A 107-year-old great-great-grandmother has used the pandemic to tour churches around the world from the comfort of her home in Co. Meath.
Nancy Stewart, affectionately known as ‘Granny Nancy’, has chalked up online Mass in all 32 counties of Ireland during the Covid-19 pandemic and has now embarked on a new virtual spiritual journey – attending online Mass across the globe.
Ms Stewart, the oldest person in Ireland still living in their own home, has been shielding in Clonard with her granddaughter Louise Coghlan, 37, since last March.
The pair have been kept busy drinking plenty of Barry’s Tea, baking and video-calling friends as well as attending Mass. They have shared their adventures through their Facebook page, Living and Laughing with Lou, as they attend online Masses throughout the country.
Granny Nancy has now become something of a celebrity, with her Facebook page boasting thousands of followers.
Her story has also led to online Mass invitations from a host of churches, including Old St Pat’s in Chicago; St Barnabas’ Church in the Bronx, New York; the Irish Pontifical College in Rome; and St Anthony’s Church in London.
“We always planned to complete the nationwide 32 county virtual tour by January and then go international from St Bridget’s day,” Ms Coghlan said.
Born on 16th October 1913, Granny Nancy has had an eventful life, witnessing two world wars and two pandemics, having been an infant during the 1918 Spanish ‘flu outbreak.
She has 84 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, three daughters, Kathleen, Mary and Olive, and one son, Finian.
Her husband, Bob, died in a car crash in 1989 and she lost her twin daughters Margaret in 2007 to motor neurone disease and Anne in 2010.
“I have a great faith and it has helped me keep positive throughout the struggles I’ve met,” said Granny Nancy. “I thank you for keeping your faith and for keeping your resilience strong, through this hard time.”
For those who may be feeling low during this challenging time, Ms Stewart suggested phoning a relative or a friend, or even going for a walk.
“I also ask God to help me if I’m feeling low,” she said. “This is a hard time for everyone but please make sure you keep yourself well and wear your mask. If you keep healthy, your mind will stay healthy too.
“Keep talking to one another,” she said. “All my life I have always believed in chatting and drinking tea and saying a prayer or the Rosary and it has got me through. This is our moment to keep our faith and to keep believing that everything will turn out okay.”
Granny Nancy also called on people to make sure their neighbours are looked after. “Try to make sure we leave nobody behind and we don’t lose sight of each other,” she said.
“This is a moment for humanity to step forward to take care of the other. We must mind ourselves but we must also mind all those around us. Look up and smile even if you have your mask on.”
Picture: Louise and Granny Nancy. (Living and Laughing with Lou/Facebook).