Sr Eileen and the Sisters are sad to announce that Sr Mary Placid died peacefully on the morning of Monday 2nd May with the Sisters and staff at her bedside.
Sr Placid Requiem Mass took place on May 5, a beautiful sunny day.
Ten priests concelebrated Mass with Fr Bede from the Benedictines at Ampleforth acting as chief celebrant. He spoke beautifully in his moving homily about Sr Placid as ‘a true Benedictine’ and offered his profound reflections on our intimacy with Christ and hope of Resurrection.
Family members attended, including Sr Placid’s sister Gerry and brother-in-law Bill and her sister Jo.
Sister Mary Stephen, from Minster Abbey in Kent, supported Sr Lawrence and they represented Sr Placid’s former community, with the prayers of intercession being composed by Sr Mary Lucy another former member of the community at Princethorpe. Sister Placid had chosen the liturgy herself. We began with ‘Love Divine, all loves excelling’. At the offertory we sang; ‘Let all mortal flesh keep silence’.
Sister Placid's own autobiographical sketch was read out:
"Sr Mary Placid (Phyllis May Hunt) was born on 15th August 1928, the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption, in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. ‘Leafy Leamington’ was, and maybe still is, arguably the most beautiful town in England, with its wide, tree-lined avenues, its Regency houses, its parks and gardens, and the River Leam flowing serenely through the town on its way to the River Avon. Phyllis’ first school was a small C of E school in Holly Walk, a road lined, not with holly trees, but with mature limes. In 1939 she won a scholarship to the Leamington Girls’ College in Beauchamp Avenue, and on leaving there worked in the public library, adjacent to the Art Gallery, which she visited almost daily.
At the age of 18 Phyllis became a Catholic and three years later, in 1949, entered the Benedictine monastery of Princethorpe, near Rugby in Warwickshire, She took the name Sr Mary Placid, and made her final profession in 1954. In 1966, the Community, having closed their boarding school, moved to a smaller property at Fernham, near Farringdon in Oxfordshire. From 1949 onwards, first at Princethorpe, then at Fernham, Sr Placid worked in the sacristy and also as chantress, continuing in these offices until the Community reluctantly decided to close Fernham Priory and disband. All the Sisters found new religious families; Sr Mary Placid and Sr Mary Lawrence were invited by the Augustinian Canonesses at Boarbank Hall, near Grange-over-Sands, to make their home with them. Both Sisters were warmly welcomed and deeply appreciated the love and care they received during that traumatic time.
During her years at Boarbank, Sr Placid was a chantress, and also, with Sr Mary Lawrence, looked after the sacristy. She thought herself very blessed to have worked for so many years as sacristan and chantress, and to have lived always surrounded by beauty, first in Leamington, then at Princethorpe, at Fernham and finally at Boarbank."
At the end Sr Mary Stephen read a moving family tribute to Sr Placid which expressed appreciation for her life of love based on Corinthians 13; ‘Love is patient, love is kind’.
We concluded with; ‘Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side’. This recalled Sister’s tranquil approach to life and trust in Christ.
The Sisters at Boarbank would add their great gratitude for the gift of the two Benedictine Sisters in the midst of their Community as full members of it, and especially for their prayerful and discreet presence in the Community, sacristy and chapel. Sr Placid’s love of beauty expressed itself in great artistic gifts, in music, gardening and illustrations - she even turned poached egg on toast into a work of art, with the help of a bottle of ketchup! The photos here illustrate some of her illuminations and paintings, and the area of the garden which she developed so lovingly. Together, Srs Placid and Lawrence faithfully tended this garden at the back of the chapel consisting of circular flower beds around a central lawn which over the years has given great pleasure to the sisters.
When she had to move into the Nursing Home, her sweet and gentle presence endeared her greatly to the Nursing Staff, and we are especially grateful for the loving care they gave her as her illness progressed.
She is buried in the Sisters cemetery at Boarbank. May she rest in peace