Seo agus Siud Edition 6 June 2019
However, during his homily the bishop briefly mentioned the Book of Lamentations and I think it appropriate to end with a fuller quote from the passage.
It is all the Wisdom we need for our time.
“This is what I tell my soul and so recover hope.
The favours of the Lord are not all past.
His kindnesses are not exhausted. Every morning they are renewed.
Great is His faithfulness.
My portion is the Lord says my soul
And so I will hope in Him.
The Lord is good to those who trust Him,
To the soul who searches for Him
It is good to wait in silence for the Lord.” Indeed!
Marion had prepared a sensitive Prayer which we all shared in a big circle around the table. As it came to an end Mary [Connellan] had little cards with the Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit which she handed around for our random choosing. There was even one for Paschalina in Marymount. We were invited to share what we had received. There are no coincidences. Again and again we were touched by the suitability of the gift and the situation of each person’s life.... for instance “Wisdom” and “Gentleness” for someone in Leadership, “Courage” and “Peace” for a Sister moving out. When yours truly was invited to pray for the gift of “Self control” [the only such fruit mentioned] it proved a source of amusement for some reason! In best Ramsgrange tradition this prayerful gathering was informal yet attuned, light hearted yet profound and we hope it had the effect of “putting fresh heart” into the three Sisters as they step out of their boat into the future.
When photos began to be taken the mood shifted to hilarity. Factions emerged... The Domestic Science Teachers, The Secondary Teachers, The Primary Teachers, The Staff, The Community ... and dare you be seen to intrude your head in the wrong frame!
After weeks of rain Sunday the 9th of June, Pentecost Sunday, dawned bright and sunny in Ramsgrange. It helped enormously both with logistics and our mood. I do think if it had been raining it might have been unbearable! In good liturgical fashion the Sisters who had long been associated with Rams began to gather by early afternoon on Saturday.
Stephen, Annuncia and Mary [Clancy] warmly welcomed each Sister, many of whom had assisted the Community over the past few vulnerable months.
There was actually an air of light hearted banter all evening as each tried to keep spirits up, acutely aware of how Mary, Annuncia and Stephen may have been feeling. Margaret O’Regan and Trisha Stafford [staff], had prepared a delicious pick up meal and before long all 15 of us, staff and Sisters, were gathered around. There was an observation to the effect that the word “stressed” spelt “desserts” backwards and this proved a further laughing matter when it was discovered that the trifle had a definite “kick” to it!
Bishop Denis Brennan celebrated the farewell Mass which had been arranged by the Parish. He was assisted by Frs. Brian and Don, present and past Parish Priests. It was a most warm and heartfelt tribute to the Sisters. The Bishop [relying heavily on the beautiful booklet produced by Barbara McArdle] spoke of how Canon Sheridan’s invitation to Genevieve Beale had an unprecedented effect on a small rural Parish, how the St. Louis influence had spread out to the Diocese, the county and country, effected by the excellence and appropriateness of the Education provided by the Sisters, how even now, in diminishment, each of the former convent buildings was being utilised for the benefit of the people.
On Sunday morning the Parish Church was decorated with masses of white Cala lilies in the Sanctuary and roses and other arrangements in the hallway. Stephen and Annuncia, accompanied by members of their families and Mary were lovingly shepherded over to the Church by their faithful staff, Margaret & Trish and carers Rita Murphy & Rosie Dunne. The Sisters have been truly blessed in the devoted love & service of these women over these last years. There really are no words to adequately express our gratitude to them for the quality of life they afforded their charges.
When Uainin rose to speak at the end of the Eucharist one could literally hear a pin drop. Without consulting a note she spoke primarily to the Parishioners of Ramsgrange thanking them for their support and care especially over these final years.
The combined choirs of Ramsgrange and Duncannon graced the Liturgy throughout. Their opening hymn “There’s a time to remember” set the tone and they went to great lengths to learn “Quid Retribuam”, which was such a gift to us and brought a tear to not a few eyes! Music finds the deeper reaches of the heart!
Later a plaque was unveiled on the wall of the first St. Louis Primary school in Ramsgrange. The building now houses the St Louis Day Care Centre, where refreshments were offered to all who attended the Celebration
So the house needs to close. The Saint Louis work is complete. Four Sisters arrived in May of 1871. Four Sisters formed the final Community in 2019. Who knows where in the world today the name “Ramsgrange” might evoke, a warm memory, and a smile?
Those of us who were fortunate enough to have been missioned there have much for which to be grateful. It was always a warm, wholesome place. After the rigours of the Novitiate we learned by osmosis how to live Religious Life. We learned to pray, work, care and have fun without a word being spoken about it. It may be a cliché but Ramsgrange really did give us roots and wings, roots that lasted almost 50 years in my case. We were always welcome back. On a recent visit to the grave yard I counted 60 Sisters buried there, 14 of whom I had known personally and many more I almost felt I knew because of all the stories that were passed on.
Long years ago I remember standing in the ruins of nearby Dunbrody Abbey, thinking that Glendalough was as ancient to the monks of Dunbrody as Dunbrody was to us then. Little did I think then, in the early 70’s, that I would also see the closure of Ramsgrange. Glendalough petered out in its time. The monks of Dunbrody were basically evicted in the 16th century with the dissolution of the Monasteries. Neither group have left any account of how they dealt with their predicament. No wisdom which would help us in our turn.
Page 1 Farewell to Ramsgrange by Margaret Mary Joyce
As the Sisters processed out the Church burst into applause, a fact which was lost on many of us as we were already outside to witness the planting of a special Rowan tree to commemorate the event. Stephen assisted the Bishop to do the job properly, while a harpist and a flautist played “Boolovogue”. Gertrude Keegan would have loved it
The Celebration Afterwards
Photographs courtesy of Mary Connellan and Margaret Mary Joyce
From the New Ross Standard