On 23rd April 2023, Sr Marie Assumpta Cahill, living in Providence, St Mary’s Merrion Dublin reached the wonderful age of 100 years. This was a great occasion and it was wonderful to see Assumpta in such good health and able to enjoy the celebrations.
These really began in late March when she received a letter from the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins.
It is customary for the President to write to all Centenarians and offer them a gift from the ‘President’s bounty’. The letter brought great joy to Sr Assumpta and with some persuasion she read it out to all who wished to hear about it.
In the President’s letter he said:
‘It gives me great pleasure to write to you as you celebrate the hundredth anniversary of your birth’. May I take this opportunity to join with your family and friends in congratulating you on this most joyous and significant occasion.
Throughout this past century you have witnessed remarkable changes to all aspects of our lives. In many ways, the world we inhabit today would have been unimaginable on the day of your birth. In so many other ways, however, the human condition remains the same and we continue with similar preoccupations, ambitions, worries, challenges and joys as those shared by countless generations before us. Yet it is the gift of our lives to try and make it better – níos fear.
You have played your own important part in shaping and crafting the world we inhabit today, bringing your own energy, experience and wisdom to your work, family and community life. As President of Ireland, I congratulate and thank you for that important contribution.’
The cheque arrived some time later and in her own good time, Assumpta will decide how it will be spent.
The community/family celebration was held on the 22nd April. It was a much-anticipated day although she herself was wishing it was all over and wanted a small quiet celebration with community and some family, nevertheless she enjoyed every minute of it.
Sr Assumpta’s family were looking forward to the day and one niece, one nephew and his wife travelled from New York to be with her on the occasion. 10 other nieces and nephews living in Ireland also came.
The community in Providence and some close neighbours were present on the day too. Mass was celebrated by Fr Pat Doody CSSp in our own chapel in St Mary’s Donnybrook. It was a simple, reflective and prayerful experience with Sr Rosaleen Crossan RSC providing the guitar accompaniment to the singing and Sr Martina Iyamah RSC singing the psalm.
No celebration could be complete without some hiccup and lo and behold just as mass ended, there was a power cut and the lift from the chapel went out of order. The situation required some logistical manoeuvrings as a few sisters with disability issues needed help to get down the stairs but all arrived down safely in the end, thank God.
The Irish weather is variable at the best of times. We sometimes can experience four seasons in one day and so there was a dash through torrential rain to the cars to ferry everyone to the hotel.
Close to where we live in Merrion, a newly built hotel, the Maldron had recently opened. On enquiry they were very happy to accommodate ‘the neighbours’ in one of their event rooms for a lovely lunch. And so, we gathered there to enjoy the lovely food, cut the special birthday cake and see a lovely display of photographs that Assumpta’s niece, Sheila, had gathered and put together. She also had a ‘family tree’ poster.
Some of the family stayed overnight in the hotel or in an Airbnb and so the festivities were extended into the night for the family. One of her nieces, Monica, was aware that Assumpta was not big into presents and so they decided that anyone wishing to give her a present would make a donation to a charity of her choice. She chose Focus Ireland and the family donated €600 to that charity.
The next day some of them came to Providence to visit and say goodbye before they travelled back home. One niece stayed in the hotel for a week and so Assumpta had the pleasure of her company for that time.
All good things must come to an end but with the ‘President’s bounty’ perhaps the celebrations will go on for the year. Assumpta will decide.