Eulogy On CLS Founding President Cecilia Fernandez (1922–2014) By Lancelot Rozario

Dear Friends, We are all here today with a common purpose.

We are here to bid farewell to our sister Cecilia Fernandez, a loving mother and grandmother.

All of us got to know her at some time or the other during the 92 years that she was around.

I for instance came to know her some 15 years ago and was pleasantly surprised when she told me that my late mother and she were in boarding together.

We often met to discuss the many challenges she encountered in the landscape of her life’s journey. She was indeed a very courageous person who endured life’s challenges bravely with patience, dignity and a very sweet smile.

One good example of her courage that comes to my mind is when she was found one day lying down in some public place with a dislocated hip. She was hospitalised and her sister Mavis rushed down from Australia. Cecilia was already in her mid 80’s then and insisted on having a hip joint replacement. We all discouraged her but she insisted and told me that ‘I do not want to be on a wheel chair’. A friend of mine and I kept insisting that she should not go through with the operation and to please us, she promised to think about it.

The following afternoon when I visited her at the hospital she appeared hale and hearty, a mischievous smile on her face and she blurted out ‘I had the operation’. For the following few weeks, she used a walker and then a walking stick as support to get her around. To my surprise, she called me one day wanting to go out to have a meal and she came out walking without any support at all. This was the courageous Cecilia for you.

Cecilia was married and raised 2 children, Noel a lawyer, and Pamela a teacher. They are overseas grieving over her loss and their inability to be present. She lost her husband Terence Robert Fernandez in 1962.

Among her great joys were her 4 grandchildren Maurice, Marcus and Myles who are overseas and of course Francis, now 13, who lived with her. Francis never ceased to amuse her with his curiosity. His upbringing as a good Catholic was her main priority.

Her sister Mavis who tells me that Cecilia was a mother to her when they lost their mother in childhood. She is here today from Australia. Mavis kept watch over her and was always in touch and would rush down to her aid whenever Cecilia needed her.

Cecilia gave up teaching to become a Lawyer. She was blessed with being a founding member of the Catholic Lawyers’ Society and their First President.

Through her efforts, she connected the Society with all the various Ministries of the Church. In this way, the Society grew and became known through the Legal service that it provided to the Church.

She was passionate about connecting with Catholic Lawyers’ Societies around the world to improve functionality of purpose. This passion bore fruit in recent years. The Society has since connected with Catholic Lawyers in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Despite her advanced years, she always made it a point to attend the functions of the Society. She also played an active role in the various Ministries of the church.

All said and done, I found it increasingly difficult but not impossible to keep in touch with Cecilia as the years moved on. I think she was slowly but surely becoming hard of hearing.  Whenever in recent times I telephoned her and would not get a response, she would tell me that the telephone slipped deep down in her hand bag and then smile as if waiting for my approval of her version for not responding. Raising the volume of the ring tone did not help.

I must say that Cecilia had a condition that many of us here especially diabetics would have loved to inherit. She had a sweet tooth, a sweet tooth out of necessity and not out passion for sweet things. Her sugar levels dropped rapidly and she needed to compensate the loss by eating sweets and cakes and drinking sweet drinks that doctors would have advised any of us not to indulge in. No kurang manis for her. It was always tambah gula.  This is the sweet truth about her sweet tooth.

My dear friends, these and a lot more add to the lump in our throats and the heaviness in our hearts when wish our sweet bye and byes to our dear sister Cecilia, and wait till our journey is ended, and we meet again on that beautiful shore. Until then Good Bye Cecilia.

Lancelot Rozario
Dated Mar 3, 2014

[Editor's note: Ceclia Fernandez is a founder member and the first President of The Catholic Lawyers' Society Kuala Lumpur]

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