Principal was woman of warmth, compassion and vision
SISTER Eileen Bogues is fondly remembered in both Ireland and South Africa for her warmth, compassion and vision.
She dedicated her life to the education of young women in the schools of the Missionary Sisters of the Assumption, and the flood of tributes from past pupils this week is proof of the impact she made.
At the top-ranked Assumption Grammar in Ballynahinch, she was principal from 1983 to 1994, a period of huge change in education.
She also faced very different challenges at three schools in South Africa.
Those who worked with her recall her great kindness and her special feeling for those children less well off than others. She always had a strong desire to help them.
One of her favourite quotations was St Irenaeus's 'The glory of God is the human being fully alive' and throughout her life she strove to impart that in her teaching and leadership roles.
Born on Cullingtree Road in west Belfast in 1929, Sr Eileen's association with Assumption Grammar began as a pupil in 1942 - she later became head girl.
She entered the Assumption convent after school and moved to the order's home country of South Africa the following year, where she would spend much of her religious life.
Sr Eileen served as principal of Assumption Convent High School in Malvern, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, and spent some time teaching in Ballynahinch before being appointed its fourth principal since opening as the sisters' only Irish base in 1933.
Her time in charge was notable for the introduction of pastoral care structures and she brought the school confidently through the many reforms of the period including the switch to GCSEs.
She was not someone who paid lip service to the Catholic ethos in education; the formation of catechists was her life's work and she challenged 'her girls' to be living Christians in their own lives.
Pupils at the time included the future poet Leontia Flynn and many have been remembering her warm character and sense of humour, as well as a talent for acting and mimicry.
Sr Eileen returned to Africa in 1995 to continue her missionary work in the Diocese of Port Elizabeth, before retiring to the Assumption Convent in Port Alfred.
She died on November 14 surrounded by her community in Port Elizabeth and is survived by her many nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews and extended family.
A Mass in thanksgiving for her life will be celebrated in St Patrick's Church, Ballynahinch at 10am on December 15.