Parish Priest pays tribute to ‘faithful’ councillor Sheila

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The Parish Priest of Seapatrick has spoken of the unexpected passing of the late Councillor Sheila McQuaid who was laid to rest last Friday.

Mass was con celebrated at St. Therese Church by Very Rev Canon Liam Stevenson and Very Rev Canon Frank Kearney. Burial followed afterwards in St. Patrick’s Cemetery.

In his homily for the Requiem Mass of Mrs McQuaid who passed away at Craigavon Area Hospital on October 14, Canon Stevenson said: “Her council colleagues are all deeply shocked at her untimely death. Those, with whom she worked, and those, for whom she gave much time and energy, are amazed at the suddenness of her death.

“Her family and close friends are nearly disbelieving at the fast momentum of her illness leading into her unexpected death on Tuesday morning past in Craigavon Area Hospital.”

“Sheila, for the last four years of her life, gave her energy, her enthusiasm and her love to the people of this town and district through her role as an Alliance Councillor.”

He explained that Mrs McQuaid served for one year following the resignation of her husband Frank, won the election in 2011 and was in her fourth year of her own term.

“Sheila’s five children loved her; they learned much from her; they knew the leadership qualities of their mother; they knew her self-determination to battle three occurrences of cancer, the first one in 2003 and two knee operations; they knew her selfless caring for Frank, her husband, their father, as his health deteriorated further about eight years ago; they were proud of her cross-community work and they enjoyed many times her entertaining and welcoming work as the “bean an tí” in Lisnaree,” he commented.

Canon Stevenson told the congregation that Sheila was born into the Doyle family, one of seven children, to parents Jim and Patricia Doyle.

“Initially, she worked as an au pair in Spain and worked as a secretary in London. Frank and she met at her sister Anne’s wedding. They married in the Sacred Heart Church in Donnybrook, Dublin in 1974. Sheila came north, settled in Lisnaree and reared with Frank a family of five.”

“It’s hard for all of us gathered together today to accept the fact that the time has come for Sheila to depart this life at the relatively young age of 62. However, we bow our heads in the presence of God, understanding that in our knowledge of the eternity of God what is a day or a thousand years.

“Sheila wanted to hold on to the gift of life; she wanted to share many more happy occasions with her family; she had many more projects to accomplish in her last few months on the Council,” he added.

Canon Stevenson said that Sheila’s greatest attribute perhaps was that she ran the race to the finish and very importantly she kept the faith.

He commented: “Sheila was a faithful parishioner at Mass each Sunday. She taught the faith to her family and brought the children to Mass each Sunday. In recent years, she ensured that Frank was able to come to Mass.

“She gave her time and talents to our choir and we acknowledge her fellow choir members singing at her funeral Mass.

“Her Christian faith, inherited from her parents and interiorised by herself during her life, was a bedrock and guiding star for all her relationships with family, friends and the wider community of our town of Banbridge.”

Canon Stevenson explained that Sheila had the great ability to take on extra work and challenges. He said: “As a mature student, she obtained a Social Science Degree from Queen’s University, Belfast.

He said that a huge emphasis in Sheila’s life was her passion for cross community work.

“She worked in the Bannside Community Centre in Portadown. She also worked with the Flax Trust with Sister Mary Turley.

“She and Frank with others helped found the Bridge Integrated Primary School. “Sheila always displayed a tremendous sense of character in being able to juggle her concern for her family, her personal health problems, her cross community projects and in the last eight years to be Frank, her husband’s key and primary carer,”