The following obituary was prepared on behalf of the Local Spiritual Assembly after Joan’s passing in August 2018.
Minnie Josephine (known to her friends as Joan) Catterson was born in Londonderry in 1932. Her early life had some extremes of the ups-and-downs most people experience. She married her teenage sweetheart Victor and they had many happy years together, but her daughter, her only child, developed serious disabilities following an early illness, while Joan herself was to face lifelong serious health issues which grew worse as the years passed. Despite these she took a positive approach to life, caring for Vivian at home, working, and involving herself in community activities.
Joan became a Bahá’í in 1980. She was a much-loved member of the Derry Bahá’í community and a truly devoted member of the Faith and community and perhaps the high spot in her life after that was her Bahá’í pilgrimage in 1986. She served on the Spiritual Assembly for many years until her health issues made this impossible, and she was always willing to tell people about her faith.
Nor did she serve only by words and deeds, she suffered for her faith. She declared and enrolled in the Faith during the dark years of the Northern Ireland “Troubles”, and living as she did in an area where many people held strong, sometimes extreme, political and religious views, she was subjected to disrespect and some hostile actions by people in her neighbourhood. While these died away and most people came to respect her steadfastness and lack of prejudice, they were never completely absent even after many years.
Such was Joan’s example, steadfastness, devotion that her dear husband Victor, and her sister and brother-in-law, all now passed away, became Bahá’ís as did her only child, her daughter Vivian.
She was active in wider community service for as long as her health permitted, being a long-time member of St. John Ambulance organisation. Not only did she drive an ambulance but her photo album which came to light after her passing shows pictures of Joan abseiling down rocks in a mountain rescue exercise.
Joan passed away on 25 August 2018, after a long and gradually-worsening illness. She had many times expressed her wish to be reunited with her deceased husband Victor as well as to attain the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to Whom she was devoted. What is an occasion of deep sadness for her many friends here is one of supreme joy for her.
‘O My servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you…..’