District pays tribute to much loved nuns

By David Whelan

HUNDREDS of people are expected to line the streets of Ardoyne tomorrow (Friday) to pay tribute to two much-loved nuns who tragically lost their lives in a road accident earlier this week.

Sister Frances Forde and Sister Marie Duddy of the Sisters of Mercy Order based at Ballysillan House on Crumlin Road, died on Tuesday (September 30) after the car they were travelling in collided with an unmarked police vehicle close to Newry.

A Requiem Mass is to be held at Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne tomorrow (October 2) at noon and will be concelebrated by the pair’s brothers Fr Peter Forde and Fr Brendan Duddy.

Tributes have been pouring in for the pair, who were in their seventies, since news of their tragic death broke.

Sr Frances, a former principal of Mercy Primary School until 2003 is remembered fondly in the Holy Cross parish where she led morning prayer and headed up a bereavement team that visited many families throughout the years.

Sr Marie sat on the Mercy board of governors and also taught in Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School, Queen’s University and in Africa.

A book of condolence has been opened at Mercy Primary School, close to where the two nuns lived.

Current principal and former pupil Elaine Loughran said that pupils, parents and grandparents had all visited the school to share their memories.

“Sr Frances was an amazing, gentle and kind woman,” she said.

“Her impact is evident throughout the school and that far reaching impact is evident through the tributes pouring on to the school’s Facebook page and through the condolence book that we have here at the moment.

“Many past pupils, staff, parents and family have all come to sign and to tell us really what impact she has had on their lives.

“Sr Frances was part of my welcoming committee when I first came to the school as principal, she brought me a lovely mass card, gave me a massive hug and said how delighted she was that a Mercy girl had come back.”

As well as her educationalist work Sr Marie was a published author having written a book about the history of her Order

“Sr Marie, was our chair of governers, so she has been working more behind the scenes both here and in Mercy College. She was here just last week for a governors meeting. The two ladies did live here in the house directly opposite the school so we would have saw them on a regular occurrence.

“It’s a tragic occurrence and our thoughts go out to their wider family and everyone whom their lives touched.”

Fr Gary Donegan rector of Holy Cross Church described the women as an “institution amongst the community” and said that his prayers went out to all those affected by the loss.

Ardoyne community worker Paul McCusker said that Sr Frances would be fondly remembered for the help she gave to the people of North Belfast.

“Sr Frances supported so many families – including my own – when people had lost loved ones,” he said.

“I was working in the Mater Hospital when I heard the news and a lot of nursing staff who knew her were very upset.

“Reading social media and speaking to local people it was clear to see the impact she had on so many people’s lives and will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with her family and the family of Sr Duddy at this sad time. She certainly gave her life to help others and supported so many people in the Ardoyne and surrounding areas.”

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