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Letterkenny woman felt joy despite sadness of Pope Benedict funeral

Mary Maguire said she felt great joy in her heart as she read the lesson despite the sadness of the occasion. Picture by RTE.
Seamus McKinney

A CO Donegal woman asked to read at Pope Benedict's Requiem Mass said she felt no nerves as she stood before thousands of mourners at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Mary Maguire from Letterkenny was asked on Monday to travel to Rome for yesterday’s funeral Mass but told not to make it public.

Her husband Ciaran told The Irish News his wife initially felt she could not take on the task but with his support and the support of their grown-up family she agreed to do the reading".

Mrs Maguire is well known in Letterkenny for her voluntary work with the St Vincent de Paul conference.

She also helps her husband in his work as manager of St Vincent’s Colmcille Hostel for the homeless in the town as well as being a weekly reader in her home parish of St Eunan’s.

Mr Maguire said it was through her service as a reader at St Eunan’s that she came to be asked to travel to Rome.

“It was Monsignor Kevin Gillespie who asked her to go on Sunday. We all knew about it but were asked not to say anything. It’s great honour and we are all very proud of her. It’s a great honour for the diocese of Raphoe and for the country,” Mr Maguire said.

He said his wife travelled to Rome on Tuesday and took part in a practice at St Peter’s on Wednesday night.

“I was in touch with her all week. She said she wasn’t nervous and was very pleased with the way the practice went; the Vatican people said everything was fine.”

When the couple initially told their children, Mr Maguire said they refused to believe them.

“But when they accepted it, they were fully behind her and knew Mary would do us proud,” he said.

In an interview with RTÉ at the Vatican, immediately after Requiem Mass, Mrs Maguire said she felt great joy despite the sadness of the occasion.

“I know myself it’s such an honour. Today when I was reading there I just had so much joy in my heart afterwards, real, real joy. Although it’s a sad occasion, I just felt so much joy and an honour to be here,” Mrs Maguire said.

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