Mother Joan gave me the strength to face life

MY father joined the British merchant navy at age 19 in 1944.

He saw Bombay harbour in flames. He never recovered and any aeroplane overhead or loud noise would cause him to fall on the ground in terror.

First my mother died of alcohol poisoning and then my father died a few years later. So it was with trepidation that, as a non-Catholic, I arrived at the Good Shepherd Convent in Durban, South Africa, to be met at the door by Joan Agnes McFadden – Mother Joan to the girls. “When Irish eyes are smiling, all the world seems bright and gay” ... that was her truth, for she gave us love, laughter, joy, fairness and the skills to face life.

Then dearest Mother Joan went on to care for the poorest of the poor dying of AIDS. What gratitude we owe her.

I am now 63 and there is not a day in these long years when her influence and that of the Irish nuns and priests who took me into adulthood has not played a significant role.

Dear Ireland, if only you knew what goodness and kindness, which are rare qualities indeed, your sons and daughters gave to us in distant lands you would burst with pride.

June Dilleigh

Painswick Road


Manchester M22 1GG


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