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The Death and Burial of Sr Margarita Schwind, O.P.

The blog has been rather quiet these past few months. Our summer months tend to be quite busy; however, this year as we're slowly easing out of lockdown as a community, we spent our early summer weeks in our annual 8-day silent retreat, and caring for our beloved Sr Margarita in her last days.

What an incredible blessing and privilege it has been for us to keep vigil by Sr Margarita's bedside, but also, a time for much gratitude and grieving. We give thanks for the outpouring of love and support from so many of our friends and family of our community. Words cannot describe our depth of gratitude.

Below is a piece written by one of our sisters for our newsletter, and below that, you will find the video of Sr Margarita's burial at Lyndhurst cemetery on 13 August 2021.

Margarita Schwind, O.P. (1935-2021)

Those of you who know the sisters primarily through our livestreamed liturgy will not have met Sr Margarita in person or spoken to her, and may not know very much about her life and background.

Sr. Margarita was born in Ludwigshafen in Germany on the 5th March 1935, and began her religious life in 1957 aged 22 as a postulant.

After making Profession in 1959, she was sent to South Africa, where she worked for nine years as a schoolteacher until being posted to Chingford, England, to take up the post of Novice Mistress.

After attending a course on the renewal of the religious life in Rome, she gained permission together with four other Dominican sisters to live a ten-year trial period of more authentic Dominican life. In 1994, this experiment became the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph. Four years later, the community moved to St Dominic's Priory, Sway, where we have lived ever since.

Sr Margarita played a pivotal role in building up the common life and apostolate of the new community, both as Novice Mistress and Prioress. Unfortunately, in September 2003, she suffered a severe stroke. Though doctors predicted that her life expectancy would be shortened by the effects of the stroke, she lived for another 18 years - even managing to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee of Profession.

The last surviving foundress of the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph, Sr Margarita Schwind, died at 6am on Wednesday, August 4th aged 86. It was a peaceful death surrounded by her sisters. The community has been deeply touched by the kind messages of prayer and condolence which so many of you have sent us. We have received literally hundreds of messages and so we apologise that we have not been able to reply to everybody individually! Nevertheless, please be assured that each message is read and appreciated. We have been especially touched by those of you who have shared your memories of Sr Margarita.

Sr Margarita's requiem mass was held in our chapel on 13th August 2021, though closed to the public due to the shielding of our vulnerable members. We were grateful to be joined by hundreds through our daily livestream - this recording can be viewed HERE.

The burial immediately following the requiem mass was opened to the public, but for those that were not able to join us, we have uploaded the video below:

In 2022, there will be a memorial Mass for Sr Margarita which, at the invitation of Bishop Philip Egan, will be held at St John's Cathedral in Portsmouth. All friends of the community are invited. The date is yet to be finalised, but we will notify you of the details of the Mass as soon as we can.

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