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Thousands farewell Irene Gleeson at her funeral


“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Matthew 25:21

In 1991, concerned at the plight of African children, Irene Gleeson sold her Sydney beachside home & waved a teary goodbye to her four children and grandchildren (now numbering 15). Irene towed a caravan to the war zone of Kitgum in Northern Uganda & gathered 50 traumatised children under a tree to teach them songs and feed them.

Irene Gleeson

With a lot of joy, laughter and great sadness, 900 family and friends gathered yesterday to celebrate the wondrous life and legacy of Mama Irene Gleeson (30 Dec 1944 – 21 July 2013) and to bid her a teary goodbye.

The funeral service was held at C3 Church Oxford Falls in Sydney, presided by Ps Phil Pringle. Her four children Greg, Shelly, Maree and Heidi shared their memories with stories and a slideshow of the life of their Mum.

John Paul Kiffasi the program coordinator in Uganda for Irene’s Foundation and told us that late last week 14,000 had gathered in Kitgum from around Uganda for Irene’s memorial service. Her legacy will continue through the 450 staff running her four schools for 8,000 children bringing them food, education, clean running water and medicine. Irene’s legacy also leaves an Aids clinic, vocational training centre to 1,500 youth and radio station. The Foundation is also working to build a Women’s Hospital in Uganda.

Pastor Phil brought a message from Matt 19:29: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.”  In Irene Gleeson’s life we saw this verse lived out through her life.

Bible Society supporters, through a former project of Bible Society NSW, raised $55,000 to send 8,000 Bibles to the children, helping them know that God loved them and was in control of their lives. “Sharing God’s Word was very important to Irene; she was always quoting Scripture when she spoke to people,” says the Bible Society’s Chris Melville who liaised with Irene on the project.

Irene’s family would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to family and friends who have shown their support and love over the last 14 months.

She will be missed by all. “Let’s redress the imbalance, and rescue African orphans”:  Irene Gleeson, Lioness of Africa.

Watch the SBS World News Australia video report from Irene’s funeral: