Sr. Peggy Collins, Fr. Foley, Sr. Patricia reading her vows and Sr. Patricia O'Meara
On the feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord Patricia Dunne professed her first vows as a Sister of Mercy in St. Leo’s Convent chapel in Carlow. We all warmly congratulate Patricia and welcome her to our Congregation.
Peggy Collins welcomed the gathering of Patricia’s family, sisters from the communities where she has lived in Pinewood Avenue, Booterstown, Leighlinbridge and from her native Rathangan as well, of course, as the host community at St. Leo’s. And a special welcome was reserved for Phyllis Moynihan, Kathleen Delaney and Patricia O’Meara who accompanied Patricia at various stages and times on her road to profession.
Peggy noted the awe of the occasion as Patricia, in following Christ in her chosen way, was actually walking in the hallowed footsteps of Catherine McAuley in Carlow. Fr. Declan Foley was the celebrant of the Eucharist during which Patricia made her vows and signed the document recording this, together with Peggy, Kathleen Delaney (who had walked the road of her deepening year with her), and Fr. Foley.
The organ was played by Sr. Anthony McCabe and the singing was led by Catherine O’Hare which lifted our hearts and spirits even higher on this very special day and feast.
In congratulating and offering encouraging words to Patricia and all present Peggy reminded us of St. Paul’s exhortation to use only helpful words in speaking, words that build up rather than drag down. She quoted lines from Joyce Rupp suitable to the feast which we quote here as inspiration for all of us:
(Matthew 2: 1-12)
they listened deep inside,
they pondered the silent music
a journey without precedent,
they went lovingly, eagerly,
|they paused to inquire, to study,
they went on in faith, patiently,
following with the hearts’ eye,
and “the sight of the star
filled them with delight.”
a journey not in vain,
they found the long-sought One,
After the ceremony we celebrated by dining in St. Leo’s and sharing the joy of Patricia, her family and the Province. We wish her joy and happiness and fulfilment in the future.
Sr. Coirle McCarthy, Congregational Leader and Sr. Marion Ryan
The Church of the Assumption, Booterstown, County Dublin, was the setting for the final profession of Marion Ryan on Saturday, September 18th . Marion, who comes from Tipperary, has been with the Mercy South Central Province since 2003. She works in chaplaincy in Holles Street Hospital and is a member of the Booterstown community. For this very special occasion she was joined by her parents Johnny and Mary, her brother John, her sister Claire and their families, her relatives, friends and her Mercy sisters. It was a notable occasion too for Booterstown parish and many parishioners came to be part of the ceremony and to support Marion. The Contemporary Music Group which sings at Mass here together with Sisters Margaret Corkery and Ailish O’Brien lifted our hearts and spirits with their appropriate and wonderful music. Father Mike Drennan, S.J. was the chief celebrant and he was accompanied by the priests of Booterstown parish, Monsignor Seamus Conway and Father Larry Behan.
For those of us who were present at the ceremony it was a moment with many layers of significance. We enjoyed the social aspect, meeting Marion’s family and friends and our Mercy sisters, but as on all such occasions there is a deeper level of reflection. The ceremony called us back to the day we made our own commitment and to the paths and journeys in life we have travelled since. Back then final professions happened each year, now in our congregation they are rare. Much has changed; the unquestioned sureness of the past is less certain now. Somehow the ritual of the profession ceremony rises above the surface changes which have taken place and reaches once more to the bedrock of what our lives are about.
Sister Coirle McCarthy, our Congregational leader, asked Marion in the ‘questioning,’ ‘Will you strive for holiness in your love of God and God’s people by living the gospel with all your heart?’ Pope Benedict in his address to the students of Saint Mary’s University College, Twickenham, on Friday last also said many things which are worth pondering. One sentence was ‘True happiness is to be found in God, only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts,’ and another, ’The quest for the sacred is the search for the one thing necessary which alone satisfies the longings of the human heart.’ A third sentence from Pope Benedict, ‘We will continue to work to build bridges of friendship, to heal past wrongs and to foster trust’ speaks to our hearts today.
Marion by her final profession has committed herself, in the words of the second reading, Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, ‘to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that we may be filled with the fullness of God.’ The beautiful ceremony of profession echoed this hope for us all, that ‘by his power at work within us he may be able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine.’
Sister Coirle and Sister Peggy Collins, Provincial leader, both spoke to us during the ceremony. Their words were filled with hope and faith. Coirle in welcoming Marion to our congregation talked to us out of the gospel reading, ‘I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser.’ Even with the ups and downs which are part of all our lives Coirle assured Marion and all of us, ‘If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for whatever you please and you will get it.’ The story of the vine and the vinedresser is that of our relationship with Jesus, inseparable and dependent with pruning and constant reshaping. Peggy started her talk by saying that for many people today what Marion is doing is difficult to understand, but that religious life in its essence is about uttering ‘a beautiful song of love.’ Those of us who take vows express our desire and proclaim our commitment to live by that radical availability to Love which we believe is the ground of our being and the heart of reality. Peggy continued by saying that we will struggle to be true to this all the days of our lives, that we will often resist, that we need the mercy of God and the support of one another along the way. She concluded with the hope that there may be ‘an ever greater resonance between our prayer in secret and our life in public, between our promises and our actions.’
As the Mass progressed we had a sense of joy and a strong awareness of our solidarity and belonging as province and congregation. Because the profession ceremony was taking place in Booterstown church Coirle mentioned to us that Booterstown, by the sea, was a special house to Catherine McAuley, the seventh house of the institute established in 1838. It was a place of sad memories for her as her eldest nephew, James McAuley, died there and she lived in Booterstown for much of his illness. It is also the place of which Catherine, after observing the steam carriages which passed close to the convent, was heard to regret ‘that we cannot or do not, apply ourselves as unweariedly to the service of God as they do to the annihilation of distance.’ The original house where Catherine stayed is still a beautiful part of the convent today.
The concluding prayer of the Mass brought Marion’s commitment and her dreams for the future together with the desire of us all to live our vows in the spirit of Catherine McAuley and in the love of Christ, ‘May Marion be blessed with your Spirit. May we, like Catherine, be centered in you so that we are enabled to follow Christ and bear witness to your love through our compassionate love and service of your people.’
When the ceremony finished at 4.30 pm many of the sisters came to the convent for tea. There was a happy buzz of friendship and chat. The celebration meal for Marion, her family, friends and Mercy sisters was held in the Stillorgan Park Hotel which is close to the convent. It too was beautiful and an opportunity for a joyful get-together.
We pray for Marion, we thank her for her commitment to Mercy, we wish her joy, fulfillment and good health for the future. We thank everybody who made this memorable day possible.
Mary Coyle rsm
Srs. Peggy Collins (Provincial Leader), Margaret Prendergast and Coirle McCarthy (Congregational Leader)
A wonderfully joyful celebration took place in the Parish Church, Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny on Sunday September 6th as Sr. Margaret Prendergast made Final Profession with the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy.
As a large section of the population of Kilkenny headed towards Croke Park, Dublin for the All- Ireland hurling final against Tipperary, Sisters of Mercy, family and friends of Margaret travelled in the opposite direction to be with Margaret in her home town for this happy occasion.
Despite the torrential rain which fell during the day, the atmosphere in Paulstown Church was one of joy, peace and celebration. The solemn liturgy was celebrated by Fr. Larry Malone, Parish Priest of Paulstown. In his homily he spoke about the commitment which Margaret had made to God through her profession of vows and assured her of the support of her family, friends and Congregation in the years ahead. Margaret’s late parents were remembered especially throughout the ceremony and, though not physically present, were present in a very tangible way.
The music of the Paulstown choir, led by Sr. Celsus, added significantly to the beauty of the liturgy and the choir was joined by Fr. John Egan on guitar and Ailish O’Brien rsm on violin.
Sr. Coirle McCarthy, Leader of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, received Margaret’s vows and spoke of the great work of mercy which Margaret had engaged in prior to joining the Congregation. Sr. Coirle welcomed Margaret wholeheartedly as a fully professed member of the Congregation and reminded those gathered of the ministry of the Sisters of Mercy to the poor in Ireland since 1831.
Srs. Michelle O'Kelly, Margaret Prendergast and Bernie O'Grady -
the three most recently professed Sisters in the South Central Province of the Congregation
The celebration continued in the Lord Bagenal Hotel, Leighlinbridge, where a delicious meal was enjoyed by all. It was a great opportunity for Margaret’s family and friends and the Sisters of Mercy present to get to know one another. In a speech after the meal, Margaret paid special tribute to her parents and thanked her family for the great love and support they have always shown her.
Congratulations Margaret and we wish you great happiness and fulfilment in your life as a Sister of Mercy.
Ailish O'Brien rsm
‘What is seldom is wonderful!’ remarked Sr. Peggy Collins (Provincial Leader, SCP) in her Word of Welcome on Saturday November 29th 2008. This, she said, may be a cliché but it certainly was apt on this occasion, when Sr. Michele O’Kelly made her Final Commitment to the Congregation in her home town of Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. Her family, friends and many Sisters had travelled from far and wide to the Augustinian Friary on this bright, frosty day to celebrate what was to be a truly wonderful occasion. It was made all the more special, as Sr. Coirle Mc Carthy pointed out, by the fact that there were Sisters present from each of our seven Provinces.
In his homily, Fr Seamus Murphy SJ emphasised the immensity of God’s love, encapsulated so eloquently in Michele’s chosen scripture readings, speaking of our need to open our hands in order to receive this abundant gift. He reiterated the words of the Sufi mystic Rumi from Michele’s Profession booklet, ‘Open your hands if you want to be held’. He also explored the challenge and the potential of the vows, reminding us that we were about to witness Michele’s response to God’s magnificent gift of love in her life. Michele prostrated before the altar as Fr Kieran O’Mahony OSA led the congregation in the Litany of the Saints.
Sr. Coirle received her vows on behalf of the Congregation to the joy of all present. She later affirmed and encouraged Michele in her choice of this ‘road less travelled’, assuring her of our ongoing support as we live together in Mercy. Following a witty reminder from Fr Seamus the solemn final blessing was confirmed with four rousing Amens. This prayerful liturgy was enhanced throughout by the musical talents of Srs Margaret, Ailish, Frances and Moira, and the hearty singing of all.
The celebrations continued in Lawlor’s Hotel over a delicious meal with much laughter and chat. Michele spoke from her heart as she expressed her profound joy, love and gratitude to all who had been part of her journey to this day, but most especially to the God of Mercy in whom she had found her true home.
All too soon time came to leave the ‘sunny south east’ and make our way home. Arriving in Dublin late, our bus having been delayed due to ‘engine troubles’, a Sister in her 90’s was asked sympathetically if she were tired, dismissing the notion she replied that she ‘had found the whole day exhilarating’. I must say I thoroughly agree - it was a wonderful day.
Congratulations Michele and may you be blessed always with a deep sense of God’s love in your passionate and compassionate heart.
Marion Ryan RSM
‘God is Love’
‘The core of choice is groundless love, which may be answered only by total, unlimited love: the core of the I to the core of the You’ (quotation from Bernie’s Mass booklet)
Bernie, who comes from Hospital, Co. Limerick, made final profession of her vows as a Sister of Mercy at a public solemn ceremony in St. Senan’s Church, Kilrush, Co. Clare on Sunday, August 31. In attendance were her parents, sisters, and brother, nieces, nephews and friends and the people of Kilrush. Many Sisters of Mercy from the South Central Province and from around the country were also present.
Sr. Peggy Collins Provincial Leader welcomed everyone to this special liturgy. Fr. Michael Drennan was the chief celebrant at the Mass. In his homily he said that “God is Love and the only response to Love is Love”. He spoke about Bernie’s “wholehearted commitment to God’s call”.
Sr. Bernie receives her ring from Sr. Coirle McCarthy, Congregational Leader
Sr. Coirle McCarthy, Congregational Leader, received Bernie’s vows. She put Bernie’s’ call to Religious Live in the context of her family and spoke of how they nurtured her faith over the years. The moving ceremony was uplifting and joyful. Bernie’s niece, Mary, brought her ring to the altar. Her motto simply and profoundly states ‘God is Love’. Bernie prostrated during the litany of the saints. Then five sisters, representing the Congregation laid their hands on her head and prayed for her in silence.
Sr. Coirle McCarthy (Congregational Leader), Sr. Bernie O'Grady and Sr. Peggy Collins (Provincial Leader)
The Liturgy was enhanced by the beautiful music and singing led by the local folk choir of Kilrush. Children who are neighbours of Bernie and Teresa sang ‘This Little Light of Mine'. After the ceremony tea and refreshments were served in the local hall. Bernie, her family, friends and many Sisters later celebrated in Bellbridge House Hotel in Spanish Point.
Bernie spoke of her Profession as an opportunity to give witness to her relationship with God and to publicly commit to that relationship through being a Sister of Mercy. Her mother Catherine stated that it was the most significant day of her life - a day she and her husband so looked forward to. “We are married 46 years and this is the best day of our lives. She is a wonderful daughter,” said her proud parents.
Bernie is currently living in Kilrush, Co. Clare with Sr. Teresa Hogan. Here she is immersed with Teresa in the local community, being with the people in a very genuine and sincere way. The Final Profession was a great day for the O’Grady family, for the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy and for all the People of God. May God bless Bernie and grant her all she needs to fulfill the words of her profession. May her consecration inspire others to say, “yes” to God’s sacred invitation and call.
Congratulations Bernie and may your life be richly blessed.
Sr. Phyllis Moynihan
Sr. Fiona Galligan made her Final Profession 2nd December 2006 in St. Anthony's Church Craigavon Co. Armagh in the presence of her family and friends, also Sisters of Mercy from the Northern Province and many from around the country. The celebrant was Fr.Martin McAlinden PP, assisted by Fr.Tom McAteer. Bishop John McAreavey presided.
Sr. Coirle McCarthy, Congregational Leader, received Fiona's vows in the name of the Church and the Congregation. Sr. Ann Marie McQuaid, Provincial Leader, welcomed everyone to this special liturgy. The theme of " Only in God is my soul at rest" resonated throughout the ceremony.
Srs Ann Marie McQuaid (Provincial Leader), Fiona Galligan and
Coirle McCarthy (Congregational Leader)
Sr. Coirle McCarthy expressed and reflected on the wonder of God's Call as the 'waiting,' watching,' and anticipation in joyful hope of the Advent Season was now upon us.
The Liturgy was enhanced bu the beautiful music and singing led by Srs. Marie Cox and Deirdre McKenna. The solist was Fr. John Byrne. Instrumentalists were Katrina Herron on the keyboard and Ann Mullen playing violin.
Sunday 27th August 2006 was a day to remember not only in Belfast but throughout the Mercy Congregation.
"God of my life I long for you."
Sr.Aine Campbell made her final vows in the presence of her family and friends, and Sisters from the Northern Province and beyond.
Our Congregational Leader Elect Sr.Coirle McCarthy received Aine's vows in the beautiful setting of St.Gerard's Church Belfast. Present also were members of the PLT Sr.Ann Marie McQuaid, Provincial Leader, Sr.Chris Hegarty, Sr.Philomena Finnegan and Sr.Anne Lyng who accompanied Aine throughout her formation years.
Srs. Coirle McCarthy (Congregational Leader Elect), Aine Campbell and Anne Marie McQuaid (Proincial Leader)
The theme of 'Longing and Committment,' echoed throughout the meaningful and reflective ceremony,expressed though music, song, and mime.The celebrant was Fr.Martin Magill, and the homily was delivered by Sr.Anne Lyng.
There followed a celebratory meal in the Europa Hotel in Belfast city centre where all had a chance to meet and enjoy a wonderful evening to conclude a special day. Thanks be to God.
St. Brendan’s Church, Birr, Co. Offaly, Ireland was the place where all roads lead to on Sunday 27th August 2006 for the first Profession of Sr. Margaret Prendergast and Sr. Marion Ryan. At the geographical centre of South Central Province and in the place and Church where Catherine McAuley renewed her vows for the last time, St. Brendan’s Pugin Church in Birr was the chosen place for the first Profession of both Marion and Margaret.
Srs. Margaret Prendergast, Helena O'Donoghue (Provincial Leader) and Marion Ryan
Their families, friends and Sisters gathered in prayer, excitement and anticipation for the two o’clock Profession ceremony set in the context of the Eucharist presided over by Fr. Mike Drennan. S.J. Sr. Helena O’Donoghue (Provincial) accepted their vows. In her homily she reminded us of the significance of the event and among other things quipped that it was in Birr Catherine said ‘Hurrah for foundations; they make the old young and the young merry’. Both old and young were in good spirits, enjoyed the hospitality of the Birr Sisters and Dooly’s Hotel and the welcome of the Parish of Birr. There was no need to ‘keep hot turf under the butter to enable us to cut it’; even the weather was kind to us and the rain stayed away. As Margaret and Marion join the long and varied tradition of mercy we wish them well and a blessing each day ‘knowing they have one solid comfort … their hearts can always be in the same place centred in God’ (C.McA)
Michele O'Kelly and Bernie O'Grady made First Profession in the South Central Province of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy in September 2004. The ceremony took place in the Parish Church in Coolock, Dublin and was attended by many Sisters of Mercy and Michele and Bernie's family and friends.
Michele and Bernie (front) and some of those who attended the Profession Ceremony
Sr. Mary Reynolds represented the Congregational Leadership Team and Sr. Helena O'Donoghue, Provincial leaders of South Central Province accepted Michele and Bernie's vows. The ceremony was followed by refreshments for all who attended. It was a wonderful occasion and we wish Michele and Bernie many years of happiness as Sisters of Mercy.
Srs. Michele O'Kelly, Helena O'Donoghue (Provincial Leader), Bernie O'Grady