Seo agus Siud  Edition 11 June 2021                   

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Máire Cannon writes about connections between
Carrickmacross, Monaghan and St Alberta Canada

Ar scath a chéile a mhairimid.
We depend on each other. We are all connected.

Desmond Keenan grew up in Tydavnet in Co. Monaghan, with his parents and four brothers. His brother Henry is married to Julie (nee Kearns) who worked for many years as Secretary in our Regional Office in Monaghan. As a young man with numerous interests, Desmond moved with his wife and family to Alberta, Canada in 1990. He became a property developer and a farmer.  One thing was missing in the rural area where he settled. A chapel, a meeting place for prayer and community. He records how his vision for this grew and happened.

As I get older the importance of my spirituality is becoming very evident for me. I value the strength and guidance that I gain from prayer. I’m not a man for frequenting Mass on a daily basis but overall, my faith is one of the most important aspects of my life. I think it was this inner pull and strong influence from my upbringing that drew me to invest in building a chapel.   Living a simple life with neighbourly acts of kindness, having an open mind and generous heart, being down to earth, sincere and understanding of each other, these were the human values and memories that carried me forward from my home in Ireland to where I now live.

The chapel was a challenge that occurred to me instantaneously. My family took part in the project and others helped along the way. While at home in Ireland and visiting my brother Henry and his wife Julie I mentioned that I was looking for a tabernacle. Julie consulted the Sisters of Louis with whom she worked as secretary in the past. And lo and behold a tabernacle was available! It had come from the Convent in Carrickmacross when that Convent was closing.  Early in 2020, I had it brought over here and placed in the sanctuary. It is beautifully ornate on an equally beautiful stand. I believe the stand was made by Mr. Paddy Daly who works in the Convent.

The chapel itself is named after St. Dympna, the same name as my own parish church back in Tydavnet. It is a quiet place of prayer and reflection in the middle of a canola field on the outskirts of Alberta. Slowly and quietly people are visiting there. It has a warm, happy and inviting atmosphere. A short distance from it on my farm, I have free range turkeys, chickens and one goat called Miley that follows me around and rules the roost. Oftentimes young families stop by to visit the chickens and call to the chapel for a visit.

I am very happy and grateful to the Sisters of St. Louis for this tabernacle. It is very special, coming from my home county from a group of ladies I respected and admired so greatly when I was growing up.  You Sisters are remembered and prayed for here in St. Dympna’s Chapel, Alberta. You have an open invitation to call anytime.

In appreciation of the Tabernacle Desmond generously donated to the St. Louis Sisters Leprosy Project in Nigeria. The prayers of all the Sisters in Carrickmacross, carried forward to the people who pray in Alberta, Canada continue in the service of the Sisters and their co-workers in Nigeria. May we all be one.