Mary Feehan, who died on 3 August after a relatively short battle with cancer, was the best known non-musician in the liturgical music scene in the Archdiocese of Glasgow and beyond. As housekeeper to Mgr. Gerry Fitzpatrick, she was often the first contact for musicians as they arrived at St. Leo’s for meetings or discussions. Her invariable welcoming words – “A cup of tea?” – made everyone feel at ease, and her hospitality and baking were renowned. Her untimely death will leave a big gap.
Mary had been the housekeeper at various parishes in the Archdiocese for over 30 years. She was a perfect example of those church workers who get little recognition but who are essential to the smooth running of parishes. In addition to all the usual housekeeping duties, Mary also handled, without missing a step, the arrival of teachers’ committees, musicians, ecumenical committees – the list goes on and on! – often without prior warning.
Her funeral Mass at St.Leo’s was concelebrated by priests from across the Archdiocese and beyond, and members of the St.Mungo Singers and St. Leo’s Parish choir led the music of the liturgy. Members of Glasgow Churches Together as well as parish and other organisations who had experienced her warm, caring hospitality were among the congregation.
Mgr. Jamie MacNeil gave the homily at the funeral Mass and Mgr. Gerry spoke at the Vigil. He recalled so many instances of Mary’s kindness and charity, particularly to those in need. He had the congregation laughing despite their sadness as he remembered an occasion when a “gentleman of the road”, who had been a regular caller at the parish house and whose serious mental and other problems had been dealt with by Mary gracefully and kindly, turned up at the door in a taxi straight from Barlinnie, wearing a “Haw Jimmie” bunnet and carrying a huge bunch of roses for her.
Mary and her hospitality and kindness, and her cups of tea and her gingerbread will be greatly missed by so many people in the Archdiocese, and we will remember her and her family in our prayers.