Faith, Charity and Hope that was Eileen Mary O’Meara.
Born Eileen Mary O’Donohue at Leigh Creek on the 13th August 1939, Eileen passed away peacefully at St. John of God Hospital Ballarat on the 29th August 2019. Eileen was an institution within the Parish of St Alipius, and an individual who lived her life by the motto “I will do it my way.”
Eileen was a beloved friend and supporter to many, but to her family she was a mother and grandmother who had an endless supply of sweet cakes, lollies, chocolates and tim tams and was the definition of what it meant to show unconditional love.
So how did this girl from Leigh Creek become a committed carer for her Church, she turned detention into devotion. Kept back at school at St Michaels Bungaree for misbehaving, Sr. Brigit sent her to help Father Nolan with work that needed to be done around the Church. Whilst she may not have been in trouble each week, the time spent helping out after school was the beginning of a life time devotion to her church and the members of its congregation. So how did the move from St Michaels to St Alipius come about? According to Eileen it was fate that she ended up living walking distance from a Church and it was her calling to serve those who attended her Church. After getting permission from Father Nolan from Bungaree to transfer to St Alipius she accepted an invitation from Mrs Mae Armstrong to help out at the Church. For the next 57 years she worked faithfully to attend to the needs of others.
In Addition to Sunday services, there was a hectic schedule of funerals, meetings, the bereavement group, communion rounds, cooking for the St Alipius Caring Group, Stations of the Cross every Good Friday, social Bingo afternoons held at the Convent of Mercy, weekly Mass at St Francis Church in the Melbourne CBD, two AFL games per weekend and attending 15 consecutive Melbourne Cup Masses. Despite her hectic schedule Eileen always found time for her family, she took pleasure in attending all of the family events and cooking her signature dishes for the celebrations of all family members.
Her Faith represented a beautiful union between Church and the Community. No doubt her faith has inspired many to answer the call to devote themselves to their Church and the members of their congregation. St. Thomas Aquinas considers charity as the “mother of all the virtues.” As a young mother in the St. Alipius Community, Eileen quickly built a reputation for loving goodness and loving others. She sincerely believed we were all good creatures of God who deserved to be loved and to be happy. Those who knew Eileen would recall many a time of hearing that unforgettable laugh or seeing that magical smile appearing from under her famous blue sun hat that accompanied her wherever she went.
Asked by her family nearing the time of her death what was the secret of her endless Charity, Eileen immediately laughed out loud and said, “Make it fun, do everything with a good heart, don’t expect anything in return, and most of all don’t make it about yourself.” If you do this you will never be disappointed. When asked about what message of Hope she would like to share with her family and friends after she has gone, Eileen responded – “Celebrate with me the next step of my journey with a smile on your face and a sense of happiness in your heart.”
Eileen is survived by her much loved husband Jim and children Michael, James, Mary (dec) and Angela (dec).
Eileen Mary O’Meara is buried at the Ballarat New Cemetery, Roman Catholic B, Row 10 Grave 61