Last Thursday evening the parish of New Inn bade a fond and final farewell to the Sisters of Mercy after 133 years of sterling service to the parish. The final four Sisters who had lived at the convent in recent years left the village for their new homes the day before.
The huge turnout of people from near and far was testament to the esteem in which the sisters were held.
The evening started with a “Eucharistic Celebration of Thanksgiving,” a solemn mass in the local church which was concelebrated by his grace Bishop Dermot Clifford, PP Michael Kennedy, former priests and Rockwell priests all of whom had very close links working with the Sisters of Mercy.
Dean Philip Knowles also attended to pay his respects to the Sisters. Sr Peggy Collins, Provincial of the South Central Province of the Sisters of Mercy and Sr Patricia O’Meara, Liaison person of the Mercy Sisters and many more Mercy Sisters of the Diocese, also came along to be with their fellow sisters on the night which was both a celebration but also sad for the four departing nuns.
The beautiful ceremony was broadcast live on Tipp Mid-West Radio and the parish did themselves proud from readers, altar server’s right through to the wonderful choir.
Native son of the parish, Archdeacon Mattie McGrath, gave a humorous, thoughtful and nostalgic homily about the Mercy Sisters from their arrival in 1879 to Wednesday, November 28, when the four remaining sisters, Srs Assumpta, Fidelma, Nellie and Rena walked out the front door for the last time.
Fr Michael thanked everyone at the end of the mass and invited everyone to a celebration in the local hall where everyone could meet and chat over a hot cup of tea and lovely food, meet old acquaintances and reminisce.
His grace Archbishop Dermot Clifford said ‘grace’ and had his photograph taken with the four nuns before the formalities got underway. Sr Peggy Collins then took the microphone to make a fine speech before chairperson of the Parish Council, Margaret Butler, presented Sr Assumpta with a lovely picture.
Sr Assumpta then presented her successor as principal of the local school, Fiona Ryan with a bouquet.
Gifts were presented to the four sisters by, firstly, Eileen O’Connor, a senior past pupil, Nellie Gearon who worked for 16 years in the convent, Mandy Flanagan, who helped with the sick and infirm and was always a ‘ray of sunshine’ and finally ‘Mr Fix-It,’ Michael Taylor Ryan who was always available when things went wrong.
M.C. for the night, boys’ school principal, Michael Heffernan, acknowledged the work of all those who helped in any way to make the evening such a resounding success and he gave a special thanks to all the local clubs who rowed in with help and financial support.
This wonderful nostalgic evening was tinged with sadness as the Sisters and their work behind the scenes will be sorely missed in New Inn. Sometimes it is not until something is gone that it is really appreciated.
Fr Michael as usual had the last word and wound up the wonderful evening to leave everyone well fed, happy to have met old friends and just a little bit sad.