Religious sisters (a.k.a. nuns) have received a lot of negative attention in recent years. While some of it is justified in the case of some individuals, the wide brush of public opinion has also done a lot of injustice to many fine women who have generously served the Lord and his people during their lives.
I was in the company of a group of them yesterday. One of the Little Sisters of the Assumption in Cork invited me to join them in Mass of thanksgiving for one sisters Golden Jubilee of her Profession as a sister.
I met Sr. Patricia O’Donovan shortly after I was assigned to my first parish in Cork. St. Patrick’s Parish includes the area way up at the top of Patrick’s Hill and the community that reaches back towards Blackpool. In the heart of it is a colony of former Victorian Barrack Houses which are now let out by Cork City Council to small families and individuals. However, during the most of the 20th Century these were home to hundreds of families where men and women worked hard to raise and feed their families with few resources or comforts.
Sr. Patricia was then the Public Health Nurse for the area and a large part of the northside of the city as well. She hovered through the area 7 days a week calling in and checking on virtually everyone who had a need. She had a truly wide understanding of people’s health! So if one man needed a word of comfort and if a woman on the terrace was worried about a neighbour, and if another wondered why the priest was running late on his First Friday calls, Sr. Patricia was there to answer in between the bandaging, phoning the hospitals looking for a bed for someone and chasing the Corporation for the long-promised new front door for a frail woman who was getting perished with the cold.
Sr. Patricia is part of a long but largely untold history of the Sisters in Cork who have given fantastic service to families and communities. They served as mid-wives, social workers, nurses, neighbours, managers of social service centres and more. Most of them are retired now but their concept of retirement is heavily nuanced! Several of them are still active in various ways in the city, making a difference in people’s lives, bringing hope and care and affection in the name of the Lord.
Congratulations Patricia and thanks to you and to your community for all you do and have done.
The Sisters’ website is here.