Roisin Beirne, CAFOD’s Candlelight Fund Officer, shares a little about two special women who have been honoured by a donation to CAFOD in their memory.
During November, the month of Remembrance, the Church encourages us to come together and reflect on all those who have died yet continue to touch our lives.
As the Candlelight Funds Officer here at CAFOD, I offer support to those who have lost a loved one and are looking for a way to honour them through CAFOD’s work. Some families set up a Candlelight Fund. This is a special fund in memory of a loved one who has died, where all donations in their name are combined to make a life-changing difference to the world’s poorest communities. It truly does celebrate a life while touching the lives of thousands more.
Many have told me how much comfort they gain from knowing that good is being done in their loved one’s name. As a way of saying thank you for the incredible strength and kindness these families show, I’d like to share a little about two women who have been remembered in this way.
Honouring Ophilda D’Souza: “Everyone’s life is their own unique story – Ophilda’s was a best seller.”
Ophilda D’Souza was a strong, caring and intelligent woman. She sadly died on 8 March 2017. It was International Women’s Day. Being both driven and energetic, Ophilda has left a lasting mark on the world.
At such a difficult time, Ophilda’s family were kind enough to think of CAFOD’s work as they held a collection at her funeral in lieu of flowers. Through the collection they raised an incredible £750 in memory of this very special lady. They have since set up a Candlelight Fund to remember her on birthdays and anniversaries, already raising over £1,000.
When her family shared a little about who Ophilda was, it became clear that a Candlelight Fund really is a fitting tribute.
“Like everyone else, we know that life brings tears, smiles and memories,” Ophilda’s daughter, Eryl explained. “The tears dry, the smiles fade but we will cherish the memories that will last forever.”
Ophilda was born in Nairobi, Kenya and educated in India. She graduated from Bombay University with an Honours Degree in Economics in 1949 and moved back to Kenya to teach in her community. In 1955, she married Stanley, and they had the blessing of marking their 60th Diamond Wedding Anniversary with their children Keith, Gwyn and Eryl.
Moving from Kenya to London in the late 60s with three young children was not an easy task. Through it all, Ophilda showed immense strength. She became a rock for her family, leaning heavily on her faith during these times of upheaval.
Ophilda’s strength and kindness can still be felt today. Her family told us that Ophilda was “a woman of action. She was always thinking of ways in which she could work with others to make a positive difference.”
Ophilda lit candles every day, as a reminder to keep people in her prayers. As a teacher she also believed in lighting a flame so that her students could literally be enlightened and discover their God-given potential.
So, for Ophilda, a Candlelight Fund truly is a beautiful way to honour this amazing woman.
Eryl said her mother “did not go without leaving us all with some homework. Now, as she passes the baton to each and every one of us, our challenge is to continue to do the good work she started and to do our best to make this world a better place.”
Honouring Bridget McPhail: “always generous at heart”
Bridget McPhail was a wonderful woman who generously gave to CAFOD over the years. When she passed away her family thought that asking for donations to CAFOD rather than flowers at her funeral would be a fitting way to honour the values she held dear.
Bridget was born in Northumberland into an Irish Catholic family, and her values of hard work and helping others were ingrained from a young age. At 22 years old, she met her beloved husband, Herbert and together they had five children, ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
During World War II she joined the Women’s Land Army meeting a variety of interesting people. Her passions were endless; from higher education and world affairs to knitting and Dad’s Army, she was a woman who wanted to learn about the world.
When her beloved husband and daughter died within 6 years of each other, Bridget found comfort in her family and in her faith.
She cared for her loved ones but also for her brothers and sisters around the world. Bridget was a dedicated supporter of many charities, and often helped at her local Church. Her family told us, Bridget was “always generous at heart”.
There are so many things to think about at such a tough time and it’s humbling to see that despite their grief, these families are able to think of others. So, by holding a collection at a funeral, families like these have ensured that their loved one’s values live on in all those being helped in their memory.
Ophilda and Bridget will always be remembered by us here at CAFOD and we are forever grateful for what their families continue to do in their name.
We are here to offer any support you might need
If you would like to honour someone special by donating in their memory, or would like to join us at a Memorial Mass this November, please contact Roisin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 020 7095 5348. Alternatively, visit the remembrance section of our website.
By Roisin Beirne, Candlelight Funds Officer