23 Nov HOLY SOULS – Day 22
Sr Carmel of the Child Jesus (Kathleen Furlong) and her twin sister, Anne, were born in Cricklewood, London, on March 8th 1972, of Irish parents. Another sister, Georgina, completed the family a few years later. The twins were identical redheads who shared a gift for music. On leaving school, Kathleen worked at St Joseph’s Hospice, Hackney, and always considered it a privilege to have cared for the dying. She entered this Carmel in 1997 when she was 25 years old. She was a generous, enthusiastic and good-natured postulant, applying herself willingly to whatever was asked of her. Gardening was a new and fascinating experience for someone who had grown up in London with very little experience of the wonders of nature.
About a year after Sr Carmel entered, her health began to give cause for concern, although the doctors always diagnosed some quite ordinary ailment and treatment seemed to be effective. As more persistent symptoms developed she was referred to Hammersmith Hospital for further investigation. She attended the clinic on September 8th and the doctor who examined her was reassuring but arranged some routine tests. One of the blood tests showed an abnormal result and sister was recalled to hospital and admitted on Sept. 10th. Next day it was explained to her that she had quite widespread cancer. At first, she was understandably upset and frightened and she desperately wanted to live, but quite soon she reached a calm and positive attitude that never really left her again. She was resolved to fight her illness. “But if I’m not able to fight it”, she said to her Prioress, “will you help me to die”. She had an extremely rare form of cancer of the liver and the consultant explained that they could not hope to cure her but would be working for a remission. The disease advanced rapidly, however, and although she was to have come home to continue chemotherapy as an outpatient, she became too ill for that to be possible. She had always said, however, that she wanted to make her Profession before she died and to die in Carmel. Her twin sister, Anne, was present at her bedside to witness her vows, although by that time they had to be pronounced in her name. That same evening we brought her home and God took her gently to Himself the following day, after just eighteen months in Carmel.