by  Gerry  Latimer


Overwhelmed” responded Sr. Perla Garanganao, SMR, when invited by Fr. Anthony Donaghue  to say how she felt at the close of the St. Oswin Deanery Mass of Thanksgiving for her 13 years of service as a Catholic Chaplain to North Tyneside General Hospital.

The Mass was concelebrated by seven priests including Sr. Perla’s successor at north Tyneside & Wansbeck General Hospitals. Fr. David Nixon, a missionary of the Sacred Heart, took place at Immaculate Heart  of Mary  Church,  West Monkseaton, part of the new parish of Our Lady Star of the Sea.

The date of the Mass was significant, as the feast of St.Charles Lwanga & Companions helped her to also mark her 12 years of service with the Sisters of Marie Reparatrice in East Africa. (see note below)

The parish welcomed former patients, families of patients, many members of the Nursing and Managerial  staff of the NHS Trust of the hospital, & the Filipino community. The welcome was also extended to her fellow Chaplains and her support team who continue to serve with Fr. Nixon.

Although to his great regret Bishop Seamus could not be present, Fr. Donaghue read a letter from him in which he remembered working with Sr. Perla for 9 years during his term as parish priest  of Our Lady & St. Oswin in Tynemouth. He praised her indefatigable and sensitive efforts to offer help and comfort to patients and their families  when at their most vulnerable.

Before being invited to speak before the close of the Mass, Sr. Perla was visibly moved and surprised when Fr. Peter Stott, on behalf of the Deanery asked her to accept their respect and appreciation for her ministry in the form of an unexpected gift – a return ticket to the Philippines to visit her family.  In her response, Sr Perla pointed out that although her ministry had been praised, it would not have been possible without the support of priests prepared to be on call 24 hours a day to support patients, their families and also hospital staff.

She thanked her fellow chaplains and those volunteers who had worked with her, in some case for many years.  Particularly, she thanked the medical staff at North Tyneside who sensitively allowed her to comfort patients while continuing to carry on their own professional duties.  Her final praise was for the special ministers who served with her at the hospital, describing them as the backbone of her ministry.

Closing her comments, she added that she would never wholly retire, but would continue her ministry in prayer and meditation.  Where she would continue to remember all those she now counted as friends, who had allowed her to touch so many lives.

Subsequent to a massacre of Catholic and Anglican missionaries in Buganda (present Uganda) in 1885.  St Charles L Wanga was martyred on June 3, 1886, with 12 other Catholic men and boys and nine Anglicans when they refused King Mwanga’s demand that they renounce their Christianity.