Angel of the Street Ascends

Although it’s over a month, it seems more recent that our friend and colleague Christine O’Donnell passed from this world. Chris quietly arrived into our world in the Dublin North, North East Recovery College at our summer festival in 2017. Although quietly arriving and quietly spoken then [unusual], she was one of the opening singers. After a brief intro on the experiences of homelessness, she proceeded to sing her self penned song ‘Liberty’ inspired by her own experiences of homelessness, bringing the emotion of those experiences into a reality for festival participants.

Chris had arrived and thereafter was intricately involved with the Recovery College: as course facilitator; as course participant; as project advisor; as peer educator; as inspiration; as friend and colleague. 

Perhaps first and foremost Chris was, as the title suggests an Angel of the Streets. Working with Safetynet Primary Care as a Peer Support worker her space of work was in the streets and cafes of Dublin, where she supported people who were homeless and on the margins of society. If people here were her first priority, she then proceeded to create all sorts of possibilities for them, through her networks and nose for human capacity building. Through her interventions, the Recovery College has been enriched by a whole new cohort of participants, some of whom might argue they were dragged kicking and screaming by Chris to a course ‘cause she knew that once I got there I would enjoy it’.

 

Her passion for human flourishing oozed out of every pore of Chris’s being; in her songs, her cackle of a laugh, her natural compassion, her risk taking, her creative pursuits to enable increased capacity for the disadvantaged and her constant philosophising about the potential of human beings. Video of Chris.

Chris had her own demons and challenges and yet always put others first. She was evangelical in her quest to help others, to make plans for positive futures, to be involved in the movement of human salvation. Always on, her energy on full tilt, as long as she could, night or day, as if she knew her time on this earth was limited and she needed to get as much done as possible. Well you did good, you did well, your time was so well spent and countless people are indebted to you Chris. Forgive the theology quote below, though in your many critical discussions and indeed your everyday interactions there was a strong sense of moral goodness and vocation emanating from you. One of your friends here felt this seemed to embody how you were, though in a Chris way rather than a Quaker way.

I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or kindness that I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.     Etienne de Grellett (1773-1855, Quaker Missionary)

 

One of the ongoing Recovery College projects that Chris was actively involved with was our Connect Create Participate programme, here in Dublin and of course across Europe with our partners in Finland, Scotland and France. I so enjoyed our working travels to these places, your good company, the crack and as a seasoned traveller your often spontaneous speaking in tongues to strangers on the street, or as we came to know in one of the many languages you picked up over your adventurous life.

 

Right up to the day she passed, Chris was still at the helm and co-ordinating the development of a homeless service specific ‘Connect Create, Participate’ programme’. We were on a promise and in honour of Chris, in association with Safetynet Primary Care and the Recovery Academy Ireland we will deliver this programme in Dublin over the next few months. And I know the echoes of her essence will be felt throughout that journey. We cannot take you back, though your memory will live on. 

You have ascended to that place where Angels fly,

Your light still shines on the streets of Dublin,

We hear your sound, the sound of hope, 

We miss you, thank you for the time you spent with us,

And wish you well on your cosmic journey……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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