Interfaith Dialogue


The Mite Box keepers haven’t a clue of the good they are doing thousands of miles away. They will never meet these people. They don’t speak the same language, but that penny makes life so much better. You are the stars of our world!” ~ Sr Eithna Synott.

The OLA Mite Boxes, featuring the image of Sr Anthony, have adorned shop counters for almost sixty years. They have become synonymous with supporting the missions and hold a very sacred place in the hearts and minds of people across Ireland.

The first of the OLA’s blue mite boxes were placed on shop counters across the island of Ireland in the late 1950’s. Almost 60 years later the boxes continue to hold pride of place on hundreds of shop counters.  The term mite comes from an event witnessed by Jesus and became known as the widow’s offering:

“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on”  Mark 12:43-44

Over the past six decades, OLA Sisters have taken their turn criss-crossing the country to collect the coins and crumpled notes from mite boxes.

The original aim of the mite box was to raise funds for the mission work of the OLA Sisters and this remains the primary focus for the funds collected, however, over the years a second, just as crucial purpose became evident. The pastoral aspect inherent in the collections is an important, initially unintended aspect of this ministry. As explained by Sr Martha Ahern “We build up a relationship with the people looking after the mite boxes in each area. We visit each area at a set time each year and get to know them over time. They sometimes may share about their life and they appreciate the visit and our prayers.”

In advance of the visit to empty the mite box, some shop owners collect clothes and toys which are then distributed in Africa.

Some of the original wooden mite boxes are still in circulation. In the rural areas of Ireland, some prefer these older boxes to the newer ones. Both units feature an image of St. Anthony and they have become synonymous with supporting the missions.

They represent a tangible link between a local community in Ireland and another community in an OLA mission area where the funds go to help spread the Gospel message throughout Africa.” ~ Sr Martha Hearne

The three sisters currently managing the Mite boxes are Sr Eithna Synnott in Northern Ireland, Sr Martha Ahern, based in Cork, and Sr Julie Doran in Dublin.

From our Blog…

Mite Box Keepers at Christmas

Four shop keepers on their role as shepherds of the OLA mite boxes   The OLA mite boxes featuring the image of St. Anthony have adorned shop counters for almost sixty years. They have become synonymous with supporting the missions and hold a very sacred place in...

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Gratitude from Bepoase Clinic in Ghana

Last May, Sr. Eithna Synnott received an email from Sr. Mary Rita O’Mahony in Ghana. The OLA Province in Ghana had recently opened a new convent in the rural village of Bepoase and the OLAs had been invited to take over the health centre there. The centre had...

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Helping Hand for Health Clinic

Sr. Eithna Synnott, OLA reports on how a call for help from a health clinic in rural Ghana was met with wonderful generosity in Ireland in the space of three weeks. On the 23rd of May last, I received an email from Sr. Mary Rita O’Mahony, OLA. Sr. Mary Rita,...

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