The long awaited new community of the Religious Sisters of Charity came into being on the 22nd July, 2021. Originally the building was scheduled for completion in November 2020 but due to Covid 19 and related lockdowns, the completion date was pushed back further and further.
Those who visited Mary Aikenhead’s grave have passed the St. Margaret’s and Daysprings buildings as they approached the gate of the graveyard. Some sisters stayed in the St. Margaret’s side during the Bicentenary celebrations. On the advice of the Health Service Executive, the former residents were moved to de-congregated settings, thus freeing up the buildings. Permission from the General Leadership Team for the refurbishment was given to the Irish Provincial Team in the months prior to the 2019 General Chapter. Plans were drawn up and the work commenced in October 2019.
The first two members of the community, Sisters Rosaleen Desmond and Mary Christian took up residence on the 22nd July 2021. Sarah Atkinson on page 427 of her book writes:
“On the 22nd July, the feast of St. Mary Magdalen,
Mary Aikenhead received Holy viaticum at noon;
and about three o’clock on the same day,
as her (sisters) knelt around her,
she breathed her last.”
On that same date, and the same time – three o’clock, one hundred and sixty three years later – the two members of the new community were joined by Sr. Patricia Lenihan and her Team and Sr. Una O’Neil and her Team to pray a blessing on Rosemount. The Blessed Sacrament was reserved and the following prayer of blessing was recited together:
“We pray a special blessing on Srs. Mary Christian, Rosaleen Desmond and the first members of the community. On all who were involved in the reconstruction of this building: the project committee, the various contractors, the furnishers, the painters …the General Leadership Team who financed it with generosity and ease … and all who helped in any way to bring the project to completion ensuring it is a place of light and beauty.”
Throughout the next few weeks, Rosaleen and Mary shopped for all the outstanding items and prepared for the arrival of the other members who would form the community. In the previous weeks, Sr. Una was busy discerning with each one and the final list was:
Srs. Laeticia Amadi, Pauline Butler, Eilis Doherty, Ann Forrest, Marie Helen Hicks, Mary Judge, Christina Kelleghan, Anne Lally and Catherine Maguire. The first seven sisters were welcomed on the 9th August, followed by Srs. Pauline and Helen on the 18th. The sisters were delighted with the spaciousness of the entire building and their own rooms in particular. The capacity is twenty-four bedrooms, plus a small apartment. Little by little our numbers will grow and next week we are preparing to welcome two new members. On Thursday, 7th October, Sr. Uche Ojukwu will be arriving from Nigeria to attend the Formators’ Course in Loreto House and on the following day they will be joined by Sr. Muriel Larkin. By the time this is read we hope our two sisters will be settling in and feeling part of the community.
Sisters were interested and curious regarding this new community and building. We decided that we would not leave them in suspense for too long. Our first visitors were our neighbours from St. Mary’s and Daysprings. This was followed by Open House for the weekend of the 27th, 28th and 29th August. All were delighted to meet the members of our community who took them on a tour, finishing up with afternoon tea. For those who could not attend on those days we say ‘welcome’ whenever you are in the area.
After almost two years as a building site, the grounds were in need of attention. New grass seed was sown, planting took place and a wild flower garden was prepared. Already many different species of bees can be seen amidst the wild flowers. Just this week the signs were finally installed and those visiting the campus will be in no doubt as to where the different buildings are located.
As we begin our journey as this new community, ’Journeying together into the New Dawn’, we are inspired by the words of General Chapter 2019:
The new dawn is breaking!
The sun is rising!
The Spirit invites us to grow into
The fullness of life and love.”
It is indeed a privilege for us to live so close to the final resting place of our foundress, Venerable Mary Aikenhead, to see her tomb from so many of our windows, in her words: ‘We have every reason to be thankful to Almighty Providence’. (13th March 1835)