There was a wonderful ‘buzz’ in the parish church in Francis St, Dublin at the 11.30 Sunday Mass on 26 April when local sisters took over at the invitation of the parish priest! To mark the Year of Consecrated Life, Fr Martin invited us to take charge of a Sunday Mass. We decided to give it a shot, inspired by the words of President Obama, and its Irish translation, is feidir linn! We chose the 11.30 Mass at which some of are usually involved as organists, choir-members, readers and ministers of the Eucharist. As it turned out, it was also the 150th anniversary of the sisters arriving in the Coombe (October 1865) which added to the sense of occasion, not to mention Good Shepherd Sunday and therefore Vocation Sunday.
Mass opened with the hymn ‘Wake the world’, specially commissioned for the Year of Consecrated Life. Each of the seven sisters in the community had a role in the liturgy from organist to reader, solist, minister of the Eucharist. We invited sisters who had connection with the Coombe: past pupils; teachers; other sisters who were born or baptised here to return for the occasion. Our good friends the Presentation Sisters came out in support.
Fr Martin said a few words of appreciation for us as women firstly, then religious. In the reflection we heard that when Margaret Aylward, our foundress, came to the Coombe in 1865, she engaged with the local people, learned from the bottom-up how things really were, and responded in modest but effective ways that respected the agency or independence of people, such as setting a woman up with a basket of cauliflowers to trade. That is the example we hope to follow – well not sure about the cauliflower! So before the final blessing, from the steps of the altar, we prayed a blessing on the people, with arms outstretched, singing ‘May the Lord bless you, all the days of your life’.Since then we have had much positive feedback and words of thanks.
At home at the evening community prayer, our own gratitude was heartfelt; it was an uplifting and encouraging occasion, we thank God for the sisters who have lived here before us, sharing their gifts and talents in the schools and parish, and we thank God to be able to contribute still in the Liberties, by presence and prayer and in ministry, in small but much appreciated ways. Yes, we can, Is féidir linn. That, in God’s grace, is the situation now and we thank God for it.
Holy Faith Sisters, The Coombe, Dublin