The 2022 OLA Remembrance Day Mass, was celebrated in person for the first time since the Pandemic, and live streamed to our YouTube channel on, 30 July.

Below you will find the welcome by our Provincial Leader, Kathleen Mc Garvey, the transcript of the Homily by Father Michael McCabe SMA.


Words of Welcome & Introduction at OLA Remembrance Day, 30th July 2022

Good afternoon and welcome to one and all.  A very sincere word of welcome to all the relatives and friends of our departed OLA Sisters.  Due to the ongoing threat of the spread of COVID, we have invited only the family members of the Sisters who have died since our last Remembrance Day celebration, which was held in June 2019. We thank you very sincerely for being here with us today.  We regret that we could not invite the family members of all our other deceased Sisters, but we hope many are joined with us online during this celebration which is being streamed live through our Youtube channel. We welcome and thank each of you for being so faithful to the memory of your departed loved one.

I also welcome the SMA Fathers who are celebrating this Mass with us as well as all OLA Sisters here present.  A special word of thanks to Fr Michael McCabe, our chief celebrant, to the choir, to the Ardfoyle community and staff, and to all who have helped to prepare today’s liturgy and celebration. 

Many OLA Sisters, especially those who died in the early years, have their final resting place in West Africa, in Egypt or in other parts of Europe, and some are buried in cemeteries in other parts of Ireland. Many others are buried here in Ardfoyle. Today we remember all our deceased Sisters with love and gratitude.

Here before the altar are a few symbols that remind us of the lives they lived: The Bible which contains the Word of God which inspired and sustained our Sisters in their daily lives and activities, throughout their missionary journey at home and abroad; a Map of Africa and a Carving of an African Woman symbolizing our commitment as OLAs to Africa and especially to the education and empowerment of the African woman; the Rosary beads reminding us of the special place given to the example and the intercession of Mary in our lives; the OLA necrology, or book of remembrance, which contains the names of all OLAs deceased throughout the world since 1887 and symbolizes our togetherness as an international OLA family sharing one charism and one mission.

While today we remember with thanksgiving all our deceased OLA Sisters, we will recall by name our ten Sisters who have made that final journey home to God since our last Remembrance Day in 2019:

As Sr Katherine calls out their names, we invite a family member, relative or friend to come forward and light the candle in the sanctuary in memory of their loved one.

Sr. Jacinta FINNERTY (Brideswell, Athlone, Co Roscommon) served in Nigeria, England, Ghana and Ireland and died in Ardfoyle Convent on 6th July 2019 aged 86 years.
Sr. John Vianney COSGROVE (Foxford, Co. Mayo) served in Nigeria, Ghana, England and Ireland and died in Ardfoyle Convent on 15th September 2019 aged 91 years. 
Sr. Eugenius COLBERT (Dungourney, Co. Cork) served in Ghana, Nigeria and Ireland and died in Ardfoyle Convent on 22nd March 2020 aged 97 years.
Sr. Mary Martin HEALY (Rathmore, Co. Kerry) served in Nigeria and Ireland and died on 13th November 2020, aged 85 years. 
Sr. Henrietta POWER (Ballyvelig, Co. Wexford) served in Nigeria and Ireland and died on 30th November 2020, aged 97 years. 
Sr. Bernadette FLYNN (Stradbally, Castlegregory, Co Kerry) served in Nigeria and Ireland and died on 4 January 2021, aged 86 years.
Sr. Mary Catherine O’SULLIVAN (Knocknagown, Rylane, Co Cork) served in Ireland and died on 15 January 2021, aged 83 years.
Sr. Marie TREACY (Ballinturley, Athleague, Co Roscommon) served in Nigeria and Ireland and died on 19 February 2021, aged 79 years.
Sr. Catherine DEVANE (Barrow, Ardfert, Co. Kerry) served in Nigeria and Ireland and died on 17th September 2021, aged 95 years.
Sr. De Pazzi FARRELL (Clogheen, Co. Tipperary) served in England and Ireland and died on 8th March 2022, aged 96 years.

May their souls and the souls of all our departed OLA Sisters rest in the peace and love of Christ.

Homily Delivered at the Remembrance Day Mass for the OLA  Sisters of the Irish Province

(Ardfoyle, 30th July 2022)

Today we remember with gratitude and affection our deceased OLA sisters, especially those who died in recent years, 2019-2022. Sister Kathleen has mentioned  their names and spoken about them at the beginning of this Eucharist. They were women not just ‘marked with the sign of faith’ but who spent their lives scattering the seed of God’s Word far from their homelands. They belong to the long and distinguished history of the Irish  missionary Church. There is scarcely a parish in this country that has not sent out missionaries to the four corners of the world. They took to heart the Lord’s words: ‘Whoever tries who try to make her/his life secure will lose it, but whoever loses her/his life will keep it’ (Lk 17:33). And they gave their lives so that others might know Christ.

The sisters we remember today were certainly women of faith. But they were also, for the most part, women of action, doers of God’s Word and not hearers only, who lived close to the people they served. They were courageous women who were not afraid to risk their lives so that the Gospel of hope might become incarnate among other peoples and cultures.  They believed that their task was, in the words of Paraic Pearce, ‘to scatter not hoard/ to do the deed of today, and not take thought of tomorrow’s teen.’  The vision that inspired them to leave their comfort zones and make themselves at home among a people not their own, has nothing to do with self glorification or the spirit of adventure. It was, in the words of the Irish soldier poet, Thomas Kettle, ‘for a dream, born in a herdsman’s shed,/And for the secret Scripture of the poor’the dream of a new world made possible by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This dream, and the faith that inspired it, was nurtured by the families, relations, and the local communities into which these sisters were born. And it was that  experience of faith,  of love, and of Jesus that ignited in them a desire to cross cultural boundaries and political borders to share their faith with the peoples of Africa. Many worked in difficult and dangerous situations.  Some died while still young with other spent several decades ón themission fields in Africa. A number have joined the ranks of the missionary martrys – I am thinking here of those who were killed while ón mission in Algeria. All were happy to serve the peoples of Africa as missionary religious sisters

We remember these women because they belonged to our faith communities – communities that sent them out and supported them in their courageous witness to Christ. We remember them because they offered their lives so that others might have life, ‘and have it to the full’ (Jn 10:10).  They were, in the words of Pope John Paul II, part of ‘an historical drama of charity, heroism and sacrifice which has made the African Church the vibrant fast growing plant it is today’. We remember them because we constantly need to be reminded that it is the witness of women (and men) like these sisters that keep the Church true to its essential vocation which is to be missionary. As Pope Francis has reminded us, ‘A Church that becomes a comfort zone for the like-minded ceases to be truly the Church of Jesus Christ’.  

I end with a  short reflective poem. You may repeat the refrain ‘We remember them’.

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
we remember them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
we remember them.

In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,
we remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
we remember them.

In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
we remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
we remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength,
we remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart,
we remember them.

When we have joys we yearn to share,
we remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them.