Former nun killed in crash spent her life caring for others, mourners told
A former nun who died in a road collision on the Glenshane Pass will forever be remembered for her "dedication and commitment to children", mourners at her funeral were told.
Hundreds of people packed the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Londonderry to join Loreto Douglas's brother John in paying their last respects before she was taken to her final resting place in Ardmore Cemetery.
Ms Douglas (64), who worked with the children's organisation Lifestart, died in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital from injuries she suffered in a three-vehicle collision last Wednesday.
Fr Colum Clerkin, celebrating Requiem Mass, told the congregation that her sudden and untimely death was a reminder that "you do not know the day, nor the hour".
Fr Clerkin said Ms Douglas was a trained nurse and a former nun with the Sisters of Mercy who spent her life caring for others and whose death had left many shocked and saddened.
He added: "Loreto's death has been met not just with shock but with disbelief here in our own parish, but also by her friends and colleagues at Lifestart, and most of all by her brother John, his wife Teresa and her wide number of cousins to whom she was so close. We try and see Loreto's sudden and tragic death through the eyes of faith, but this doesn't take away the sadness and grief that we feel and the pain of separation and loss that death brings to those who are left.
"Loreto's life was tragically and without warning cut short on the Glenshane Pass as she travelled to a funeral in Belfast. Loreto's colleagues in Lifestart and Sure Start regarded her as a dedicated child care worker who had a vocation for early years support here in Derry city and as someone who made a significant contribution in a personal way to this crucial project, caring for young children, their parents and their families. In her leadership role, Loreto was an example and an inspiration to the staff with her warmth, compassion and kindness and commitment, and above all her total dedication to the wider project of early years support in Derry, for which she will now be long remembered."
Ms Douglas left the religious life to work for Lifestart, an organisation that supports and helps parents with children under the age of five.
She lived alone in the Culmore area of Derry, where neighbours were shocked and saddened by the tragedy. Following her death, the Lifestart Foundation in the city described the loss of their "dearest friend and colleague".
Their message added: "Loreto has been with Lifestart since the very beginning and she will be sorely missed by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her. Loreto, good night and rest peacefully, your loving Lifestart family xx."
PSNI Inspector Ian Armour appealed for anyone who was travelling on the Glenshane Pass on Wednesday morning and who may have witnessed the collision to come forward and help with its enquiries.