This week St. Augustine’s bible study group said “good-bye” to a long-term member and good friend, Fran Donnelly. Fran is heading to Chemainus, British Columbia to take up much anticipated grandmotherly duties to her youngest grandchild, 15-month-old Ian Francis.
In a gathering in our parish’s gardens, Fran reflected on her time in Dundas, a big part of her sixty years of work, family and church life in Ontario. She arrived from England in 1960 to take up a two-year teaching contract at the Strathallan School, a girls’ academy that would merge in 1962 with a boys’ school to become Hillfield-Strathallan. She fell in love with the area and renewed her contract for another four years before leaving teaching to marry and raise a family.
Once her children were of an age where she could return to work, she didn’t go back to teaching, but took a job with the City of Hamilton, serving as a docent at the Hamilton Military Museum on the grounds of Dundurn Castle. Retiring from that, she went on to work at our local Dundas Museum.
Fran spoke about her great love of history. “I have a head full of military history, whatever am I going to do with it all? The Riel Rebellion, the War of 1812!” she exclaimed to some of her well-wishers.
Carol Kerrigan paid tribute to her bible study mate and friend, saying that, “you always pressed us to think critically, in our study of the bible and our discussion of current events, to be careful of believing the media especially when it reported on the Church or the Pope—that they often lacked understanding to report accurately. Always go to the source.”
Fran’s educative impulse seems to be a constant in her personality. What she has learned both by curiosity and by faith will surely be shared on with the new community she is soon to join.
She assured all present that she will be visiting from time to time as she still has a daughter living here. Should anyone find their way to Vancouver Island, she told the group, stop in for tea, because although she has decluttered and downsized her household, “I did pack two cups!”
God bless you, Fran.