Funeral held of ‘wise and humble’ Sr. Olcan

Sister Olcan (left), Robert Alexander and Sister Catherine, founder members of the Tuesday Group. INLT 52-210-AM
Sister Olcan (left), Robert Alexander and Sister Catherine, founder members of the Tuesday Group. INLT 52-210-AM

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to Sr. Olcan Watt, the “much loved” Sister of the Cross and Passion whose funeral took place on Saturday.

Requiem Mass took place at St. Matthias Church in Belfast before burial in Ballycastle.

Sr. Olcan, who born in 1931 and was originally from Loughguile, was one of the founders of the cross-community Tuesday Group at Drumalis Retreat and Conference Centre in Larne.

She was awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) for services to peace and reconciliation in June 2017.

She attended school at Cross and Passion, Ballycastle, before training as a teacher.

She then joined the CP congregation in Bolton, Lancashire, took her vows in 1959 and was asked to go to Bechuanaland in Botswana to join the Passionist mission.

During decades of “dedicated service” there, she guided a new religious community through its formative years to become established as The Sisters of Calvary.

Two members of the community were among mourners at her funeral, bringing many memories of the contribution that Sr Olcan made to their in country. Her coffin was draped in the flag of Botswana.

On her return in the early 1990s, Sr. Olcan settled in Drumalis and according to Sisters Margaret Rose and Anna, “she put all her energy and interest into the work for peace and reconciliation which was happening in a post-ceasefire era”.

The Sisters said that the Tuesday group had been founded in Drumalis in 1994. in”an effort to bring people together across religious and political divisions, to heal the wounds of violence and bring peace and reconciliation to the town. When Sr. Olcan and Sr. Catherine moved to Drains Bay, they continued this work of building bridges through prayer, outreach and attending services in different churches. In 2017, both were awarded a BEM for their contribution to building peace.

“The presence of clergy and people from all traditions at her funeral was a recognition of the quiet influence of this wise and humble Cross and Passion nun.”

“Her support for the YMCA, the apostolic work and the overseas missions was on going, even after her health declined and she was transferred to the CP community of care in Villa Pacis, Belfast.

“For these final years, her only wish was to come into the presence of the God whom she had served so faithfully throughout her life.

“Sr Olcan made few demands in her life, but she did have a special place in her heart for North Antrim, Loughguile, Ballycastle and her family roots.

“Her final journey, accompanied by close family, the Passionist family, the Botswana Sisters and her many friends, accompanied her to her final resting place in Ballycastle.

“The coffin was draped in the flag of Botswana, the country in which she gave the best years of her life.

“The motto of Botswana is ‘Pula - Let there be rain’. Rain is the greatest gift that God can bestow on any desert country.

“It stands for grace, peace, prosperity, fruitfulness, abundance, friendship and love. Such was the gift that Sr. Olcan was to all those who knew her – a gift of grace, her second name.”

She is survived by her sister Kathleen, nieces and nephews.