Saturday, 7 September was Golden Jubilee Day in Magheramore, Wicklow, for Sister Susan Keating (Cork), also celebrating her birthday!, Sister Kathleen Coyle (Donegal) and Sister Brigid Sullivan (Clare)
Joining in the celebration were many family members and friends from home and abroad, several Columban Fathers, the Magheramore community, Sisters from the Dublin houses and Sisters home on vacation from our various mission areas. Columban Father Bernard Mulkeirns celebrated the Jubilee Mass.The Homily given by Sister Patricia Quigley, Columban Sisters Congregational Vicar.
Left to Rt: Sisters Susan, Kathleen and Brigid
Homily Text: “Our readings this morning witness to God’s great love for each one of us. The first reading is a prayer that we will come to understand how long, how wide, how high, how deep God’s love really is and that we will experience this love in Christ –an experience that is beyond all knowledge – a gift of faith. And having been gifted with this love we can respond to Christ’s call in the Gospel to “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Today we are celebrating Kathleen, Susan and Brigid’s experience of God’s love for them and how they have responded to Christ’s commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you.”
The experience of love is not something taught but caught and it is in our families that we first experience love. That is why it is such a joy for us that you as family are here with us today. Because although many of you were not around when Susan, Kathleen, and Brigid were young – of course I know that some of you were young with them – you represent their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and relatives who shared love with them – you are the link – you bring the sense of home and deep relationships very close to them. That place where love was learned. And when the time came that they wanted to share that love with others, home and family was also the place where their vocation to be missionary sisters first developed. So a very sincere thanks to each one of you for coming.
It was a blessing for our Congregation that Kathleen, Susan and Brigid chose the Columban Sisters as their way of living out their call to missionary life – the Gospel puts it so beautifully – ‘to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last.’
And what a marvellous story we can tell of each of our Jubilarians – they went out and are continuing to go out and to bear fruit, each in her own unique way.
For Kathleen, already a teacher, she responded to the great need for teachers and the training of catechists in the Philippines. Later, developing her skills with further education, she became involved in the formation of many hundreds of young women in religious life. For young women who came from many different countries in Asia to study in Manila, Kathleen was always very generous with those who needed extra time because of their limited English.
With her wide experience Kathleen cooperated with others in founding Formation Institutes both in the Philippines and in Myanmar (Burma). And still today she continues to participate in formation work in the Philippines, Myanmar and also reaches out to India where she has taught in the seminaries there. Her gift as a Mariologist is particularly appreciated. We ourselves were fortunate in having workshops on Scripture from Kathleen in the different Areas of the Congregation.
Writing is another of Kathleen’s gifts and she has been generous in sharing articles and writing books that enrich the lives of many people.
For Susan, having trained as a nurse, her skills were welcomed in Korea where her sister Ellen was already ministering. Giving it her all, Susan served the sick and poor in the institutions run by the Columban Sisters. The spirit of thoughtfulness, dedication and great alertness at seeing what needed to be done brought many blessings to the people whom she served. Susan then went to the U.S. where she ministered to the residents of the Retirement Home in Silver Creek with the same care and attention. Realizing that people who were sick often have deep spiritual needs that medicine could not reach, Susan undertook to study Clinical Pastoral Education and became a chaplain in one of the large hospital in Boston and later in Silver Creek In this ministry she again shared her deep spirit of dedication; a spirit she now shares with the community here in Magheramore – her thoughtfulness is deeply appreciated.
For Brigid, Peru welcomed her where her nurse’s training was much in demand. Brigid worked in various clinics but she also made a marvellous contribution in caring for people in their homes. This she did in a very pastoral way, accompanying those who were ill and enabling families to know what helps were available as they cared for their loved ones. In these pastoral settings while the person who was ill was the initial contact, many other family difficulties were discovered by Brigid whose gentle spirit and patient care touched the hearts of many people and helped them in their sufferings. Together with Eileen Rabbitte, she was very much involved in the re-housing of many people in Ica after the terrible earthquake of 2007.
Brigid made a very valuable contribution to the Community here in Magheramore by running the Nursing Home for a number of years. Her gentleness and caring brought comfort to many of our Sisters who were ill.
During the time I was preparing this sharing, the thought of Mary our Mother kept coming to me as I saw different aspects of her life mirrored in our three Jubilarians.
May Mary accompany them as they continue to go out and bear fruit.
I know I have only given you a glimpse, a taste of how God has blessed Susan, Brigid and Kathleen and how they in turn have blessed so many other people. But I believe I have said enough for you to be able to rejoice with them as they give thanks to God for the faithfulness they have experienced during these past 50 years.