Remembering the work of Mary Aikenhead

Remembering the work of Mary Aikenhead

Dear Editor, The Religious Sisters of Charity, an order heretofore embroiled in contention regarding the ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital, has relinquished its role in its health care group having no role whatsoever in the management or governance in relation to the new national maternity hospital and the St Vincent’s Hospital Group (SVHG) and ownership of the new maternity facility.

In 2020 the Religious Sisters of Charity relinquished their shares in SVHG and transferred them to the new independent charity, St Vincent’s Holdings. The share transfer resulted in the new independent charity being the ultimate owner of 29 acres at St Vincent’s Hospital, Elm Park and 3.2 acres at St Michael’s Hospital, Dún Laoghaire.

The religious order resigned from the SVHG’s board of directors four years ago and has no future role in the new independent charity, the SVHG or the new national maternity hospital ending its role in 2017. This ended the Religious Sisters 186-year involvement in the management of St Vincent’s Hospital, which commenced in 1834, when Mary Aikenhead, foundress of the congregation established the first hospital that freely admitted patients, regardless of their race, creed or ability to pay.

Mary Aikenhead’s God-inspired dream responded to the needs of the people of her time, especially the indigent, which became a reality by founding the Religious Sisters of Charity.
Increasing unemployment, outbreaks of cholera and the great famine were part of the setting in which Mary Aikenhead founded her new congregation. The work of Mary Aikenhead included the establishment of schools, hospitals and orphanages for people in need, and more importantly the visiting of the poor, especially the sick in their homes, and those in prison.

Yours etc.,
Gerry Coughlan
Kilnamanagh, Dublin 24

Heaven on earth for all saints

Dear Editor, What a fabulous page of photographs with the headline: ‘Heaven on earth for All Saints in St Saviour’s’ in The Irish Catholic. The imagination and creativity of the children wearing costumes designed to illustrate their chosen saints was wonderful. No doubt their parents were also involved in the making and sewing. I’m sure the children learned a great deal about the saints through this project and celebration. It is a much-needed antidote to the commercial imposition and dreariness of the imported ‘trick or ‘treat’ with its very real dark side which is so unhealthy spiritually. Well done to whoever in St Saviour’s came up with such a brilliant idea and to you for publishing the photos. I hope this celebration of saints by children catches on nationwide from now.

Yours etc.,
Dr Noreen O’Carroll
Blackrock, Dublin

‘Profound weakness’ in the new Irish culture

Dear Editor, I would like to thank your columnist Rory Fitzgerald for revealing to your readers the state of play in our schools at present [The Irish Catholic – November 4, 2021]. He tells us that the ‘new’ Ireland, which seems to have the backing of the Government, “prioritises wealth at all costs and sees faith as a dangerous superstition. It imitates the secular morality of other Western countries, which Ireland was obstinately slow to adopt for centuries”.
He outlines how the demands for the removal of religious ethos from schools grow louder by the day. “Ireland’s culture war is undeclared, but it is underway nonetheless,” he writes, adding that Irish religion teachers warn that children who practise their faith are now subject to bullying. Traditional values are anathema.

Rory pointed out that the ‘new’ Irish culture has a profound weakness, and is following the demographic pattern of all western countries which have embraced the same precepts – a dramatic collapse in its birth rate.

Starting with the very young – the unborn – and continuing with the old, our politicians have targeted our most vulnerable citizens for extinction, via abortion and euthanasia. Rory’s warning that they are spreading their evil message into our schools should wake up the public to the damage they have done in encouraging their evil deeds by voting to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
It’s time for our leaders in Faith – bishops and priests – to lead their flock back to a civilised way of living. The barbarity of our present ways do not suit our gentle Irish nature.

Yours etc.,
Sean Ryan
Dundrum, Dublin 16

We need more heroic priests like Fr O’Reilly

Dear Editor, I was very impressed by Fr Oliver O’Reilly, the parish priest of Ballyconnell in Cavan. Your front page [The Irish Catholic – November 11, 2021] reflected the strong stance he took against the thugs who abducted and brutalised Kevin Lunney. Fortunately, three men who were involved were convicted of these horrific crimes.

We need more heroic priests like Fr O’Reilly who despite intimidation speak out against violence and organised crime, it is not an easy thing to do but priests have taken on this role for centuries – spreading the Gospel message even when it means putting yourself in the firing line.
We need not look far to find heroic missionaries in particular, who brought education and healthcare far and wide. They stayed in countries wracked by war and strife, never abandoning their flock and speaking out against authoritarian regimes – sometimes paying the ultimate price.

These are the men who, through their actions, are some of the best examples of Christians. Their stories have inspired vocations and helped faith flourish for decades. If more young people in Ireland today knew of their work and their sacrifice perhaps they would not look so negatively on the Church?
I was particularly struck by Fr O’Reilly’s comment on his moral duty to speak out. He said: “I would see that very much as our role, there’s certain moral issues you have to take a stand on because otherwise, if you turn a blind eye, you’re a hypocrite and I would feel very strongly about that.”

There have been, and there are currently, many hypocrites in the Church, who take strong stands publicly but act terribly behind closed doors. We need not look too far in the Church’s past to know just how far this evil hypocrisy can go.
Fr O’Reilly is an example to us all.

Yours etc.,
Donal O’Neill
Carlow Town, Carlow