Saturday was a joyous occasion as we celebrated the 60th Jubilee of Sr Patricia McMenamin and the 70th Jubilee of Sr Loreta McCarthy’s. Their commitment to a life of total consecration and their dedication to God has been an inspiration to all of us. Their service to God’s Mission has touched countless lives and has been a testament to the power of faith and love.
May God continue to bless them and guide them in the years to come and may their hearts always be filled with the love and compassion of Christ.
Welcome Address, Jubilee Celebration, 11 March 2023, Ardfoyle
Good morning. You are all very welcome here today. We are here to rejoice and celebrate because on this day sixty years ago, Sr Patricia McMenamin, and seventy years ago, Sr Loreta McCarthy, made their first profession in the religious life as OLA sisters, vowing to live a life totally consecrated and dedicated to God, in the service of God’s Reign, especially in Africa. These jubilee years later, we are gathered with them to thank God that they have, through the ups and downs, sought to remain faithful to that promise, and have found fulfilment through it. A special Céad míle fáilte to each of you our Jubilarians, and to your family and friends. Fáilte to all our OLA Sisters especially you who have come from our other communities to celebrate with us today. Fáilte to the SMA priests here on the altar with us, Fr John Horgan and Fr Lee Cahill as well as our main celebrant, Patricia’s cousin, Fr Eddie Deeney. We are sorry some of Patricia’s family from Donegal could not be here, due to the weather, but they are surely joined with us in thought and prayer.
About this time last year, Pope Francis launched the path of preparation in the Church towards the Jubilee year 2025, saying a jubilee is “an event of great spiritual, ecclesial, and social significance in the life of the Church”. Today’s celebration is an equally significant moment in the life of both Sister Patricia and Sister Loreta, in our life as OLA Community and Congregation, and indeed in the lives of their families, friends and the many other people who have shared this great journey with them. Pope Francis said we celebrate a Jubilee “as a special gift of grace”, an occasion to look back at our journey in the faith. He said the Jubilee is a time to “fan the flame of hope that has been given us” and chose as the motto of the Jubilee, “Pilgrims of Hope”. For our two jubilarians, today is an occasion of Gratitude and of Hope. As Patricia and Loreta look back over the sixty and seventy years of their life as religious women, OLA missionaries, years during which they each witnessed to their faith in different places and in different ways, I am sure they will count many blessings received during this journey and will marvel at their many experiences of the mercy and love of God. May this celebration today renew and strengthen them, and indeed all of us, in our commitment to being Pilgrims of Hope.
Loreta, baptised Hannah, one of the McCarthy’s of Crimeen, was born in Bantry in 1932, and entered Ardfoyle at the age of 18. After her first Profession in 1953, she did a Science degree in UCC and was then, in 1956, sent to Africa. She spent twenty years in Nigeria, teaching and working as administrator in different OLA Schools and Teacher Training Colleges – between Agbor, Ibadan, Iwo and Ubiaja, and seven years in Ghana, again ministering in OLA schools, in Ho and Kenyasi. During these years, she also spent five years in Ireland teaching in Ardfoyle secondary school in the 1960’s, during which she also did her H.Dip. She left Africa finally in 1988, and then spent eight years in Leigh, England, in pastoral ministry, seven years helping in our Nursing Home in Castlemagaret, Mayo, then another seven years in London in pastoral ministry, before finally returning to Ireland, here to Ardfoyle, in 2013. Loreta has also served as Community Bursar for some years and has offered many other services, and she is now a member of our Infirmary Community. Thank you sincerely, Sr Loreta, for all you have been and done through your years of generous and committed service, and for being always a faithful sister and a caring community member. As the signs of age now begin to touch body and mind, and daily life presents its many struggles, we ask God that you may be given all the graces you need as you continue this journey.
Patricia was born in 1942 in Rathmullen (Donegal). Just six months after her first profession in 1963, at the young age of 21, she was sent to help in the OLA Training College in Cape Coast, Ghana, where she spent three years. She then returned to Ireland for studies, did a degree in UCC and made her final profession in 1969. She did a formation course in Bellinter for a year and then worked in vocation promotion in Ireland for a few years, did her H.Dip in Maynooth, and in September ‘74 was sent to Zambia, a new mission where a small group of OLAs were asked to go to help for a few years in a school and hospital. After six years in Zambia, and a brief spell in Ardfoyle, Patricia returned to Ghana, this time to Dzelukope (Sukode) where she was responsible for the novitiate training of the Mary Mother of the Church Sisters, a local congregation entrusted to the OLA Sisters for accompaniment. As this congregation has grown, Patricia has always held these Sisters close to her heart and has continued to stay in close relationship with them. In January ’87 she returned to Ireland to serve on the Irish Provincial Council, and in May ’88 went to Rome, as OLA Superior General. After ten years in this ministry of leadership in Rome she had some time of sabbatical, spent two years helping in Rostrevor community, and then was sent to Argentina, where she missioned for the next eight years in both Cordoba and Buenos Aires. Then back to Ireland, where she first spent ten years in Claremorris, established and accompanied the Lay Mission Movement, and then finally moved back here to Ardfoyle in 2018. Thank you, Patricia, for all you are, have done, and continue to do and be; you are indeed a gift from God. Again, as the signs of age begin to touch body and mind, and daily life can be a struggle, we ask God that you may be given all the graces you need as you continue this journey.
This is a very short brief of the well-lived lives of these two inspiring women. Thank you, and Congratulations Sisters Loreta and Patricia. Thank you to your family and friends who have supported you, thank you to the people who welcomed you, to the people who touched your lives and whose lives you have touched. We thank God for you, thank God for calling you, thank God for all God has done for you and through you, and we ask God to continue to bless you in the journey ahead.
We pray too that through your testimony, God will inspire young people in Ireland today to give their lives to God’s service. Pilgrims of Hope are indeed needed in our world today.
May we enjoy our day. I now hand you over to Fr Eddie for our Eucharistic celebration.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh.
Kathleen McGarvey OLA, Provincial Leader