Sr. Maria Kenny RSC reflects on her move from the English/Scottish province to the Irish province and her new ministry: Greetings! These are a few thoughts, reflections and experiences in my first appointment in Dublin having enjoyed 40 years in the English Province working in Birkenhead, London and Birmingham. It was a great joy for me to return to Dublin where I received a very warm welcome.
I was blessed and grateful to the Irish Province for the period I was given to reflect and rest before taking up any ministry. Having met the Parish Priest and some members of the Parish Council with the help of one of the Provincial team who was so very helpful to me I was missioned to St Patrick’s Parish in Ringsend and Irishtown. In 1833 Mary Aikenhead in one of her letters wrote how she received donations amounting to approx. £50 pounds. She purchased a store in Townsend St. Ringsend which was suitable for a small hospital and opened it to nurse the Cholera stricken patients there. What a wonderful woman she was!
In the beginning I was a little apprehensive as it was still early days since the Ryan and Murphy report. I wondered would I be accepted? I said to myself “go forward and trust, the grace of God is with you” if it is to be, great, if not, there are other areas in need”. During the first week as I was travelling around the parish with thick snow on the ground trying to find different streets, roads, houses, flats etc. I didn’t know the area at all. I made my way down one street I looked up to see the name of the block of houses, to my amazement it was “Aikenhead Terrace” I couldn’t believe my eyes it was like a special gift given to me. I stood and kept looking at it and said to myself “Maria you are in the right place, it’s meant to be.” I thanked God for this special moment of grace.
The Parish and families welcomed me and appreciated that they had a sister to visit them and work in the parish. Many of the families are happy, joyful, full of fun, but many more are very poor, physically, materially, and psychologically. They have lots of invisible wounds, left on their minds and hearts by hardships, worry, and anxiety with some of it on-going. They have shared much with me. There is a wonderful community spirit, their Faith is precious to them, some would not be weekly church-goers, but they would always be at funerals, baptisms, confirmations, and communions.
Those who are sick, housebound, lonely, bereaved all look forward to receiving the Eucharist in their homes. We have had a number of sudden deaths with young people, suicides, many tragic accidents, drugs etc. It is important to listen to their very sad stories, just to be a presence and assure them that Christ weeps with them in their pain and grief.
I also visit sheltered accommodation and support any of their activities, the Spellman Centre where young people and their families are supported in their struggle to become free of drugs. Different events for them are organized; group therapy courses, one to one counselling, Art and mid-day meals are available for them. Great work is done here thank God. I go into the school meet the teachers and all the children, visit all those families who have children for the Sacraments, Confirmation and Holy Communion. We meet monthly for the Parish Council and hope with God’s help and the parishioners to build a Parish Centre which is badly needed.
“I do not need to seek God, God is already here
Waiting to be found, soaked in my reality,
My journey is to be one of recognizing God always,
Already present and surfacing that Presence in my daily life”.