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19 Aug 2022

Former Kildare soldier and guardian of St Thérèse of Lisieux passes away

Former Kildare soldier and guardian of St Thérèse of Lisieux passes away

Pic: The late Patrick 'Pat' Sweeney, RIP.ie

A former member of the Permanent Defence Forces (PDF) who later became a guardian over the relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, France, has passed away.

Patrick "Pat" Sweeney, manager of St Thérèse’s National Office Ireland and formerly of Dara Park, Kildare Town, passed away peacefully at Tallaght Hospital on Tuesday, January 18, surrounded by his loving family.

According to The Irish Catholic newspaper, in the late 1980s, Pat and his family travelled to France for their daughter, who wanted to improve her French.

They spent three weeks going around the country, including a fateful visit to Lisieux, the home of St Thérèse Martin, also known as "the Little Flower".

From that fateful moment on, Mr Sweeney’s life was to revolve around the "Little Flower" (OR "La petite Thérèse" in French): shortly after, Pat and his family undertook annual pilgrimages to Lisieux, and in 2001, Pat was designated as the main driver for the visit of St Thérèse’s relics to Ireland, when 3.7 million people witnessed their travel across the country.

Then, in 2015, he travelled to Rome to witness the canonisation of St Thérèse's parents.

A former sergeant in the PDF, he told the newspaper that St Thérèse's mythical appearances to soldiers in the First World War struck a chord with him.

He even claimed to have witnessed a miracle by a member of the Martin family.

Pat Sweeney is survived by his loving wife Mary, daughters Teresa, Cyndi, Marcie, Lizzie and Jean, sons-in-law, his nine grandchildren, brothers and sisters, brothers and sisters in law, nephews, nieces, relatives, neighbours and friends.

His funeral will be held on Thursday, January 20 to arrive at The Carmelite Church, Kildare Town, for Requiem Mass at 11am. Burial afterwards in St. Conleth's Cemetery, Kildare Town.

Staff at the Whitefriar St Church & Carmelite Community Centre were among those who paid tribute to Pat Sweeney on RIP.ie.

They said: "To Pat's wife Mary, his daughters and extended family, on behalf of all the staff within the church and the Carmelite Community centre we would like to express our condolences to you on the death of Pat RIP."

"We will miss his weekly visits to the St Therese office within the centre and the Mass Office within the church: we are shocked and saddened at his sudden passing.

"May the light of heaven shine upon him."

Pat's Funeral Mass can be viewed on the following link: https://churchcamlive.ie/carmelite-friary-church-kildare/

A brief history of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

As outlined by the Society of the Little Flower, Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin was a Catholic Carmelite nun who was born in 1873 in the Normandy region of France.

After enduring multiple hardships in her early life, at age 15, she decided to become a nun along with two of her sisters at the Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy.

Unfortunately, St Thérèse contracted Tuberculosis, which ultimately ended up killing her in 1897: she was 24 years old.

According to the website Sanctuaire de Lisieux, in March of 1923, before St Thérèse was beatified, her body was returned to the Carmel of Lisieux, where it remains to this day.

The figure of Therese in the glass coffin is not her actual body, but in fact a statue modelled after her likeness: however, the coffin contains her ribcage and other remnants of her body.

Her feast day in the General Roman Calendar was listed as October 3 from 1927, until it was moved in 1969 to October 1.

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