Sister Josephine Barron, who has passed away at the age of 96
Sep, 2023
Sister Josephine passes away in 75th year of profession

Sister Josephine Barron FCJ, who spent many years in Middlesbrough as part of the Faithful Companions of Jesus community, passed away in Salford on July 15 aged 96, in the 75th year of her religious profession. Sister Elizabeth Ryan looks back on her life…

Mary Josephine Barron was born in Kilkenny, Ireland on May 16 1927, the eldest daughter of Thomas and Maureen (nee Galvin) Barron.
Maeve, as known in the family, was the second child in a family of eight, with one sister Ann (Sister Mary Gabriel FCJ, Kersal) and six brothers, all of whom predeceased her. 
Primary education and the first five years of secondary school were with the Sisters of Mercy, New Ross, County Wexford, from where, having obtained her matriculation, she had planned to go to university to study pharmacy.
Instead, she accompanied Ann to FCJ convent boarding school Newtownbarry in County Wexford, where she completed her Leaving Certificate in 1945.  
Maeve joined the Society of the Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus on February 2 1946 at Broadstairs, Kent, to be followed five years later by Ann.
As Sister Mary Josephine, she made her first profession in Broadstairs on July 7 1948. She spent the next three years pursuing a Science degree at University College, Dublin, graduating with a BSc in 1951.
She renewed her vows on August 6 that summer in her alma mater, Newtownbarry. She completed her educational training at Sedgley Park FCJ College, Manchester, obtaining her Teacher’s Certificate in 1953. The third year of formation followed at Broadstairs where Sister Josephine made her final profession on July 27 1954. She was now ready to enter the years of her rich, apostolic life.
Her first missioning was back to Ireland, to Laurel Hill, Limerick, where she taught science and was class mistress to the girls in the boarding school. There was delight among them at the arrival of a beautiful young nun.
“Firm but kind” was the verdict, words that have been repeated often by past pupils. At the end of four years, Sister Josephine arrived at the Hollies FCJ Convent School in Manchester in September 1958. 
Her tenure there was short, however, as the next year she was summoned to Gumley House School in Isleworth, West London, where she remained until 1983.
Suddenly, due to the unexpected death of the head, Mother Angela Carrollan, Sister Josephine found herself catapulted from the science lab to the headteacher’s office with no preparation. That she was so successful is a testament to the woman she was.
It was a time of much change and turmoil as this small, successful convent grammar school morphed into a comprehensive school of double the student numbers.
Sister Josephine was determined to give this new school every chance to offer an excellent education. She knew more buildings had to be built and a new curriculum prepared, with the right staff training.
She was a pioneer in introducing computers into school and an advocate for technology to support the curriculum. Sister Josephine’s reputation in Hounslow as a formidable head was widely known.
She had taken Gumley from being a small grammar school of 500-plus students occupying two buildings to a large comprehensive school of 1,000-plus students occupying a campus of six buildings – a wonderful legacy for Catholic education.
The years from 1983 to 1998 saw Sister Josephine become provincial bursar in the British Province, moving to Salford. She brought the same dedication to this office and again ensured good stewardship of the province’s goods and finances.
In 1999 she moved to the North-East, first as school officer at Newlands Convent FCJ in Middlesbrough and from 2002 as a governor of the newly amalgamated Trinity Catholic College. 
Over the years she brought considered opinions and wise counsel to many governing boards.
Sister Moira Cashmore FCJ speaks of how easy Sister Josephine was to live within their onetime community, a relationship that continued when in 2017 they were missioned together to Kersal on the sad departure of the FCJ Sisters from Middlesbrough.
Diminishing sight and hearing ruled out all the daily pleasures the rest of us enjoy – watching television, listening to the radio or music, phone calls and the ability to see and enjoy family photographs.
She did, however, thoroughly enjoy walking in the garden and sitting in the shade on a sunny day.  
She would sit in the sunroom for hours with her thoughts and prayers, always willing to share her knowledge and experience. 
When ill health came, she was so grateful and gracious to our carers. The words complaint or self-pity were not in her vocabulary. 
What enables a brilliant and successful woman to grow old so gracefully? Surely it must be the fruit of a deep spiritual life of prayer and service to her God and people over the 75 years of religious profession as a Faithful Companion of Jesus.
A Requiem Mass was celebrated for Sister Josephine at Kersal Hill Convent before interment at St Joseph’s Cemetery, Moston. May she rest in God’s deep peace.

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