Age no barrier to 75-year-old Tipp nun Sr. Patricia Wall

Sr Patricia Takes To the Sky

Sr Patricia Takes To the Sky

This May, if you look to the sky, it is possible that you just might see the hand of God guiding one of his servants to ground as Presentation nun Sr Patricia Wall completes her sky dive. Not only is she possibly the first nun to take part in a sky dive but she will be doing so in her 75th year making her one of the oldest people to take part in a sky dive at Sky Dive Ireland in Birr, Co Offaly.

The reasons for her taking such a brave step are close to her heart as she is hoping to raise E150,000 for the charity Aware along with a number of local projects she is involved with.

Since news of her sky dive appeared in the national newspapers this week, Sr Patricia has been on radio with the John Murray Show, Tipp FM’s Seamus Martin and Today FM’s Ray Darcy Show. TV3’s Vincent Browne highlighted her cause on his show during the week and it is hoped she will be on the Today show on International Women’s Day, Friday March 8th. She will be in Semple Stadium on Sunday next March 10th when Tipperary take on Kilkenny and will ask the counties to join together in supporting her fundraising efforts for her charities so you can catch a glimpse of the Flying Nun in person.

Sr Patricia, who turns 75 on Saturday, joined the Presentation Sisters in Thurles when she was 17. When she was three and a half years old she followed her older siblings to their primary school in Thurles and has been with the Presentation Sisters since. She trained to be a teacher with the Presentation and has worked in Tipperary, Kilkenny and Dublin. She was Principal of the Presentation Secondary School in Ballingarry from 1980 to 1983 and now calls Ballingarry village her home. She also travelled the world with her vocation bringing her to places such as Zimbabwe and New Zealand. In fact, it was while Sr Patricia was in New Zealand that she experienced a deep depression. She was in her late 20’s and very far from home. In those days she said if “you went that far away it usually meant you may not come back”. However she sought help from a doctor and through counseling along with a leave of absence from the convent, Sr Patricia returned to full health and was soon back in her habit and religious way of life.

Along with her own experience of depression, Sr Patricia has seen first hand how this illness can affect those living in rural Ireland and that is why she wants to help Aware. They have support groups all over the country and their “Beat the Blues” campaign which is aimed at secondary school students from Transition Year to Leaving Certificate, is very important due to the increase in teenage suicide and the many problems facing young people these days. Aware has many services available and more information can be found on www.aware.ie or 1890 303 302.

She retired from teaching in 1997 and returned to study in a Community Development course. The following year she was asked back to Ballingarry as the convent was closing and she was needed. She has been in Ballingarry since 1998 and she said “it’s the longest I’ve stayed in any place”. When the convent closed the remaining Presentation Sisters moved to Assumption Terrace in Ballingarry village and so began Sr Patricia’s commitment to the community of her adopted parish. She and her neighbours in Assumption Terrace set up a residence committee and around the same time funding came through to set up a Family Resource Centre in Glengoole which serviced the parishes of Killenaule, Gortnahoe-Glengoole, Ballingarry and Kilcooley. From there Slieveardagh CITE (training centre) in Ballingarry and Slieveardagh Rural Development Heritage Centre in Killenaule were formed. Sr Patricia is also involved with The Old School in The Commons, Brightsparks Childcare (which provides a play school along with full day childcare), Ballynonty Memorial Garden and community enhancement projects such as the Tidy Towns and the development of the corner site in Ballingarry village where it is hoped they can bring all the elements of parish life together such as mining, ecclesiastical and community.

It was through her involvement with the Ballynonty Memorial Garden that the idea of doing a sky dive came about as four members of their committee raised a large amount of money when they did their sky dive. Now with her strong fundraising committee in place, Sr Patricia can focus on preparing herself for the sky dive. She is fit and well as she has always been involved in sports, no doubt influenced by her brother Tony, a former All Ireland winning captain with Tipperary who also wrote the first comprehensive book on coaching in the GAA.

Sky Dive Ireland has been a huge support to her giving her plenty of advice about what she can expect. When asked what prayer she will be saying as she jumps out she is unsure but as they switch off the engine for a few minutes to capture the sound of the sky divers reaction, Sr Patricia is “hoping a prayer will come out!”

Sr Patricia has the all clear from her Doctor and the full support of her family, her order, the community, her friends and after all the media attention the whole country. The story of the Flying Nun as she is now known will continue until this summer when she takes to the sky in a bid to encourage all to dig deep and help her worthy charity and causes.

Another date for your diary is Saturday April 13th as there will be a Flying Nun party in the Anner Hotel. There will be more information about this event in the coming weeks.

For more details you can find her on facebook – www.facebook.com/theflyingnun2013. To donate you can either go online to www.mycharity.ie/event/theflyingnun or through AIB Fethard, sort code: 93-52-04; account number: 23184576; account name: Sliabh Ardagh Rural Development Aware Sky Dive. Remember, you can see Sr Patricia this Sunday in Semple Stadium where members of her team will be asking for your help in fundraising for these worthy causes.