Obituary for Sister Margaret McGrath, FMSJ

Posted on: 29 August 2022

Author:Sister Joan Kerley


Your prayers are requested for the repose of the soul of
who died at Blackburn Hospital on 27th August 2022

Catherine McGrath was born in Glasgow on 4th August 1940, the fourth child of Daniel and Catherine McGrath. She is predeceased by her sister, Margaret, and survived by her brothers Thomas and Daniel. Catherine entered the Congregation on 28th May 1958 and the Novitiate on 6th January 1959 at Altrincham where she also made First Profession on 29th June 1960 and Perpetual Profession on 8th Sept 1965. She received the name Sister Margaret Pole.

Margaret was appointed to St Peter’s, Freshfield after First Profession but then returned to Altrincham to study for her O levels. She spent time in Cork to prepare for University entrance but was asked to leave this and go to the Finance Office of Catholic Children’s Rescue Society where she worked for ten years. After a year as Librarian in Mill Hill she went to Eccleshall to teach music before being appointed Local Superior at the Generalate and assistant to the Procurator. In 1984 she became Congregational Bursar and here she saw the Congregation through difficult years of low finances. She appealed to Mill Hill and worked with Fr Bill Tollan MHM to successfully establish our Mill Hill Pension Fund. She also applied for the State Benefits to which we were entitled thus helping us to establish our Care Homes in Blackburn and Burnley.

In 1993 Margaret went to the Franciscan Study Centre in Canterbury and studied Franciscanism followed by two years at St Bonaventure’s in the US where she obtained a BA and MA in Franciscan Studies, excelling in her exams and anxious to share her knowledge with the Sisters of the Congregation. Passionate about Francis and Clare, she encouraged our Sisters to make Franciscan retreats and also trained as a Spiritual Director. Her energy in this field was boundless and she was also active in the Franciscan Association. She became a lecturer at the Franciscan Study Centre and was Vice Principal until the time of its closure. She served as a General Councillor from 2005 and was chair of the UK Formation Team. She also mentored the Associate Membership Programme. She was writing a book on the spirituality of Mother Francis until she became too sick to continue.

Severe illness with many periods in various hospitals marked the last thirty years of her life but Margaret remained committed to the Congregation and faithful to God in her service of others. She was devoted to her family and shared holidays with her brothers. She made friends easily and many from Canterbury remained in contact with her when she left. She moved to Franciscan Convent, Burnley in 2019. Margaret became unwell with Covid and was admitted to Blackburn Hospital on 13th August. She improved but later deteriorated and her heart and lungs failed. She died peacefully at 7pm on Saturday 27th August with her close friend, Sr Maureen Murphy, at her side.