A town's farewell to Joan Connor
'You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.'
The words of St Augustine, used by Fr Aidan Dunne, at the funeral mass of Joan Connor last Wednesday in St Peter's Church.
They were truly inspirational, for it was the spirit of love and respect that so empowered St Augustine in his life that reached through the ages to inspire Joan Connor as well.
The crowd that flowed from the church, down the steps and onto a beaming West Street lunchtime was testimony of the love people had for her.
She was synonymous with the Augustinian Church, part of the Penny Bank collection crew, something that made a difference to people's lives, maybe making a young child's Christmas, maybe putting food on the table for others. It was at times a thankless devotion that brought its own rewards.
When news reached College Rise and Drogheda that Joan had died in a car accident near Newry last Saturday week, the sense of grief was heartbreaking.
'It was like a power cut,' Fr Aidan explained. 'Someone so part of our lives and no longer there. But you can be certain she will always be with you. God has prepared a place for her and taken her home.'
Joan met her husband Pat while working in Quinnsworth and so began a chapter of life that brought smiles and fun, two fine children in Paul and Susan, and grandchildren, the centre of her life. She was Joan Connor for 41 years, but many still called her Joan Holly, the tag never left.
'She used to love to read and knit and crochet,' Fr Aidan continued. Indeed, she was such a master of the needle, many children around the world have been christened in her craftwork.
She attended the 11am mass each Sunday in St Peter's, so it was fitting her funeral mass be there, concelebrated by Fr Francis Ahern.
As the strains of the St Peter's Male Voice Choir carried heavy hearts from the church, Fr Aidan asked for people to remember brighter days 'Thank God for the wonderful times you had.'
When there's a party in College Rise next, when there's a child born and a time to say goodbye to a neighbour, Joan will be looking down, still there, still a friend.