A photograph of Sister Lucy displayed at the altar in the Church of Our Lady Immaculate and St Philip Neri during a Memorial Mass this morning.

Tributes to Sister Lucy at Memorial Mass in Uckfield

Sister Lucy, a former head teacher at St Philip’s School, and well known in the Uckfield community for more than 40 years, was remembered at a special Mass this morning.

The order of service closely mirrored Sister Lucy’s funeral which was held at Midhurst on Tuesday, February 24.

The Mass was held at the Church of Our Lady Immaculate and St Philip Neri and began with the hymn Praise to the Holiest in the Height.

It included two solos sung by Jackie Nolan, Ave Maria and Panis Angelicus. The psalm was As the Deer Pants for the Water and the final hymn was Immaculate Mary. The organ and piano were played by Anthony Roberts, the organist at Holy Cross Church.

The Memorial Mass was celebrated by parish priest Father Stephen Hardaker with the homily by parish deacon, the Rev Dr David Tutt. Those attending were invited to stay for a buffet lunch afterwards.

Sisters of Mercy

Deacon David told the congregation that Sister Lucy, who died aged 91, joined the Sisters of Mercy when she was 16-years-old in 1939.

The community ran junior and senior boarding schools and Sister Lucy found her religious vocation in teaching.

She came to St Michael’s Convent in Uckfield in 1966 and after a year of teaching became head teacher at St Philip’s Primary School, a role she held for another 17 years.

On retirement from that role Sister Lucy became a governor of the school for five years and then ran Hill House Preparatory School, on what is now the Longbury Estate just above the church in New Town, until the school moved to Mayfield under new management in 1993.

Deacon David said Sister Lucy played a full part in the life of the Convent community and of the parish.

Diligent sacristan

“She was a very diligent sacristan for the church, and was always at the church door to greet people and to say farewell.

“She appeared to have the ability to bi-locate or at least to move between two places at considerable speed.

“In more recent times an altercation with an electric blanket cable and a few weeks on crutches slowed her momentum a little, but she still attended to her tasks with good humour and a generous heart.”

Then, said Deacon David, in Autumn 2009, together with Sisters Barbara and Anastasia, Sister Lucy oversaw the closure of St Michael’s Convent and their withdrawal to the Midhurst community where the sisters finally retired.

Three loves

Deacon David said Sister Lucy had three loves, her God, her priests and her people.

Her deep and sustaining love of God, founded on her family upbringing in Ireland and on her quiet and steadfast devotion to the life of prayer was underpinned by her knowledge and understanding of her Christian and Catholic Faith.

She also had a deep and sustaining love of the priests with whom she had contact, particularly the parish priests who had served the Uckfield parish down the years.

Deacon David said that Sister Lucy and Sister Anastasia would “sneak into the priest’s house when he was away, and do some cleaning, often tackling a large pile of washing up, often restocking the refrigerator, or leaving a plated meal prepared by Sister Barbara for the priest at the end of a busy day”.

Gentle and thoughtful care

He added Sister Lucy made his own arrival in the parish in 2003 much easier by her gentle and thoughtful care.

Deacon David went on to say that Sister Lucy loved her people, “loved you who are here today, and loved those generations of men, women and children who have passed through this parish or through our school in those more than 40 years with us.

“She knew you, each and every one of you, by name. She knew and cared about every joy and sorrow of your life.

“You often shared your cares and concerns with her and whatever your circumstances, she never judged anyone.

Never an unkind word

“Indeed, in my own experience, I never heart Sister Lucy say an unkind word about anyone. She had time for everyone, and time particularly for the children. Without doubt, Sister Lucy loved her people.”

Deacon David said Sister Lucy worked to bring God’s love to others so that others might know and experience that love, and she did so with a gentle joy.

“Today we acknowledge and give thanks for the life of Sister Lucy, who so lovingly served God and her fellow men and women.

“We draw from her life some indicators of how we might better live the Christian life, and we commend her to the mercy of our loving God. May she now rest in peace.”

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