Community who lived and worked with her over many years. Having spent many years in Alnwick, she knew everyone and was well liked. She corresponded with her past pupils/staff and took an interest in their lives.”