Just out of the blue I received a very complimentary e-mail two days ago from one Susan W. of Manchester, England. It was in response to a comment I made about Sr. Pauline Gaughan that she’d seen at butterfliesandwheels.org.
dated Oct 24th, 2009. The comment in question concerned itself with the fallout from an article with which Ophelia Benson
had linked and talked about on that specific day in one of her daily posts.
I responded to a direct quote from the article at B&W:
Marie-Thérèse O’ Loughlin
“When he calms down, even Stephen Fry knows the church does good – why else would he be hosting a fundraising event next month for the Passage, a day centre for the homeless, founded by Cardinal Hume, supported by Westminster Cathedral, inspired by the life of Christ”
Cardinal Hume might have started Passage -but all the hard work was mostly done by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent De Paul – who opened up their convent in Carlisle Place, Victoria.
Pauline Gaughan, whom I knew in London, gave up her teaching job to organise behind the scenes ‘Passage’ work with the homeless. She went further afield to Manchester and Liverpool and did more marvellous work with the homeless, marginalised and human rights and justice issues.
With the result of reading this article I googled ‘Passage’. I was stunned to learn that Sr. Ellen Flynn was up ’til recently chairperson of this homeless organisation.
As Sr. Ellen Flynn was the most kindest religious person I ever encountered in my whole young life. She also brought guitar and folk music into my young life and protected me from being kicked out of the girls’ hostel in London. Sr. Anne, who was in charge, could not abide me and wanted rid of me because of some small misdemeanour.
I was stunned to learn that Sister Pauline suddenly died.
I am tempted to e-mail Sr. Ellen. I have had no contact with her for over thirty five years. I have never ever forgotten her kindness.
It subsequently stirred up in me a huge longing to post long overdue personal expressions etc., regarding sudden sad departure of Sr. Pauline (Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul) R.I.P..
See: Obit Daily Telegraph Winter Sept 2007.
Sister Pauline. September 2nd, suddenly aged 71 years. Will be sadly missed by her sisters Margaret and Kate, her nieces and nephews and all of her many friends. Sister Pauline was a much loved member of The Daughters Of Charity at Cathedral Precinct and will be dearly deeply missed by everybody at the Cathedral. Funeral Mass at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral on Monday 10th September at 12.15 p.m., to be followed by interment at Yewtree Cemetery. On Sunday evening prior to her funeral Sister Pauline will be resting at her convent. Family flowers only please, but donations if desired to Seel Street Communities Work for the Homeless.—c/o Craven’s Donations Account. Enquiries to Craven’s Funeral Service 0151 228 3900
The following information I have collated from various Internet sources will give readers a bird’s eye view into the background of a very dedicated and very spiritual ex-teacher, who suddenly passed away in the winter of 2007 at the age of 71.
I knew her for years whilst residing in London during the seventies and early eighties. (She was in fact the catalyst for me finding my mother for the very first time. However, that is another story for another day) I was devastated upon reading about her passing on the Internet. It actually came about quite accidentally when I’d been commenting at butterfliesandwheels.org
on a 2009 post about the Passage.
I instantaneously reminisced about life in Victoria, London. My curiosity got the better of me and as one can see… it was not good news.
I was going to just post synopsis/link to following tale but decided instead to paste it in its entirety, as it is so very poignant and sums up perfectly the character of Sr. Pauline.
His name was Bert.
Her name was Pauline. He was a regular at the Passage Day Centre
near Victoria Station in London. She was a Daughter of Charity of St Vincent de Paul and worked there. Bert did his best, but the drink often got the better of him and many’s the night he slept in Bridge Road. Pauline
kept an eye out for him and made sure he had a good breakfast when he turned up at the Passage. Pauline knew that Bert had a family and phoned them every other week to keep in touch. She knew that he had a brother who ran a fruit stall in one of the South London markets. The months and years went by – the warm evenings of summer, the freezing nights of January. Bert got into a hostel and then was barred for violent drunken behaviour. He could be a very nasty foul mouthed person when the Bucky wine had done its work. But there was always the Passage for a bit of grub, a shower and a change of clothing. There was always Pauline to talk to and share his sorrows, his regrets and his frustration. There was always Pauline. One particular Monday morning in January Bert did not turn up at the Passage. On Tuesday there was still no sign of him. By Wednesday Pauline was worried. She asked his pals from the street and one of them – George – said that he had seen Bert on Saturday evening drinking in an alleyway just off the Strand. Pauline made enquiries with the Police and eventually she discovered that Bert had been found on Sunday evening behind a large upturned rubbish bin at Savoy Place. Bert was dead – he was frozen – he was mingled with the refuse from that part of our great, thrusting metropolis.The authorities wanted to have the funeral of this poor unfortunate pauper sorted out as soon as possible, Pauline pleaded to be given time to make some other enquiries.
She knew Bert’s brother had a market stall…but where exactly? She set off and visited Balham and Brixton and Bermondsey. She had her A-Z book of London. She got to Deptford and New Cross, Charlton and Camberwell. She even went out to Bexley. The authorities were getting tetchy – Bert’s body was taking up space in the morgue. Eventually after four weeks she arrived at Tooting market. “Does anyone know Bert Harris?” – she asked the same question over and over again. And then she found him. Nigel Harris was delighted and sad. Sad because someone he loved had died but delighted to know that his brother’s body was awaiting a funeral. He cried and he laughed and he thanked Pauline for finding him. He knew something was wrong when he had no phone call from Bert for almost five weeks. A week later Bert’s funeral took place at Westminster Cathedral. Nigel hired a double decker bus and all Bert’s pals from the streets went out to Streatham cemetery for the burial. He was laid to rest beside his mother and father. Afterwards they all had a lovely meal in a nearby hotel. This all happened many, many years ago. Last September Pauline – Sr Pauline Gaughan – died very suddenly in hospital. She went home to heaven. I’m sure one of the first people to greet her was Bert Harris. H/t: Father Fergus Kelly. CM. Issue: 25 Vincentian Concern Winter 2007. Spirituality.
Sr. Pauline helped many other men in similar circumstances to Bert. They included Irish and Scottish men who had lost touch with their families. The men had the height of respect for her, despite the incapacity to have respect for themselves on a physical level. I used to feel haunted by the neglect that they put themselves through and radiant at the way this sister of charity was able to reach out to them on a spiritual level. There was always an open door and a cup of tea for them at cornerstone as well as at the Passage which was only then starting up during my time of living in the nearby area of Francis St.
My name is Pauline Gaughan.
I am a Daughter of Charity. I am the Director of a programme called the Vincentian Volunteers. This programme gives young people (18 to 30 approx.) the opportunity of a meaningful one year volunteering experience in a Christian context. Read the rest…
Vincentian Millennium Partnership Chair’s Introduction:
I am delighted to be writing this introduction to the Vincentian Millennium Partnership’s Annual Report for 2007 to 2.008. …[W]e also have a small but incredibly important group of supporters, both individuals and Trusts, who help us to achieve our goals of promoting Vincentian Spirituality, tackling poverty and ﬁghting injustice. We were very sorry to lose Sr Pauline Gaughan DC from our number during the year. Her sudden death robbed the Vincentian Millennium Volunteers of an excellent Director and the Partnership of a faithful and committed trustee. May she rest in peace. We were delighted to welcome her replacement, Sr Barbara Quilty DC to the Board and also Sr Ellen Flynn, representing the Partnership’s newest member, The Passage. l hope that you will enjoy reading this report and that its contents will inspire you to work even harder for the poor and make the Partnership even stronger and more fruitful by playing your part in its work.
It’s ironic that one of her replacements – Sr. Ellen Flynn DC – so happened to have been the very first person in my young life, to have opened up a world of folk music when she was at St. Louise’s Hostel. She was also a teacher and one of the kindest nuns I’ve ever encountered in my whole life. What a singing voice she had indeed, Sr. Pauline, in comparison, was a very mediocre guitarist/singer. They were also both very good songwriters. I also dabbled at songwriting and nearly got two of my songs published. Sr. Ellen helped me to tidy up the music-score of one complicated one I wrote on a beach when I was a teenager.
…a sad loss
…I first met Sr Pauline during the SVP National Meeting in 1982
where she was one of the speakers. I offered a number of the
Daughters from the Manchester area a lift home. The others
declined because they were going to visit Downside, but
Sr Pauline accepted because she wanted to be in time for the
funeral the next day of “one of her old men” from the Mary &
Joseph home, in George Leigh Street.
I learned so much from her and she put me right, in the most
friendly and constructive way, about details.
…If I ever reach heaven I’ll certainly look for Sr Pauline, Blessed
Rosalie and Blessed Frederic and, at that time none of us will
need a white stick! May she rest in peace.
Dr. Austin Fagin. Issue: 25 Vincentian Concern Winter 2007. Spirituality. H/t: Father Fergus Kelly. CM.
In the e-mail, Susan wanted to know if I was the same person whom she had known in London in the late seventies and early eighties. I haven’t got around to telling her that I am indeed. I remember Susan distinctly and can still see her tall figure and neatly cut short brown hair in my minds eye at the meetings at Cornerstone. I have a lot to catch up on with respect of Sr. Pauline Gaughan, who was a very singleminded person; who saw fit to walk 68 miles in one weekend from Canterbury to London. I know this – because I too walked the same famous Canterbury to London Pilgrims Progress route in aid of Crisis at Christmas. The walk officially was supposed to have been 60 miles, but in essence it was 68… which would have been against the rules over one given weekend. She slept in a sleeping bag on a hard floor in a used church along with the rest of us. We were so proud of our massive well earned round badges that depicted a big 60 that were sown on the sleeves of our dark blue duffel coats in the aftermath of the gruelling walk.
Despite Sr. Pauline having such a gracious demeanour, she was so down to earth and never looked down on poor wretched people. She undoubtedly is very much missed by those of whom she very much cared about, namely, the marginalised and cast-outs of society.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field…” (Matthew 13-14)
“How happy are the pure in heart, they shall see God’
are words from psalms that I recall off-hand that she used in one of her own songs.