In an article that appeared in our January 2018 eNews we reported that in the Irish Province it had been decided over the course of the next few years there would be a remembrance celebration in all of the graveyards where our sisters are buried. Recently two celebrations took place, one in Beneda and the second in Waterford.
Visit to Benada Graveyard
The Sisters of Charity left Benada in 1989. On Sunday 15th April twenty six Sisters travelled back to Benada by bus to remember and celebrate those who are buried in the little graveyard there. We had expected it to be a quiet and low key service as had happened in Kilkenny and in Kilbarrack. We were therefore very surprised when a large group of local people gathered to greet us and to join us for the afternoon. In spite of the years that have elapsed since our departure , the people there still hold us in affection and gratitude for the contribution we made in various ways through our presence and ministry.
The remembrance service was simple and solemn. The youngest sister buried in the little graveyard in April 1895 was Sister Anne Veronica Blake who died at the age of 24 years and the last sister buried there in November 1982 was Sister Mary Anthony Harney who was 90 years old when she died. We blessed and incensed the graves and called out the names and ages of those buried there. We prayed also for all who are buried in the extended graveyard and for the past residents of Benada Abbey who are buried in Rhue nearby, in Glasnevin and elsewhere throughout the world.
After the Service we were invited to the old school hall where the people had prepared a real feast of homemade sandwiches and confectionary. The warmth of the welcome, the buzz of conversation, the memories shared and the sheer happiness of reunions was a reminder that the good that we do lives on long after our departure from a place. It was very evident that the sisters over the years had had a profound and lasting impact on the lives of the people of Benada and the surrounding areas.
The Sisters who had lived in Benada – and indeed all of us – were disappointed to see the dilapidated state of the Convent and orphanage which now stand sad and silent.
In spite of this we thank God that, by His grace, the ‘fruits of our labours’ there have been so enduring and so highly appreciated.
Visit to Waterford Graveyard
On Sunday 20th May we gathered in the small graveyard behind St. Joseph’s School on Parnell Street in Waterford to remember and give thanks for the Sisters buried there. It was a blustery day with some misty rain but the atmosphere was warm and prayerful as sixteen of us gathered for the Service. Interestingly there are no individual graves marked out but rather two Celtic Crosses with the names of the Sisters engraved on them. As we have done in all our remembrance services, we blessed and incensed the graves and placed flowers to honour them and the lives they offered in the service of God and the Congregation.
The graves of the earliest sisters to be buried in Waterford are in the graveyard attached to the Church across the road from St. Joseph’s. A few miles out the road in Tramore there is a similar graveyard which contains the graves of the sisters who died there. One of our Sisters died in a hospital in Dungarvan and is buried there. All of these were remembered at our ceremony.
The community in Tramore had arranged everything to do with the event and after the service provided us with a lovely ‘cuppa’ in the staff room of the school.