A joyous celebration………………………….
Sunday last marked a day worthy of celebration in Lucan. The Presentation sisters arrived in the Parish on that exact day and date in 1867. The 11.00 am Mass on Sunday last in St. Mary’s was a Mass of thanksgiving for the work of the sisters over a century and a half, and it was a joy to welcome back some of the sisters who had served in the parish over the last number of years.
By happy coincidence Sr. Rosario, who had been organist in St. Mary’s as well as a teacher and great devotee of music was celebrating her 96th birthday on the day, and was called upon to cut the jubilee cake in the parish centre after the Mass. She may be 96 but her mind is still as sharp as a razor. Her great joy was evident when the children of Scoil Mhuire sang the Nano Nagle hymn in praise of the foundress of the order and performed a tableau to accompany it. Sr. Frances Crowe who was in the first leaving cert class at St. Joseph’s in 1961, and went on to join the sisters herself, welcomed the congregation at the start of Mass.
The sisters arrived in Lucan in the years just after the famine and great poverty was still rampant throughout the country. Lucan was then a small rural village with a population of just a couple of hundred people, its catholic church had been erected some thirty years previously and the task of education was becoming a pressing priority. The many housing estates which appeared from the 1960’s on were just green fields in those days.
The sisters made the short journey to Lucan from their foundation in Clondalkin and set about the establishment of schools for the girls of the area. Life was hard in those times and life in the Convent was no exception. They had been gifted the building thanks to the generosity of the Colthurst brothers, two church of Ireland residents of Lucan House, who having witnessed the devotion of catholic sisters in the Crimea had both converted to Catholicism and pledged the money for the building to be erected.
The Moran family of St. Edmondsbury took the sisters under their wing and provided for their upkeep in those early days. This same family donated the beautiful stained glass window of the transfiguration which is above the site of the old high altar. In the years that followed the sisters built up the primary school and in the 1950’s opened a secondary tops school that would later become St. Josephs College. These schools have built up a great reputation as places of educational excellence but also as places where the holistic formation of the pupils is to the fore.
The sisters are no longer directly involved in the schools, but they remain the trustees, and the spirit that they imbued throughout the years of their stewardship continues in the ethos they have left behind.
The convent nowadays is the Mission House for the order, a place that welcomes sisters from many parts of the world who come to pray study and relax each year. Their presence remains a blessing for the parish, and we congratulate them on their 150 years of devoted service to this community – Nano Nagle would truly be proud!
Fr. Philip Curran
Frances catches up with old schoolfriend, Ann Geraghty (Moffett).
Sr. Mary got to chat with old schoolgirls, May Connolly and Veron Cooney (Downes sisters).
Sr. Nuala (far left), with Srs. Rosario and Ita, at the Mass.
Srs Patricia and Mary enjoying the celebrations.
Girls from Scoil Mhuire perform to Nano Nagle’s Hymn.