Sr Eilis Dockery RSC reports on the 200th anniversary celebration held recently in Cork – Mary Aikenhead’s birthplace.
Sisters from all parts of Ireland came by train, bus and cars to join with the two communities in Cork on 10th September 2015. We were delighted to welcome Sr. Mary Christian and Sr. Phyllis Behan as well as members of their teams to this celebration. About 700 people altogether gathered in the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne where Bishop John Buckley was the chief celebrant of our Bicentenary Mass. The people of the Cathedral Parish were present, as well as parishioners from Holy Family, St. Patrick’s and Blarney where Sisters of Charity had lived and worked in the past. Staff, past as well as present, from St. Patrick’s and Marymount, St. Vincent’s Primary School, St. Vincent’s Centre, St. Vincent’s Secondary School and Primary and Secondary Schools of Blarney mingled with friends and neighbours from various parts of Cork. The Lord Mayor attended and Sr. Anne Patrick Walsh acted as his Chaplain. Reverend Sarah Marry from Shandon (where Mary Aikenhead was baptised) came to the Mass and Mrs. Grace O’Brien – one of the Friends of Mary Aikenhead here in Cork – acted as her Chaplain. In the entrance procession we carried a picture of the South Chapel because of the special connection with Mary Aikenhead and we had the flags from every country where the Sisters of Charity are living and working. A choir made up of students from St. Vincent’s Primary and Secondary Schools led the congregational singing and Eileen Liston – former student and teacher from St. Vincent’s – was the cantor and conductor of the singing. The cathedral organist – Joe Higgins – provided the accompaniment and a trumpeter sounded the royal salute at the Elevation of the Host and Chalice. A lovely violin solo was played by Sarah Dineen during Communion. Fr. Mark Hehir gave a most inspiring homily on Mary Aikenhead’s origins and later connections with Cork. He is well known to the Sisters of Charity as he was a Curate in the Cathedral Parish for some years and then ministered in Marymount as Chaplain until he moved back to the Diocese of Cloyne. A colourful and very reverent group of ballet dancers from the Firkin Crane School of Dancing led the Offertory Procession to the altar.
Immediately after Mass all went across the road to St. Vincent’s Secondary School where refreshments were served and all socialised and met with friends.
We thanked God for blessing us with such a lovely fine day and noted that the rain returned to Cork on the day following!