The passing away of Josephine Jones earlier this month came after a serious illness spanning about six-and-a-half years, an illness Josephine bore with Christian fortitude and exemplary braveness.
I first met Jo, as she was affectionately known, in 2016, when I was still a seminarian and had just begun my new assignment at Stella Maris parish in Sliema. She had already been doing voluntary work at the parish office for about 20 years, working closely with the parish clergy and succeeding two other Josephines: Mangion and Cuschieri, both already enjoying their eternal reward.
For three-and-a-half years, Jo and I shared the same office, thus spending several hours working together daily. Not only did we share the same modest working space, but I often found myself discussing important matters with her, to which she always found the right words of advice.
A dedicated wife to David, who preceded her in death eight months ago, a loving mother to Cheryl and Steven, a beloved grandmother and a dear friend, Jo was above all a true Christian and a humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. She never sought prominence, although she was well known to one and all at the parish.
She always played the second fiddle, and her valuable work often went unnoticed and, at times, unappreciated. But I am indebted to her for being a ‘mentor’ at the crucial time of the early years of my priestly ministry.
She was to me a great teacher of Christian virtues, not “with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3, 18b), teaching me the great virtues of prudence, patience and humility.
Jo knew the parish inside out and was always there to attend to the parishioners’ needs. She pursued her work even during her illness, ‘remotely’ from home.
When I left the parish in 2020, Jo and I kept in regular contact. A week before she passed away, she could sense that her departure was imminent, and she confessed to me: “I am ready to go.”
Jo was laid to rest on the 11th day of the 11th month. Her funeral coincided with what would have been her husband’s 80th birthday.
It also coincided with the commemoration of the fallen. As the world was remembering the courage and sacrifice of those who served their country during times of war, we bade farewell to yet another ‘unsung hero’ who carried her cross fearlessly and dedicated her life to the service of others. Indeed, we shall never forget Jo. We will remember her.