Sr Assumpta pictured in 2012
Sr Assumpta Power was a force of nature, brimming with enthusiasm for every challenge and few could match her energy or passion.
“She loved that school (Ardscoil Rath Iomgháin). She never had a bad word to say about any of the students and if you pointed out something about one of them, she would always have an excuse, a reason why they acted the way they did,” said Fr Gerard O’Byrne, as he spoke at Sr Assumpta’s funeral last Thursday,
A former teacher at the school for many years, Fr O’Byrne described her as a woman of “extraordinary faith” with a great love of nature.
A large crowd gathered at the Church of Assumption in Rathangan to pay their respects to the 91-year-old nun, who had been a resident at Catherine McAuley Nursing Home for the last number of years of her life.
Originally from near Mullingar, she came to Rathangan when she was just 23-years-old and spent 68 years there prior to her illness.
Sr Thomasina from the Sisters of Mercy Order told the congregation that there wasn’t a dry eye at the nursing home as everyone said farewell to her as she was brought back to Kildare following her death.
She said the late nun was hugely popular and well liked.
A large number of Sr Assumpta’s family members attended the funeral mass. She is survived by her sisters, Sr Rosanne and Nano Murphy, her brothers, John, Frank, Michael, nieces, nephews and their families.
She will also be hugely missed by her fellow Rathangan Sisters of Mercy, Sr Rosari, Sr Bernadette, Sr Carmel and Sr Brigid.
Fr O’Byrne talked about the legacy of education Sr Assumpta and the Sisters of Mercy have left in Rathangan.
He spoke about how the town was very sad to see the Sisters leave the community last year. Sr Oliver passed away last June. The Mercy Sisters were hugely respected in the Rathangan community.
The remaining nuns left the town at the end of August 2018, ending a 142-year historic relationship between the order and the area.
Fr O'Byrne talked about Sr Assumpta’s work for the Tidy Towns and how she gave elocution lessons.
He recounted how one past pupil told him at this time of year she would always have taught the students William Wordsworth’s poem Daffodils, complete with actions. Fr O’Bryne said he wouldn’t do a demonstration as it wouldn’t have done her justice.
In fact, half of Rathangan probably could name the three different types of rocks in Ireland without blinking because of her unique teaching methods.
She made them into a song which the class had to recite and recite with vigour.
“Rocks, rocks, rocks, igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic... ” could be heard bellowing from the classroom window — the louder the better.
A poem from The Hobbit was also another favourite because it was full of drama and action.
Over the past few days, another past pupil recalled how Sr Assumpta started off basketball in the secondary school and when she took charge of the team, she was only learning how to dribble the ball herself.
That didn’t daunt her. She had a plan — the fast break strategy, and it worked. The girls won the league in their first year and became a well-known entity on the circuit — known as the team with the nun for a coach.
Sr Assumpta also volunteered at Rathangan Credit Union. She could often be seen behind a desk at the old Credit Union building totting up the figures.
Local councillor, Mark Stafford posted a heartfelt message on Facebook — “As we say goodbye today to Sr Assumpta for the last time we remember how in her gentle way she inspired and encouraged so many young people and deeply enriched our community in Rathangan.”
Ardscoil Rath Iomgháin students and teachers provided a guard of honour for Sr Assumpta as she made her way to her final resting place at the nun’s cemetery.
— Niamh O'Donoghue