Pictured from left: Maria Lee OLA, Mairéad Hickey OLA, Eileen Cummins OLA, Stephanie Green OLA
On Saturday we were blessed to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Sr Mairéad Hickey.
Mairéad Hickey OLA
Kathleen McGarvey OLA and Mairéad Hickey OLA
Maria Lee OLA and Mairéad Hickey OLA
Mairéad Hickey OLA and Eileen Cummins OLA
Mairéad Hickey OLA and Stephanie Green OLA
Emmanuelle Ohumaegbulem OLA and Mairead Hickey OLA
Welcome Address, Jubilee Celebration, 4th September 2021, Ardfoyle
Good morning. We are gathered here today, beginning with this Mass, to celebrate the life of Sr Mairead who today is marking her Diamond Jubilee of Religious Profession. We thank Sr Mairéad for her 60 years of faithful commitment to the consecrated life and to the mission entrusted to the OLA congregation. Thank you Mairéad for all you have been and done through your years of service in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Ireland, whether as a teacher, a mission and vocation promoter, a pastoral and social worker, a provincial councillor, a faithful and caring sister, a loving community member. It was Mairéad who responded to my own letters when I wrote to Ardfoyle expressing my wish to enter the OLA Sisters and be a missionary, and she was the first OLA I spoke to when I went from Maynooth to meet her in the OLA house in Dublin in 1989. Thank you Mairéad for the witness and welcome shown to me just as you have also shown to countless others throughout the years and as you continue to do today. We wish you a very enjoyable jubilee celebration. In a very particular way, we are all thanking God for you today in our prayer and entrusting you and your intentions into God’s hands. We also hold your brother and extended family in our prayers and ask God that those gone before us may shine down on you from above.
While today is Sr Mairéad’s special day, her Diamond Jubilee, many of us celebrate the anniversary of our religious profession around this time. Hence, today is a day for all of us to celebrate and to thank God for the gift of our vocation as religious and as missionaries. Pope Francis reminds us that “consecrated brothers and sisters,  are simple men and women who caught sight of the treasure worth more than any worldly good.” And so we left behind precious things, such as possessions, such as making a family for ourselves. Why did we do this? Because we fell in love with the Lord, we saw everything in God, and enraptured by God’s gaze, we left the rest behind. And over the years we seek to grow in our knowledge and love of God, and we do all we can to help others know and love God. The Pope tells us “Religious life is this vision. It means seeing what really matters in life. It means welcoming the Lord’s gift with open arms, as Simeon did… The consecrated person is one who every day looks at himself or herself and says: “Everything is gift, all is grace”. Dear sisters, we did not deserve religious life; it is a gift of love that we have received.” (Pope Francis, Message to Consecrated Life 2020). So today, celebrating Máiréad’s jubilee, let us all celebrate the love we have received, and let us rejoice in this gift.
The Pope tells us that like Simeon, we must be patient: he patiently awaited the fulfilment of the Lord’s promises. And today, as we consider our own lives of consecration, we can ask ourselves what patience really involves. It is to “endure, to bear the weight of personal and community problems, … to persevere in goodness when all seems lost, to keep advancing even when overcome by fatigue… These are some of the real challenges for our consecrated life today. We need patience and courage in order to keep advancing, exploring new paths, and responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. And to do so with humility and simplicity and constant faith. (Pope Francis, Message to Consecrated Life 2021).
Thank you Mairéad and thank you to all of us who remember and celebrate our religious profession today: thank you for what you do, thank you for your witness, for how you bear with your difficulties and sufferings due to age and the lack of vocations. Thank you for your community spirit, and your commitment always to mission, As Pope Francis encourages us: Let us go forth, take courage: the Lord is greater, the Lord loves us. Let us follow the Lord!” We are in the Lord’s hands.
May we all enjoy our day! And may you Mairéad enjoy it in a very special way.
I now hand you over to Fr Angelo, to begin our Eucharistic celebration.