This past Saturday, 20 June, marked a significant milestone for our community as we gathered for the first public Remembrance Day and Blessing of the Graves at Ardfoyle since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our last Remembrance Day, held in 2022, was open to a very small group and this year’s event was a heartfelt tribute to our departed OLA Sisters, drawing over 150 friends and family members who came together to honour and celebrate the lives of these remarkable women.

The afternoon began with a warm welcome from our District Leader, Mary Crowley, who expressed sincere gratitude to everyone present. She acknowledged the importance of the occasion and the deep significance of remembering our beloved Sisters who dedicated their lives to service and faith. Mary extended special thanks to Fr. Paddy O’Rourke SMA, our chief celebrant, along with the choir, the Ardfoyle community, and all those who helped prepare the day’s liturgy and celebration. The sense of community and shared purpose was palpable as we gathered to remember with love and gratitude.

Before the altar were symbols that vividly reminded us of the lives our Sisters led. The Bible represented the Word of God that guided and inspired them daily. A Carving of an African Woman symbolised our commitment to the African woman and to her education and health care. Rosary beads highlighted the special place of intercession in our lives. The OLA necrology, a book of remembrance containing the names of all OLAs deceased since 1887, symbolised our international OLA family sharing one mission.

Sister Katherine Donovan then recalled by name the four Sisters who made their final journey home to God since our last Remembrance Day in 2022. Their lives and contributions were highlighted, beginning with Sr. Helena O’Connell from Portmagee, Co. Kerry. She lived her missionary life in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, England, and Ireland, and passed away in Ardfoyle on 19th November 2022, at the age of 94. Sr. Grace Rowan from the Curragh, Co. Kildare, served in Nigeria, England, and Ireland, and departed this life on 21st September 2023, in Ardfoyle, aged 87. Sr. Rosarii O’Sullivan from Athea, Co. Limerick, spent her missionary years in Nigeria and Ireland, passing away on 16th January 2024, at the remarkable age of 104. Finally, Sr. Majella McCarron from Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, dedicated her life to missions in Nigeria and Ireland, and died on 30th March 2024, at Marymount Hospital, aged 84. The lighting of candles in their memory was a moment that brought tears to many eyes and warmth to many hearts.

As the day progressed, we reflected on the impact of our Sisters’ work and the strength of their faith. The event was not only a remembrance but also a celebration of lives well-lived in the service of others. We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to come together once more, to remember and give thanks for all our deceased OLA Sisters. Their spirits continue to inspire us, and their memories are forever etched in our hearts.

This Remembrance Day was a powerful reminder of the unity of our community. As we move forward, we carry with us the lessons and love of those who have gone before us, striving to honour their legacy in our daily lives. May their souls, and the souls of all our departed OLA Sisters, rest in the peace and love of Christ.