On Wednesday, 21st of September, myself, five other students and our chaplain, Suzanne, travelled to Our Lady and All Saints Church, Parbold, a village near Wigan, to represent our school at Sister Ellen’s funeral. Sister Ellen, a Notre Dame Sister, was headteacher at our school in the late 1980s and early 1990s and, as we learned in the eulogy, she was heavily involved in developing the first mission of the sisters of Notre Dame in Nigeria. Having the opportunity to be there for my brothers and I was an honour, since she was headteacher when both of our parents were at Notre Dame!
When we arrived at the church, we were greeted by a few of the Notre Dame Sisters, who thanked us for attending. Also present at the funeral were many other Notre Dame Sisters and some nuns from a different religious order who had known Sister Ellen throughout her life. There were also students and staff representatives from Notre Dame College and St Julie’s School in Liverpool. It felt very special to have this opportunity to be with other members of the Notre Dame community and also made me feel part of the wider Notre Dame community. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop John Rawsthorne, who was previously Bishop of the Hallam Diocese.
After the requiem Mass the coffin was carried out of the church where all the students formed a guard of honour. Sr Ellen’s coffin was carried from the church to the grave by several of the Notre Dame Sisters. It was a solemn moment.
We then travelled to a local parish centre where we had the opportunity to speak with Bishop John, Sister Catherine and Sister Margaret, who worked at our school for many years and still acts as a governor here. She told us many stories about her time in Sheffield, both at the current site at Oakbrook but also at the former site on Cavendish Street. After enjoying some lovely cakes and hot drinks, we said our goodbyes and set off back to Sheffield feeling reminded of the wider community that we’re part of.