Sister Mary Finian Bourke celebrated her 100th Birthday on 5 June 2013. It was a wonderful celebration, attended by a number of her extended family, the Lakelands Community in Dublin and many other sisters and friends. Sometime after the celebration Sr Finian was interviewed and was asked about the celebration and how it feels to be 100:
How does it feel to be 100?
I feel the same as ever. There’s no difference. I don’t feel any different. I had a lovely birthday celebration. There was such a crowd there. There were celebrations…different things. They were all wishing me a happy birthday. And that was all. I didn’t know half of them. My sister was there. She was the only one. The two of us are the only two left of the family. One nephew wasn’t there. He’s out foreign. The second nephew was there and his wife. The other man’s wife was there and her son. And then Maura my niece and Tommy, her husband, were there. She’s a lovely girl. They’re a lovely pair. They have three children. They’re grown up. They were all there for dinner. The Mass was at 11 o’clock. Fr Bergin said it. It was a lovely Mass.
What advice would you give to young Sisters today about how to live their lives?
Do what they were told in the noviceship before they came out, whoever instructed them last. Be very careful of their observance of religious life. When they’re outside, mixing with seculars, always to remember they are apart in a way.
What helped you to get through difficult times?
I supposed I prayed. The Sacred Heart was my advisor. He always helped me… and the Holy Spirit. So it didn’t bother me too much. It didn’t take too much out of me.
You got gifts for your birthday?
I got nice things. They had a picture of me when I was five. I think they got that from Maura, my niece. She has it. But my grandfather was an American. He was a real American. He was born in America but he lived at home. And he thought when he got married that the wife would come out to America and live. And they’d bring up the family there. But the wife, the first thing, got malaria in America and they had to come back straight away and they could never go back again or she’d get the same. So he came over to Ireland, but now and again he’d take a little trip back to America and return again. But they never fell out over it. He’d go and he’d come and he’d go and he’d come. Of course we were mad about him. My photo was taken when I was five. He had a brother in America and he used to be writing home about his daughter or his niece. My Grandfather lived beside us at home. So he wasn’t going to be outdone. So he had to get the photo taken and send it out there. So that’s how that originated.
There was a GAA poster?
I used to play camogie.
You had a cast made of your hands?
A girl came out and she had stuff to put them in to make a mould. When the girl was doing the hands my ring got stuck in the plaster, so she had to rescue it and bring it back. Thank God. It would have been terrible if I had Iost it.
So you’re happy in your vocation?
O Lord save us, yes. I couldn’t be any happier. Everyone is so good and kind. And God, of course, is always there. That’s the way. That’s the life. The next step will be up there. I suppose I am ready, as ready as I can be. Everybody was so good. Of course the family… my father and mother. I think there’s nobody like them. We were very united. There were ten of us. There’s only the two now. The two nuns are left. I was brought up… with six brothers. There were four of them before me. And then I arrived. Then there were two more. And then after that, three girls. I was out on my own. I was five before I had a sister. I was five and there were six boys there before me. So I was with them most of the time and we played football and everything. Then these three little things… I was delighted. I wasn’t jealous a bit. I was five when Nuala arrived and I wanted to show her off. She was a beauty. I knew myself how beautiful I was! I had no illusions. And I wanted to show Nuala to everybody. I’d take her by the hand and I’d say: ‘This is my little sister.’ I always had a kind of yellow face and straight hair but she was fair, with lovely pinky cheeks and fair hair and big blue eyes – big innocent eyes. She was a lovely little thing. So I was five when she arrived. But I was always with the boys because they (the girls) were too small. So I might be playing with them and I’d hear the lads outside in the haggard. I’d say goodbye to Nuala and the babies and I’d go out. That was our life.